Saturday, March 11, 2006

Punch Buggy

In October of last year my family, along with my sister Eileen and her 18-year-old son Kevin, drove down to Maryland to attend my nephew Justin’s wedding. It was supposed to be a five-hour drive but it took eight, due to traffic, the torrential rains, and a “shortcut” given to us courtesy of AAA. This drive felt even longer due to the fact that Kevin, who was sitting in the front seat next to me, would sporadically tap on the sun visor that was above his head. I tried to ignore it at first, thinking that the boy had Tourettes that had gone unnoticed or, possibly, he was obsessive/compulsive.

By the time we reached the Tappan Zee Bridge, I couldn’t take it anymore. Just when I was about to say something, his mother asked from the backseat, “Kev, what are you doing?”

“I’m playing padiddle,”he said.

“Padiddle” I asked, “What’s that?”

I found out that there are many versions of the game padiddle (even strip padiddle) but according to, padiddle is a game played while riding in a car. When you see a car with only one headlight on, yell out ‘padiddle!’ and punch the person next to you in the shoulder if they don’t say it also.

Kevin: Padiddle!
Me at the same time: (quiet)
Kevin: (punches me on the shoulder)

Luckily, Kevin learned a kindler/gentler version of this game and he never did punch me on the shoulder. He may have had mercy on me since I was driving. This was a good thing since Kevin stands about 6’4” and weighs about 280. Instead, he would knock the sun visor. Still the same, by the time we reached the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, I wanted to shove his padiddle down his throat.

My daughters have been playing a variation of padiddle lately. Their version is called “Punch Buggy.” Whenever someone in the car sees a Volkswagen Beetle they have to yell out “Punch Buggy—No Punch-backs!” They then deliver a punch in the arm to the person sitting next to them. Once starting this game, you’d be amazed at how many VW beetles there really are out there on the road.

My daughter’s 11-year-old friend Gwen has added another step to this game. She says that when you yell out “Punch Buggy—No Punch-backs!” you then need to include the color of the VW beetle you see.

Gwen: “Punch Buggy—No Punch-backs! Red!” (Delivers a punch in the arm)

Gwen’s nine-year-old brother invented another variant he calls “old man-no punch backs.” I hope this game doesn’t catch on. We have a lot of senior citizens in our town and we’d all end up with black and blue arms.

It’s gotten to the point that even my wife and I play this game when the kids are not in the car. She ALWAYS beats me—in fact, I finally got her, once, this week! My wife is only too happy to report to my daughters how many punch-buggy punches she has delivered to me each day!

Now it’s to the point where sometimes I’ll even play this game when I am alone in the car.

Me: Yellow Punch Buggy—No Punch Back! (Punching an imaginary person next to me.)

Sad, very sad—but at least it keeps me observant and awake.

Luckily we have no long road trips planned in the near future.


Anonymous said...

Punch Buggy no punch backs!!!!

Bobby said...

My wife suggests that Dick Cheney play the Ford F-150 game. She thinks it's more his speed.

In my part of Connecticut I'd probably have a decent F-150 kill rate, however, when I drive into Fairfield County I'll have to convert to the Cadillac Escalade game.

MotherOf3Guys said...

Oh, how some things never change...I have been privy to all the games: punchbuggy, padiddle, and Pull since I am mother of 3 guys! Those long trips can be killers!!!! That is why we bought a caravan. We had enough room to seperate the boys on trips! I know the inventor of the caravan had to have taken many trips with kids playing punchbuggy.