Background: The account below is explaining a game that the informant used to play as a child with her family members. The informant is Mexican American and grew up on the South Side of Chicago. She remembers a few games and stories that she played as a kid that would entertain her and her cousins without toys, or often supervision. However, the specific game below is one she learned from her mom, who learned it from her mom, who heard it from her mom. This has been passed for generations. The informant doesn’t remember playing this in school, only with family members.
*** names of informant’s family members are represented by S, J, R
My sisters used to play that. They’d be like okay, “Lie down! Echale sal…” and my mom too. If we were bored in the car she’d say okay let’s play a game. And like you bend over on the legs and you pull the back of your shirt up and you take turns, and you have to guess who pinched you. Was it S, was it J, was it R, ya know, was it mom? Who pinched you? It’s a group game and if you guessed right then that person would go next. If you guessed wrong you’d lie back down and do the pinch over again until you guessed who pinched you. If they were being jerks they pinched hard. “Echale sal al animal, quien te pico” It means, “put salt on the animal who bit you” and pico is like a poke, like a fork. Like you would stick an animal with a fork, ya know. That’s why they said put salt on the animal — like they’re salting you up when they rub their hands on your back. Echale sal al animal— and PLOOP. And poke. So rubbing the salt on the back is like they’re seasoning an animal and then boop you get pinched… I mean you have to think way back when as kids you had to entertain yourselves. We all played that. Well, the family did.
Context: This conversation took place over a video chat. During the conversation I asked about her version of this saying, sharing that I had my own. The informant instantly filled with giddy nostalgia as she explained something so natural and personal to her childhood.
My thoughts: I grew with the same Spanish text: Echale sal al animal quien te pico. However, my experience never translated over to a game. My mother would rub my back in circles saying the line, and then she would lightly and playfully give my back a pinch. This happened a lot in an embrace, so it was always a term or gesture of endearment. My family members often did this to each other sometimes if they were being playful. More to the little kids who would go off giggling after being pinched. I was fascinated to learn the informant’s version. I realized that both of our experiences were terms of endearment that we shared with a select few. Moreover, it brings back happy childhood memories. I feel that this game is also related to other hand/ body games that children would play with their closest friends to jovially pass time without worry.