People like to know how their regional traditions look to those who were raised in an entirely different environment. At least they want to know as long as the impression is positive. I’ll leave it to you to decide how well one of our unique northern rituals comes off in this guest blog by Beth-ann.
Tommy Don’t Lick that Pipe – a song by John McCutcheon
Winter is a-coming
And the weather’s getting cold
I have to watch my brother Tom
He’s eight years old
I never have to worry
That he’ll slip on ice and fall
In fact there’s only just one thing
That worries me at all
Tommy, don’t lick that pipe
Your tongue will stick like glue
I’ve warned you twice
And I wish you’d mind
Don’t you remember
What happened last time
You can do about anything else that you like
But Tommy, don’t lick that pipe
Do you still remember Uncle Albert
Such scientific curiosity
He stuck his tongue out on the old pump handle
It took us two whole days to get him free
Do you still remember Grandma Dawson
She touched her tongue on to a waterspout
She said she thought that it was made of plastic
It took us until May to thaw her out
Do you still remember our dog Fluffy
He went outside to do his doggy thing
We found him frozen solid to a hydrant
We couldn’t break him loose until the spring
I grew up where it was warmer and thought admonitions not to “lick the pump handle” were the equivalent of “Don’t eat the yellow snow” or were the stuff of Little House on the Prairie and Caddie Woodlawn. That was until they called from preschool to say that my son had licked the stair railing and stuck to it.
Luckily Scott attended a fine Minnesota preschool with teachers specially trained in tongue defrosting and removal. They detached him without trouble.
I turned to my coworkers with the story expecting them to agree that my kid was a goofball. Instead the universal response was, “Didn’t you tell him not to lick the pipe?”
Both on that day and ever since the Minnesotan inevitably continues on with a reminiscence of a personal licking and sticking experience. No matter how many decades have passed the storyteller has crystal clear memories of the sparkling icicle, glistening jungle gym, or icy cold hammer. Amazingly enough the pain and embarrassment of the adhesion and the removal pale next to the telling of how cool it was to lick those icy sparkles.
I have come to the conclusion that this licking and sticking is the quintessential Minnesota experience. It is what separates tourists from the true denizens of the frozen tundra. Tommy and Scotty were warned not to lick, but they slurped their way into Minnesota and stuck to it.
What did you do BECAUSE you were told NOT to do it?