Doggie doggie diamond
Step right out
Not because you’re dirty
Not because you’re clean
just because you kissed the girl behind the magazine
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe
Catch a tiger by the toe
If he hollers let him go,
Eeny, meany, miny, moe
My mother told me
To pick this one
And you are [not] it.
This is how many of our games started. A band of unruly misfits, ages ranging from 6-12 years old, a bunch tattered sneakers in a circle, while one of us recited this rhyme, to see who would be “it”. No one ever wanted to be “it” and I was happy that I wasn’t. Well not this time
We played many games, Tag, and no it doesn’t mean, “Touch and Go” , fuck that Millennial bullshit. Manhunt, Ringolevio, Freeze Tag, Red Light Green Light, Hide and Seek, Duck Duck Goose, you name it we played it. These are a few of the games I looked forward to playing once I got out of school and made it home. Many days we played during recess and or at lunch time while at school, but it didn’t compare to when I was home in my neighborhood with my friends. Yes I know, most kids tend to go to schools in their own neighborhoods, but I didn’t. I had to take the Bx 36 bus across town from West side to East, about a 45 minute to an hour ride from home. Yes I had friends in school, but they weren’t the same as my buddies from my block, 1541-51 Shakespeare Ave and the surrounding area.
The 80’s in New York City, for those who remember were chaotic. Crime, drugs, poverty and unemployment. The New York of now is like visiting a theme park (Disney World) compared to the New York of old. We know the stories, but this here is about how we were allowed to be kids during these tough times.
These were the simpler times of my youth. Not to say that the times were simple, but as a kid I wasn’t too focused on what was going on outside of my realm. I stayed in a kids place. I was well fed, had a roof over my head, clothing, even though they were very few items, but they were clean and I had friends. Not social media friends, even though I’m still in touch with most through social media, but real friends. (Link, Amar, Harmeen, Wally, Demetrius, Anthony, Shawn, Chiffon, Sonia, Eric, Hassan, Joey, both Juans, White Boy Steve and those from other blocks). Sorry if I missed anyone, because I know I did, and misspelled anyone’s name. These were some my friends growing up. And many games were played.
This afternoons’ game was Manhunt. A game similar to Tag, which started with one person being “It” and everyone scattering about the neighborhood. Every time the person who was “It” tagged someone that person would join in the “Manhunt” for the rest, until everyone was caught. The game could last 15 minutes or hours depending how adept you were at hiding from those trying to find you. Some of us were better than others but it was always fun.
1,2,3,4,5,6, 7…we all scatter and ran our separate ways. Some to the mountains other to the next street or inside the building. A few time we would cheat and go inside our home for a brief while then come back outside. Don’t lie, you know you did. Good times. And yes I said mountains, we had one by our home.
This game like many played before was spent running around carefree. Focused on avoiding being found and tagged. Many a days and nights were of this nature. All because of a game. A game that entailed we leave our homes and socialize with our actual friends. Many times after playing said games laying up on someone’s car (Panama’s bat mobile) looking up at the sky. In my case dreaming of what car I would drive or how much money I would have, but not really thinking of how any of these things would be attained. And when the street lights began to flicker or you’d heard the sound of Link’s mom whistle out the window, know that time was up and you needed to head upstairs to your homes where for some the heartache truly began, but while outside playing with your friends that heartache didn’t exist. These are the times we the kids from the 70’s and 80’s hold dear to our hearts.
So to all that can relate and yearn for those simpler times.
Tag your It.