Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Get Your Potatoes In!

I spend a lot of time in the playground after school. It’s a great place to meet people with similar interests and hobbies as me such as: sleep deprivation, getting feces out of clothes without leaving a stain and how to keep children from opening the bathroom door while in use. It’s also a great place to learn the newest and coolest playground games.

I have already covered the thinly veiled sexual assault known as “Kiss Tag”. The current game of choice in the school yard is “Grounders”, which is a type of Marco Polo tag on dry land.

Oh shit, that's not a game of tag. Those people are trying to abduct her!

I’ve spent the last few weeks observing and making notes on this game without the children spotting me. Many parents and police officers did, which is why I’m starting a kickstarter campaign to both further my research and raise bail.

"I understand I'm under arrest, but why did you remove my pants?"

Grounders has a ruling class who decides the initial fate of all players. The “King Counter” is a Benevolent Dictator that decides who is “it”. I say benevolent dictator because though King Counter is in charge there is a wing of government below him that has some influence. That is the Song Chooser, who chooses which rhyme will be used to decide who is “it”.

Despite using only one hand, Napoleon was a hell of a tag player.

In Senior Kindergarten there is four main rhymes in rotation right now.

Each Peach Pear Plum

Come on, they already have six inch claws, jaws that can bite through pine trees and now some idiot gave them guns?

“Each peach pear plum
You are not it, or your very best chum.”

The player this lands on chooses another player who is also exonerated with him. This instantly creates jealousy and hurt feelings as some other child with a complex will whisper “I thought I was his best chum,” through salty tears as he cries himself to sleep that night.

This rhyme also has the added bonus of being an unpopular four course meal menu.

Eenie, Meenie, Meinie, Moe

“Eenie, meenie, meinie, moe
Catch a tiger by the toe
If he hollers let him go
Eenie, Meenie, Meinie, Moe”

The question is why catch a tiger by the toe? You should go for the throat. If he hollers let him go? Of course he’ll holler, you are subduing a wild animal here. This is a very inefficient way to get medicine for erectile dysfunction.

Nothing goes to waste.

I also remember when I was a small town rural child in the 70’s the word tiger was replaced with the n-word. That’s right... “necrophiliac”.

Dip Dip Chocolate Chip

“Dip, dip chocolate chip
you are not it.”

I’ve also heard a variation from older kids:

"It dit dog shit,
you are not it"

Listening to these rhymes made me think back of the incredibly violent rhymes we had as children.

“My mother and your mother were out in the yard, hanging up the clothes.
My mother hit your mother right in the nose.
What color was the blood?"
(Person counter ends on picks a color, counter spells it)
And you are not it."

If you really wanted to fuck up the King Counter you would pick a colour like “turquoise”.

My money is on the one on the right. The one on the left has a glass jaw.

Once you have the person to be it. They count to ten, or whatever a five year old can count to so the other players can run off onto the playground equipment. Every kid does the same thing, they count as fast as they can in hopes that the other players do not get very far. I wish anytime there was a counting situation in life this would happen. That would liven up shuttle launches and New Years Eve.

I remember being in Ottawa at Capitol Hill for New Years Eve in 1999. The Hill was crowded with people and a mist of pot smoke encircled your ankles. The countdown was projected on the Peace Tower, but whoever was in charge of the slideshow either hadn’t bothered to double check the slides, or had spent some time lying face down in that mist. The numbers started at 10, went to 8, then quickly jumped to random numbers some of which were upside-down. This is similar to how a five year old counts while being it in tag.

Then the player who is “it” closes their eyes and tries to tag the other players. This is a loose rule as most kids are squinting so hard they develop bright white laugh lines within a few minutes of playing.

The other players are supposed to always be off the ground, and if the player who is “it” calls “grounders” while someone is on the ground rather than on the playground equipment that kid becomes it. Most of the time the children trying to evade being tagged lie and yell back “No One!” This then leads to an interesting Catch-22. The kid who is "it" knows, because he was cheating, that there was indeed someone on the ground. However, in arguing his case he would then incriminate himself proving he too is a cheater by having his eyes open. Often this is cleared up by either saying the unpopular kid was on the ground, who is so desperate for attention will gladly be it, or everyone sulking and shouting, “I’m not playing!”

Again, I wish that in adult life we could do this. For example during a presentation in a Board Room an executive points out a fatal flaw in a project, the presenter could just yell, “I’m not playing!” and leave the room. Then everyone would just move onto the next item on the agenda.

"But if it's on a Power Point, it has to work!"

The other rule in grounders appears to be that anything at anytime can become “T.O.” or time-out. My daughter is particularly is fond of this. When the kid who is “it” even comes close to her she shouts. “This pole is T.O!” or if she is helping out a friend will pick a colour, “Red is T.O.” Oddly, most of the time all the kids are fine with this. She tried to use me as T.O. a few times which lead to me shouting there was no way I was time out and to get off of me. As she was tagged she saw me as a traitor that day and looked at me the same way Han Solo looked at Lando Calrissian in Cloud City. I am not a fan of Star Wars so I had to watch an online clip of this scene. I really don't see why people are so gaga over this flick. It looks pretty cheap and awful to me:

The other quick way to get out of being tagged is to yell, "I’m hungry," and leave the playing field to get a snack, then eat at a painfully slow pace so the others won’t wait for you to return to the game or hope your father gets tired of standing around and wants to go home. Spoiler alert: He does.

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