Hand-Clapping Game/Rhyme

Miss Suzie had a steamboat/?The steamboat had a bell (ding ding!)/?Miss Suzie went to heaven/?The steamboat went to/?Hello operator,?Please give me number nine/?If you disconnect me?I’ll kick you from/?Behind the refrigerator there was a piece of glass/?Miss Suzie sat upon it and cut her little/?Ask me no more questions/?Tell me no more lies/?The boys are in the bathroom zipping up their/?Flies are in the meadow/?The bees are in the park/?Miss Suzie and her boyfriend are kissing in the/ D-A-R-K, D-A-R-K, DARK DARK DARK/ Dark is like a movie/?A movie’s like a show/?A show is like a TV screen/?And that is all I know!

Sarah said that she would sing the “Miss Suzie” song when she was younger while playing a hand-clapping game.  She said she would do it for fun and would play the game with other girls her age during recess.  Although the clapping itself was fun, Sarah told me that the main reason she enjoyed playing the game was the play on words in the lyrics.  As a little kid, she said that she felt sneaky and cool when she would almost say the word “ass” but instead actually would say “ask”.  Also, Sarah noted that even though she did not actually use any cuss words, she would try to avoid singing the song in front of adults because she did not want to get in trouble.  However, whenever older kids were around, Sarah said she would try to play with them because she wanted to be cool and sing the song with them.  Once Sarah graduated to middle school, she stopped playing the game but to this day still remembers all of the words to the “Miss Suzie” song because she used to sing it so much as a kid.

The “Miss Suzie” song clearly seems to be a way for younger children to experiment with more “mature” concepts like intimate relationships and faux-vulgarity of words that sound like cuss words.  Technically they are not saying anything inappropriate, but they come very close, which emphasizes how immature singing the song is, since genuinely mature people would not sing such lyrics.  The childish nature of the song is further illustrated by its simple rhyme scheme and use of repetitively spelling out words.

Sarah said she liked to sing the song when older kids were present, thus showing how the song was used as a method of being accepted by others in the community.  For Sarah, being deemed “cool” by older kids was something desirable, and she felt that the play on words in the song would help her achieve a higher social status.  Her position within her group of friends was very important to Sarah as a child because it helped her form her identity and establish herself as a member of a certain group of people.  As Sarah grew up, though, she no longer needed to rely on acting cool via hand-clapping songs in order to make friends and eventually stopped signing those types of songs.  Even so, the song is such a memorable part of her childhood that even today she can recite the words.

I remember singing this song when I was younger, and like Sarah, I felt cool to almost say cuss words and be able to get away with it.  Most importantly, I remember this song made me feel like a part of a special group, since only certain people knew the rhyme and the clapping game that went with it.  The song contributed to the formation of my identity in elementary school and helped connect me with others that could sing the song with me.  Also similar to Sarah, as I grew up, I found other ways to form bonds with people (and I also realized that it was not very cool to sing clapping game songs) so I abandoned the practice of playing these games.