Rhyme/Game – Encino, California

“No cuts, no butts, no coconuts!”

Lindsay is my 22-year-old best friend and roommate. She grew up in Encino, California also known as “The Valley” but after graduating from USC last year, she lives with me in Westwood, California. Lindsay is a fair and practical person, which extends back to when she was a little girl and the notion of cutting in line. As a little kid, Lindsay was taught about the rules of cutting in line: the correct way to “cutsies” was to ask, but of course with asking came anger from the back of the line which is when it is appropriate to use the rhythm “No cuts, no butts, no coconuts!” Lindsay learned the saying from her friends at school, who in turn learned it from their peers or possibly even older peers. “It was playground rules, all kids knew them, but no one knew where they came from.” Lindsay’s contribution to this collection of folklore was shared with me at Starbucks, as she sang the rhyme, she also pointed her finger in beat with the syllabus. “If you yelled out ‘no cuts, no butts, no coconuts’ you meant business,” Lindsay recalled. “There were rules and a general understanding about ‘cutsies’ and if you abused the rules then there was a consequence.”

I also used the saying when in elementary school and I don’t recall from whom in particular I learned it from, it was general schoolyard rhetoric. Lindsay and I both agreed that the saying was powerful, yes teachers could say no cutting in line but if you heard that rhythm coming from your peers it was serious. Lindsay explained that the singsong rhythm was significant because although it was a schoolyard song, it also provided a foundation for following rules later on in life.

Lindsay’s performance of the rhythm shows how ingrained and mesmerizing children’s rhymes can be. She probably hadn’t recited the rhythm in 15 years but it didn’t matter, she didn’t waiver in her performance.