1996 was a simple year. Most of our decisions were made for us, and those that weren’t were always easy to resolve.
One of the biggest decisions that had to be made on a daily basis was who was "it" for tag. We developed a few methods for solving this problem.
The first and most primitive was the Eeka Laka. The starter would call out "Put your foot in!", and everyone who was playing would arrange themselves in a circle, and put one foot into the centre. The starter would then go onto his knees and place his index finger on a random person’s shoe. He would then start saying the phrase, and would tap the next person’s shoe on each word, moving either clockwise or counterclockwise at his discretion.
"Eeka laka horses caca eeka laka out."
Whoever the starter finished on was eliminated (much to their relief – you never wanted to be it), and then the starter would begin again, over and over again until only one person was left. That person was "it".
The "Eeny Meeny Miny Moe", a classic, was also regularly used in those early days. It was up to the starter to decide which method would be used on a particular day. If he chose the Eeny Meeny Miny Moe, he would speak as follows:
"Eeny Meeny Miny Moe,
Catch a tiger by the toe.
If he hollers, let him go.
Eeny Meeny Miny Moe."
That was the basic Eeny Meeny. However, the starter could choose to continue this if he wanted to:
"So out you go."
If the starter wanted to continue still further, he had that option as well:
"By my big father’s big fat toe."
Probably my favourite of the early decision making methods was "Two Cigarettes." This one differed from the Eeka Laka and the Eeny Meeny in that instead of putting a foot into the centre of the circle, all players had to put two fingers in. The starter would then tap each person on the hand, rather than the foot:
"Put your two cigarettes in,
Let me hear you cough, sir."
And at this point, whoever the starter had just tapped would have to cough. Then the starter would continue:
"Very bad indeed sir,
how much do you need sir?"
Despite the bad grammar, the person who had just been tapped would have to say a number. Any number. The starter would then continue on:
"One, two, three, four, five, six…"
He would count up to the number that the person had said. Unlike Eeka Laka and Eeny Meeny, whoever was out was not instantly eliminated from being "it". Instead, they would put only one finger into the middle for all subsequent rounds. Only once they had been "out" twice were they officially eliminated. Two Cigarettes was unique in that it gave some degree of power to the rest of the players. Alas, it was largely abandoned once we learned how to do simple math.
Along the same lines as Two Cigarettes was "Black Shoe." I never liked Black Shoe much because it was simply a less entertaining version of Two Cigarettes. Everyone would put a foot in, and the starter would say:
"Black shoe, black shoe,
Change your black shoe."
Upon which whoever had last been touched would switch feet. If he or she was called out a second time, they were officially eliminated. Again, just a diluted version of Two Cigarettes.
One that was considered taboo early on was "Snake in the Grass", due to its usage of unsavoury language.
"There’s a snake in the grass with a bullet in its ass,
Stick it in, stick it out, like a good boy scout."
Very few starters ever ventured into this territory. "Ass" was an unspeakable word.
Those are the five that I can remember off the top of my head. I’m sure that there are more that I can’t remember right now.
How did you guys decide who was "it"?