Friday, July 10, 2009
In the different areas of the country I have lived in as a child and adult, children have always played special games of tag under various names. The children always think that everyone knows their game of tag by the name they have given it. For us, for a time while living in Omaha, Nebraska, that game of tag was called Graveyard.
Graveyard was always played at night during the summer. It required running around our house, starting and ending in the light at the front of the house. The person who was “it” would be in the unlit, dark backyard, lurking, waiting to tag the kids running around the house. This would be the graveyard part of our game. Once tagged you would have to sit on the back step, under the swing set, or whatever area we had designated as the graveyard.
This was a noisy game. Knowing from walking my dogs how deadly quiet my current neighborhood is at night, I wonder why the neighbors put up with Graveyard. Of course, many of them would have had kids participating, but this was a late night game that could not start before 9:30 and normally closer to 10. It “had” to be played during the summer and in the dark. We would have been allowed to play it for at least half an hour. Running around in the dark almost guarantees screaming will be involved. I have a feeling that if my husband, the Snack King, and I decided to whoop it up now and make as much noise as we did back then, we’d get the police called on us for disturbing the peace.
Graveyard was also a game that was ripe for participants to incur injuries. Honestly, a game that requires children to run around a house in the dark almost screams “Be prepared for pain. You will trip and fall, or crash into someone else.” Even now my sister, Hipee (high powered executive) recalls it as being a fun game, as do I. But then I also remember crashing into people and tripping.
Now my brother, ED (El Dictator), was often “it”. I think ED enjoyed running up tagging people and scaring them in the dark. Much like Killer Tricycles, being it during Graveyard put ED in a position of power and control, only this time it was over many neighborhood kids. I seem to recall ED enjoyed doing some pretty vigorous tagging too – more of a smack-down time. Perhaps this is what made Graveyard a fun, daring game because we were really afraid of ED catching and painfully tagging us.
I don’t know if our younger siblings, sister Whiy (whiny) and later PB (pretty boy) ever really experienced a vigorous, serious game of tag played with many people. Of course, by the time they would have been ready to learn Graveyard, we were older. Additionally, in the neighborhood we were living in at that time there definitely would have been complaints over the late night noise.
I guess we could still try to introduce Graveyard to them at some family reunion, but I don’t know how that would work out. For the game to be fun we’d need a lot of participants. Everyone would have to play. I know the much younger PB, along with all our children, could run circles around the rest of us. And although Hipee and I might give it a go and do our best, Whiy would likely try to beg out of the game. Of course, ED’s getting old now and we could probably all relatively easily escape his clutches. Unless someone yells, “Coffee!” or “Peanut butter balls!” I don’t think he even runs anymore. It sort of makes playing Graveyard pointless, once the thrill of victory and agony of defeat have been eliminated…. Unless, of course, we were holding the coffee or peanut butter balls and ED had to chase us to get them. Hmmmm… thinking, thinking….