Friday, March 24, 2006

Like Wanda Maximoff

I'm taking an informal poll. Did you, as a child (or, you know, yesterday), participate in the ritual of "jinx"-ing? In my experience, this happened when two persons said the same word or phrase simultaneously. The first person to complete the incantation of "jinx" effectively cast a spell of silence over the other, only to be lifted when the jinx-er spoke the jinx-ee's name.

An example, for those who are completely unfamiliar; Miriam and Douglas (honestly, Mr. Lain, they're just the first two names that popped into my head) are talking, and both utter the phrase "We be illin'" simultaneously. Miriam quickly says "jinx," and by playground law Douglas is now unable to speak until she says his name.

What's interesting to me are the elaborations and variations. When I was young, it was the incantation that acquired new parts; following the "jinx" one had to say "Knock on wood," followed by the name of a beer ("Schmidt," a local St. Paul brew, was the default choice), "Buy me a Coke" (I think it was kosher to say any soda/pop, but Coke is easiest to say), and eventually there were other additions which I have forgotten. To release the jinx-ee, however, we had only to say the person's name.

This, however, is only a snapshot of the ritual in one suburban Minnesota school district. I want to know about your regional variations, please! And yes, this might be research, but I'm also gen-yoo-wine-lee interested. So please comment below!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ours was "You owe me a coke."

But you should make Christopher do his. Perform it at Wiscon. He remembers the entire song.

12:23 PM  
Blogger haddayr said...

I'm not sure this was a regional variation, but we had to repeat the person's name four or maybe five times. You'd keep count, or else the person would be kind and say the name five times real quick.

I think my sisters and I made that up, though, and there was no buy me a coke and all that stuff, although other kids did: "Jinx! Buy me a Coke." Copley-Woods girls did not drink Coke.

12:25 PM  
Blogger haddayr said...

Oh! And if we said "jinx" simultaneously, you'd have to say: "double jinx, triple jinx, quadruple jinx . . . " until one screwed up or lost track of the numbers and the other had said it first.

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With me, it was just "Jinx" but my wife grew up with "Buy me a Coke!" added on. And I've heard other people say "Jinx! Five! Ten!"

12:27 PM  
Blogger Among Amid While said...

We had to link little fingers and make a wish. There was none of this silence and releasing-with-the-name stuff, although I have seen it since. Actually, maybe you had to stay silent between the uttering of 'jinx!' and the completion of the wish-making.

No little songs, nothing about soft drinks. Country town, New South Wales version.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

"Jinx, you owe me a coke." I don't remember how to get out of a jinx.. come to think of it, I may still be carrying around many years' worth of jinxes to this very day. How do you get unjinxed again?

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, but you knew that already. We just used the standard "Jinx!" Though I vaguely remember there being a double-jinx or super-jinx or some such.

- H

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Around here, my kids are still doing this. After the dual phrase, the person who says "Jinx" last has to stay quiet until anyone says their name. Usually, though there is a repetition of "jinx" repeated by both people and much laughter follows. No winner or loser in that case.

Pam M

4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had the standard issue jinx in Virginia where I grew up. No cokes bought, just silence till the name was said.

6:42 PM  
Blogger Barb said...

I grew up in Connecticut where we also had the "Owe me a coke" curse. No cokes were ever collected, as far as I remember. I've only heard of the counting to ten thing recently, you'll have to ask Richard about the rules on that one.

11:29 PM  
Blogger chance said...

You totally owe me a coke - I just wrote this exact post. *punch* what? you were talking while jinxed.

2:20 AM  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Yep. Jinxing was a childhood game in Scotland too. None of that "I owe you a Coke" stuff though. No we got the variant where the punishment for speaking before the jinxer released you (by saying your name) was a thump on the arm.

6:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No jinx per se, but if you spoke the same words at the same time as someone else, by accident, then you had to link little fingers with the other person and chant together, "Pins and needles, needles and pins, if you touch something blue, your wish will come true". Then, fingers still linked, you'd touch something blue together and get good luck.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Trent said...

My brothers and I had "Hoke, poke, you owe me a Coke." Not sure where this variant came from, but I suspect it was from mom who spent time growing up in Nebraska, Iowa, and Louisiana and hence had lots of different regional sayings at her disposal.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Valeriannah said...

Hee Hee, what a funny subject. I grew up in L.A. and in the 60's there we said "Jinx you owe me a Coke!" I found this blog because I just used the phrase in a forum, and thought "hmmm maby this guy has no idea what I'm saying". So I googled the phrase for the heck of it and wound up here.

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey what if someone doesnt obey the whone jinx thing?

Here we either do "jinx you owe me a soda" or the littler kids do "Jinx, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10" or CHEAPER littler kids just go "Jinx, 10"....Thats what my little brother used to do...Thats in oregon....O_0

-Evan, age 13

8:33 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Well, Evan, the thing about "Jinx" is that it is a magic spell of sorts, but one that only works if the social contract is kept. It's possible for a person to just keep right on talking after a "Jinx," but doing so creates a separation, however temporary, between the modes of accepted interaction and the individual who transgresses against them. In other words, those who don't respect the rules of "Jinx" are to be feared and ostracized.

11:38 AM  

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