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Guitar George

The fresh snow has reminded me of one of my 515 favorite songs. Head over to the 500 Songs Blog, where I reminisce about skitching, bad teenage poetry and Greek civilization, all to the tune of Sultans of Swing. Did anyone else used to skitch (hang onto bumpers of cars to slide on the snow) or were we the only retards who tried that?


In Texas, there was no snow. If you tried to "skitch," you would become a skid mark.

Then , in 1982, it snowed 16 inches overnight. Talk about DEFCON ONE!

We were just as retarded in Boston. I remember cutting my hand open pretty good on a bumper once and continuing to ride like an idiot instead of having it taken care of properly.

"Skitching" was a time-honored Long Island ritual signifying the passage from sheltered chidhood into pre-teen loutism. How many gloves did I lose in the quest of the perfect slide down Nassau Blvd? (An instant give-away to the sharp-eye Mom.) VW's were the best, of course, with their round tubular bumpers making for the easy grab-and-go, but the Bug's lack of horsepower sometimes meant that two or three thirteen year-olds could anchor the thing a dead stop, giving the driver an opportunity to get out and yell, and for his trouble get pelted with snowballs. (Local legend had it that three friends were left sitting on their asses holding an unsuspecting Bug owner's bumper as the Beetle scrambled away into the distance.) The wildest ride I remember was on the back of a Daily News truck. It was easy to ride because the bumpers were so high. But the driver was an absolute maniac who, of course, made every damned light. Eventually, we had to just bail out and tumble down the street a couple of miles from where we started. I never touched a newspaper truck again.

Glad to here that the practice continues up on L.I., and happier still that my Virginia kids don't know anything about it.

We did it in Oshkosh, WI. A friend tried it on a bus and made it from one stop to the next. The worst was when you were skitching and hit a patch of dry (or at least non-slippery) pavement. Face plant....

Skitch? Growing up in Alaska, we called it hooky-bobbing (dunno why). School busses were always great for that--the drivers can't see you, and half-a-dozen kids can ride at once.

I grew up in Far Rockaway(I'm sure Michele has heard of it:) ) and skitching was required by law, as was bus-jumping (hop on the back bumper of a bus trying to stay out of the driver's rear-view).

We did this on a rare snow day in Northern Va... It got boring quickly so we decided to use rope and a saucer to enhance the "whip effect" unfortunately one of us broke his arm running into a curb... Since he was one of our best wrestlers, the rest of us suffered through several practices where the coach was trying to "sweat out of our idiot behavior"

No, all we did growing up was follow the mosquito abatement truck around and dance in the pretty white fog until the driver chased us off.

That might explain my limited function in the mathematic area.

As a young lad in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, I was often tempted to make an attempt to skitch. But I never did it, as I was too much of an anti-non-conformist or whatever it is that I use to justify my lack of rebellion before turning thirteen. I did enjoy snowbound games of "Smear the Queer", however. Such an innocent time: learning to hate the ball carrier and his alleged sexual proclivities, all in the name of childhood fun and activity.

Making bobsled runs that go from the backyard to the front and into the street was where the real idiocy came into play. An all-clear at the start could easily turn into a flattened boy at the end. Damn cars just don't play nice with kids in the winter.

We had a discussion about "Smear the Queer" over at Fark last month. I never heard it called that, but I knew the game the second it was described.

We called it, simply, Kill The Guy With The Ball.

We skitched in NJ too, and also favored busses. The problem was those manhole covers-dry as a bone.

I once went all the way to the mall (about five miles) by skitching. It took about twenty vehicles and almost an hour but it made me famous at the time.

In Southern California, we used to go "Ice blocking." Our locations of choice were white, members-only golf courses.

"Kill the guy with the ball"?! We were anti-PC before anti-PC was cool.

We called it "Bumper Skiing" here in Northern Virginia, but I never heard the term "skitching" until I moved to Atlanta.

In January of '82 Atlanta got hit by a snow/ice storm (same storm that hit DC and the Air Florida plane crashed into the Potomac).
My roommates from Hollywood, MD decided we should go skitching and I ended up driving up and down Briarwood Rd with 9 or 10 drunken rednecks hanging off the sides and back of my car.

That's funny, we used to go skitching in the summer with our roller blades. Never occured to us to try it on ice in the winter.

Skitching is a tiny bit less dangerous if you use an open pickup tailgate to hold onto instead of a bumper as you can occasionally see dry patches through the windshield.

Hey francis, if you haven't already try using a mountain bike as your tow vehicle while you're on blades in the summer, using a cut in half inner tube tied to the seat post as a tow rope. The bike can go a lot of places cars can't, and the inner tube makes for less jerky pulls. Thoroughly entertaining although tiring for the bike rider.

I "skitch" of the back/side of my motorcycle... does that count?

Yep...was almost arrested for it...three times in one night. Hmmm, sounds like a post of my own.

I skitched into the 90's when I met a highly agessive sycamore tree who wouldn't yield the right of way.

We called it "car surfing", and didn't use a sled, just our feet. It worked great with wet snow or even when it rained enough.

Michelle, Smear the Queer was popular in my neighborhood, but not as popular as a game called "Horum". All the kids would line up on one side of the field, with one kid in the center who would shout out "Horum!". Upon hearing the magic word everyone would try to charge to the other side of the field, and the person in the center had to tackle someone and pin them to the ground. The takled person would then join the original person in the center and again they would shout out "Horum!" causing all the others to charge the other way. Each time there would be more kids in the center and less to charge across the field. The winner would be the last kid to get pinned down, and was "it" for the next game.

UPS trucks were the Mercedes of Skitching in my hometown in CT... Those two big vertical handles on the rear made for an easy grab - you just had to worry about the frequent stops.

We just called it bumper-riding in Saskatchewan - not too creative up here I guess. Kids are stupid everywhere.

As a drunken teenager I was once too stubborn to let go when the car crossed the highway and took my feet out from under me. I remember thinking how cool it was that the friction burned through both knees of my jeans, but I wasn't hurt at all. Until I got into the light and saw all the blood ...

Skitching was fun, but only for a few times as it got boring real quickly as the snow disappeared from the street. If there was no snow, I had my friends pulling down the block on my skateboard at 30-40 mph. Sometimes I miss being young and stupid, life was a lot more fun then...

Kill The Guy - one of the time honored traditions in grammar school, and the nuns actually allowed us to play it! I learned how to sweat playing that game - and how to run like the devil!

One of the games we used to love to play, and I can't forget, is Kick the Can. I broke my foot playing it by kicking the big rock the can (actually a 2 liter bottle) was on by accident, and it took me 2 weeks and a soccer coach yelling at my grandmother demanding she take me to the "f"ing hospital for her to believe me it was broken. The foot is crooked to this day.

Hooray for troubled childhoods!

We did this in northern NY state too (Canton NY). Leaving a Saturday night dance in my small town on a snowy night, there would be numbers of kids hitching a ride behind a passing car to get downtown. You just sneak up behind them at a stop sign and hang on. There was one kid who became an instant legend - he grabbed the back of an 18-wheeler and caught a ride to the next town - 11 miles away!