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Games in Cars

Somehow the topic of Boston’s rap battle situation came up while we were driving, and I informed the kids that if someone pulled up alongside our car and challenged me to a rap battle, I’d have to politely decline because (1) I’m not really good at speaking off the top of my head, (2) I’m not really good at rapping in general, and (3) I really like to pay attention even at red lights, and I wouldn’t want to be distracted by their rhymes.

I told the twins that when I was younger, the thing to do was to pull up alongside a car in traffic and motion for them to roll down their window.  Of course, that meant taking off your seat belt and leaning across the seat because most cars had windows that had to be manually rolled.  It was truly a pain in the ass unless someone was in the passenger seat.

Anyway, once they had the window down, assuming you needed directions or that you were going to warn them that their tail light was out, you would say, “Do you have any Grey Poupon?”  And then drive away.

We were such cards.


I asked the twins if kids still pump their arm up and down whenever they pass a truck while they’re on the school bus.  It used to be a huge game to get truck drivers to pull their horn for you, and I remember mostly doing it on the bus but also in the car on long trips.

I asked Josh, and he did this as well as a kid, and we didn’t grow up in the same area.  Anyone else?

Unfortunately, getting truck drivers to honk their horn no longer seems to be a thing.


Of course there was also punching the person next you — hard, in the arm — whenever you saw a Volkswagon Beetle.  Yes?  No?

Punch buggy!


1 illustr8d { 03.27.16 at 8:02 am }

We called them Slug Bugs and we did that. But only if they had a front light out. Also one light out was a Diddle and two lights out was a Bididdle. No idea where that came from. But I was not a fan of the punching thing.

We did the truck thing, and we did it in our car, usually when I was with my cousins who liked to do that. They almost always honked back with those large horns, so different from car horns.

Never asked for Grey Poupon.

2 ANDMom { 03.27.16 at 8:53 am }

We did the truck thing, though I grew up on a street that led to a factory, so mostly we sat on our porches and did it.

We used to play “Herbies” with the VW Beetles (because of the movie). 1 point for parked, 2 for driving. Double points for silver, and x5 for gold!

3 Persnickety { 03.27.16 at 9:12 am }

There was definitely slugabug/punch buggy in the car, but I made sure my siblings didn’t do that to me.
What I remember most is a simple counting game -each person takes turns saying members, and the person who says 20 loses. As an adult I can see how easy it is, but as a child I was obsessed

4 Charlotte { 03.27.16 at 10:02 am }

Yes to all 3 of these. We also played the Padiddle game: one headlight out is a Padiddle you had to be the first one to spot it and say it.
Also, kissing your hand and touching the roof of the car if you were driving through a yellow light, for good luck. Anyone else do that?
Oh, and like punch buggy but for Dodge…you would point and yell out Dodge, the other person would (hopefully say) Dodge what? And you would say Dodge This and punch them.

5 A { 03.27.16 at 10:24 am }

We never did the truck horn thing, and my dad even worked for a trucking company when I was little. And for some reason, our Bug thing was “Peewee punch a (insert car color) one!” I can’t remember if anyone got punched or just the person wearing that color. We also had to lift our feet off the floor of the car when crossing railroad tracks or rivers (on bridges). I don’t even know why.

Back to the Bugs…my aunt had one in the 1960s, and since she was an artist and it was the 60s, she painted flowers all over it. Sometime in the 1980s, she found a book someone had published that was photos of VW Beetles and there was her car!

6 A { 03.27.16 at 10:31 am }

Also, we always played the alphabet game when we were on a longer trip (where you found all the letters of the alphabet on road signs or billboards or business signs. Hardest letter was usually J, since you could count on exit, equipment, or pizza fairly regularly). We once had a car bingo game too. And when I was a teenager, my mother introduced a game where you would count horses and when you passed a cemetery you would yell “Bury all your horses!” Still not sure of the point of that one. Maybe you counted silently, and whoever buried the most won?

7 Susan { 03.27.16 at 1:31 pm }

Punchbuggy and padiddles for sure–I remember just trying to get a wave from truck drivers. I remember playing the alphabet game and GHOST on long trips.

8 Lori Lavender Luz { 03.27.16 at 7:00 pm }

Yes to all (though the Grey Poupon commercial came out at after the end of my childhood).

Did you ever stop at a light with a car full of teens and everyone gets out their door and enters another, changing seats, all before the light changes? The game has an unPC name.

9 Cristy { 03.27.16 at 7:57 pm }

This rap battle is a thing?!?!? Good to know as I would absolutely suck at it.

Yes to the truck drivers. Some will still do it, but I find younger kids have the edge for this game. That or girls with super short skirts.

And I remember slug bug all too well. That and the game where you punched/got punched for spotting cars with one head-light (Perdido?)

10 Lavonne @ *Our Wish* { 03.28.16 at 8:26 am }

I remember my brother doing the Grey Poupon to someone once. We laughed so hard. We did punch buggy, but also “Cruiser Bruiser” (with PT Cruisers), and “Woody” (cars with wood paneling). Our favorite game though was “Perdiddle”. When you see a car with one headlight you yell Perdiddle and touch the inside roof of the car. Person with the most at the end of the car trip wins. Bragging rights of course, nothing of real significance. LOL!

11 Ana { 03.28.16 at 9:55 am }

Never heard of the padiddle thing, but we did “punch buggy 1-2-3” and the arm pump/truck horn thing, and alphabet game, AND the grey poupon.

12 Turia { 03.28.16 at 12:34 pm }

Oh yes, the Grey Poupon and the truck horn requests were frequent in our cars. We also played the alphabet game with license plates incessantly. Never did punch buggy though.

13 loribeth { 03.28.16 at 6:39 pm }

We never did any of these — not sure if it’s a difference of generation or place, or both, or something else entirely. (Does anyone remember the actual Grey Poupon TV commercials??) We did used to play “I spy” on long road trips, & my sister & I would look at license plates to see where all the cars were coming from. The year we visited Banff, we saw plates from just about all the Canadian provinces and a huge number of the States.

14 Jessie Francis { 03.28.16 at 11:09 pm }

Definitely punch buggies, although when the baby was born we took the “punch” out of it so we weren’t accidentally getting him. We count coup with them, to see who has the most at the end of the day.

15 mijk { 03.30.16 at 8:26 am }

My kids and their clasmates hit when the see a yellow car. There must Be 20something people who wint he having kids because they bought a yellow car and now think all kids are aggressive!

16 JustHeather { 04.01.16 at 3:18 pm }

We had “slug bug”, but didn’t slug in my parents’ cars as we didn’t want to be slugged back. 😀 “Popeye” was said if there was one light out. And you either touched the roof of the car or held your breath (I later learned) when going over railroad tracks. I’m not sure why though.
I don’t specifically remember trying to get truckers to honk, but we might have?
On road trips we’d find the alphabet (the letters had to be outside the car).
As for asking about Grey Poupon, a good friend carried a to-go size packet around in his pocket just for such an occasion. Imagine the surprise of my friend AND the person who asked him!! I love that story.

17 JustHeather { 04.01.16 at 3:27 pm }

Oh and I forgot that I loved (and still do) to look at license plates and see where they are from. Hawaii and Alaska anyone? Here in Finland hubby and I have been counting the plates (1, 2, 3, … we’ve been stuck on 709 for ages now).

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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