Place item was collected
Logan, Utah. My apartment.
Point of Discovery/Informant Bio
Dylan Butler is 20 years old and studying music at Iowa Western Community College. Dylan is my boyfriend and we have been friends since high school. Dylan’s father was in the United States Navy, which resulted in Dylan living in many different states growing up. He lived in Virginia and Washington, but Castle Rock, Colorado was his true home. He moved from Castle Rock to Steamboat Springs, Colorado when he was a high school junior. Dylan played percussion with the renowned Drum Corp. International group the Blue Knights, and continues to play music as well as teach it. Dylan’s hobbies include playing video games, watching movies, thinking, watching YouTube, and programming.
Dylan and I are in a long distance relationship, but find time to talk on the phone often. The interview took place late one evening, while we were on the phone having casual conversation. We were discussing an upcoming road trip that I will be taking, and I asked him what games I should play and what games he likes to play in the car. The informant said that his family often quizzed each other with trivia rather than playing games, but they did consistently play punchbuggy. When Dylan was explaining the way that he plays punchbuggy he noted that he learned it from his father, and he only called it punchbuggy when he was on the eastern side of the United States. When he was in the Western states, including Colorado he always called it slug bug. The game can be played anytime you are in the car, and most people have their own version of the rules.
So, Slug bug then. Learned it from my dad, and it’s an ongoing thing. There was no official start, there is no end. Everyone out east that I knew called it punchbuggy. Rules are that when you see a Volkswagen bug, you can hit someone and yell “slug bug.” Each bug is only used once. After that, you cannot, nor can anyone else, use that bug as an excuse to hit anyone. The exception is if the bug disappears from sight. If the bug disappears from sight it can be used again by anyone. This typically required the agreement of everyone in the car.
We didn’t change anything from how we learned it, but we did add a rule of our own. It’s that you can’t hit two bugs of the same color in a row. No double colors, even if its two separate bugs. Makes it a little more fun. Red followed by white is fine. Blue followed by Blue is bad. Yellow followed by green followed by green is good until you hit the second green. The last hit doesn’t count. We never actually called it punchbuggy, it was always called slug bug to me. I just used the terms interchangeably for a while. Although, if we are being real, I always thought punchbuggy was a better name for the game, but slug bug sounds better as something to call out. So, the game is punchbuggy, and when you see a bug you say slug bug. That’s just opinion though, its weird to call out punchbuggy.
Dylan spoke of the rules in a very matter of fact, moderate tone of voice. It seemed as though he accepted his version of the rules as the correct rules to use. He mentioned that the game is often played to break up tension on a long road trip with family, something he experienced often. Throughout his telling of the rules Dylan would interject his opinions to create a better sense of his personal experience with them.
Introduction to Folklore, History 2210
Dr. Lynne McNeill
Semester and year
G6: Competition Games
Parks, Shannon, "Punchbuggy" (2017). USU Student Folklore Fieldwork. Paper 35.