a politically incorrect childhood
It’s bad enough that the subject matter is a bit risqué but throw in that my memory is terrible and you have all the ingredients for a very regrettable remembrance. Would that stop any reasonable person from proceeding? Yes.
Will it stop me? No.
So I’ll just apologize in advance.
When I was a kid we played a lot of outdoor games at recess. Looking back now, there were a few that might be considered politically incorrect.
The first was Cowboys & Indians.
I remember that nobody wanted to be an Indians because you had to mimic the shooting of a bow while the Cowboys could blaze away with their pistols without hesitation. Even as kids we could see why the Cowboys won in real life. Plus, the Cowboys got to swagger around bowlegged and say “Howdy partna.” Of course, the Indians did get to shriek unintelligently and wave imaginary tomahawks around so it wasn’t all bad.
But being kids it was also a frequent point of contention that even when you got hit with an arrow you could just say it was stuck in your leg and keep firing. You know how shifty those pale faces can be.
If that game makes you a little queasy, you might want to sit down for this one.
Smear the Queer.
I swear on all that is holy that we not only played this game, but thought nothing of it. It was a simple game. One person was designated as the Queer and then everyone else ran after them, tackled them and then piled on.
I won’t mention what we called the ‘pile’ for fear of offending even myself. Treasured childhood memories are so difficult to hold onto these days.
To the best of my recollection, I don’t think Queer had blatant homosexual connotations. I think it just meant the odd one out or kid that was different. Actually, thinking back on it, it usually meant the biggest nerd on the playground, as I recall being the Queer far more frequently than the Smearer. What the teachers were doing as terrified youth were chased down and smeared I don’t recall.
I was the grizzled old Queer giving advice to the younger kids about staying away from pavement, the grass provided an easier landing spot, and how to cover your vital areas once you’d been brought down like a gazelle on the Serengeti.
I do wonder how things were on the playground after Brokeback Mountain came out. I can see a lot of confused kids deciding it might just be safer to be an Indian. “Did he say partna or partner?” I’m guessing the phrase “Miss me, miss me, now you gotta kiss me” wasn’t offered up as frequently. Cowboys throwing the game just to avoid what might lay ahead in a post-game celebration. And did this new wrinkle extend to the Indians as well? ‘If the teepee is a rockin’, don’t come a knockin’.
And Smear the Queer… would kids be less likely to chase after a Queer that might end up more rugged than first imagined? And that pile might get a bit awkward as well.
Throw in all of the recent civil unrest and the playground must be a very different place than when I went to grade school. I’m guessing in Cops & Robbers it’s hard to get any Cops.
Red Light, Green Light now might be nothing more than one kid yelling “Green light” and all the other kids running until they hear him/her/they yell “Red light” at which point they all yell “Fuck tha police” and continue running.
Do they even play Duck, Duck, Goose for fear of assuming a person’s gander? During Blind Man’s Bluff do the other kids let the blindfolded one catch them for fear of being called a sightist?
Yeah, I can see the playground being a lot more complicated for the kids these days.
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