Sunday, February 18, 2018

Reminiscing: Punch Bugs and Padiddles

The other day while driving to Niagara Falls to see the mermaids, Wendy out of the blue said, “Padiddle.” I cracked up laughing. That’s not a term we hear too much anymore. It was like an instant flashback to my teenage years. Immediately, the whole “Punch Bug” game came roaring back, too. In that case, I’ve heard at least one of my daughters try to play the “Punch Bug” game, although they don’t actually punch each other.

For those of you who don’t know, or don’t remember, “Padiddle” is what a car with one headlight is called. The game of “Padiddle” originated in the 1950s and has some very nonspecific rules behind it. According to Wikipedia, it was part of the cruising culture after World War II. In that early game, it was a teenage lovers game. “A boy making the discovery would kiss his date, a girl would punch her date on the arm.”

Back in my day, seeing a padiddle meant that the first person seeing the oncoming, one-light car had to hit the ceiling of the car you were in. Of course, there were the inevitable fights when two people saw it at the same time. One of the edges you could gain in this endeavor was to sit shotgun. The front seat always has the best view. The people in the backseat were at a disadvantage.

Another game we played, which seems to have died out for the most part, was the Punch Bug Game. With the demise of the Volkswagen Beetle in 2003, the game is bound to die an inglorious death. Throughout the 1960’s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, the Punch Bug game was very popular. In this game, the first person who spots a VW Beetle shouts out “Punch Buggy!,” the color of the car, and punches the other person in the arm. It sure seems like a lot of these games deal with beating the heck out of your friends, doesn’t it?

The other day when Patience yelled out “Punch Bug!” I expected to hear an “Ouch!” from her friend. She didn’t give her friend a shot in the arm. I guess that’s an improvement, but it sure seemed strange to me. When I asked about it, neither of them knew that punching the other person was part of the game. We’ve really let our children down.

Every once in awhile, I put my hand on Wendy’s forehead when we’re coming up to a stop sign. Yes, those “Stop Ahead” signs definitely mean you need to make sure that you stop your friend’s head as soon as you see those signs. When we were dumb teenagers, it meant you’d slap your co-pilot in the head as you reached those signs. If there’s ever been any wonder why teenage drivers get into so many accidents, I think I just gave you three examples.

Everyone knows what a Chinese Fire Drill is, right? When you pull up to a red light, everyone in the car gets out, runs around and jumps back in before the light turns green. Occasionally, someone would get left behind, but only for a few minutes and after some laughs. If you took too long, the people in cars behind you would get angry and honk to let you know they were not happy with our antics.

Yes, we played a lot of games in the car, but we never played Pokemon Go! or tried to text while driving. Punching friends in their arms or running in circles at stop lights was good enough for us. I have two kids who will be driving in just a couple of years. I want them to be safe while driving. They should definitely stay off their phones while in the car, whether driver or passenger. But I’m not so sure they should be hitting each other while driving, either. Maybe they should just park the car.

Oh, shit….never mind…

Craig Bacon hasn’t run a fire drill in the car in 25 years. Maybe next time we’re stopped at Main and Pine, he’ll make the kids run one.