Flutterby™! : Oh, get over it.

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Oh, get over it.

2003-02-10 20:11:05+00 by Dan Lyke 8 comments

Two black passengers sue Southwest Airlines over "racist rhyme". A flight attendant said "Eenie, meenie, minie, moe; pick a seat, we gotta go." Now I'm a big fan of the Southwest attitude about flight attendant speeches, and frankly I'd never heard the racist version they mention. It'd be a shame if two shameless publicity hounds managed to make a friendly airline lose some of its more endearing qualities.

[ related topics: Aviation moron Current Events ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2003-02-10 21:11:24+00 by: Jette

I grew up in the Deep South and I never heard that version of the rhyme, either. In fact, I've used "eenie, meenie, minie, moe" frequently and never knew about these alleged racist origins. Now, despite that fact that I think this whole thing is really stupid, I'll probably never be able to say that rhyme again without stuttering and stopping myself midway through on the grounds that someone could be offended. Bleah.

#Comment made: 2003-02-10 22:09:35+00 by: John Anderson

It might be a Mid-Western/Upper South thing rather than a Deep South thing; I heard the racist version as a kid in Kansas and Missouri. (This would have been early to mid 1970s, FWIW.) In fact, I knew just from the "eenie, meenie" text, before I clicked on the link, that the men were refering to the "catching by the toe" ending; clearly, I heard it often enough that it's imprinted reasonably strongly. I think the most recent time I heard the rhyme in that part of the country, there was an s/n/t/ on the offensive word.

Now, as to the intent of the flight attendant in using the rhyme, <shrug>. "I ain't gettin' into it", as the priest said to the choir boy. But there is a regional variation, apparently including Kansas City (where the story is date-lined), that does incorporate the offensive version.

#Comment made: 2003-02-10 23:00:27+00 by: petronius

The racist version was certainly common in Chicago in the 1950's & 60's. The more squemish changed the key word to "monkey".

#Comment made: 2003-02-10 23:09:37+00 by: Dan Lyke

Until I saw this article, I'd never heard anything but "tiger". And that includes 9 years living in the south. As a child in the northeast we always used to use it as a pseudo-random picking mechanism, until someone figured out modulo arithmetic.

#Comment made: 2003-02-11 00:24:33+00 by: Diane Reese

Charlie says they always used the offensive version in TX when he was a kid, but I'd never heard it until I was an adult. We always used the "tiger" version in NJ when I was a kid. Like you, Dan, we used it to pick people for things, but when it became too obvious what the result would be, we added another phrase which should have been easy to figure out the regular result of, but I guess we thought it was long enough that kids (who were the only ones who counted anyway) would get confused in the middle and give up: "My mother says to pick the very best one and you are IT!" Occasionally, someone would be *really* creative and add their own ending: "My mother says to pick the very best one and you are the one she told me to PICK!"

Oh. Right. Southwest. <ahem> I'd be sorry if Southwest had any lasting stuffy consequences from this, too. Get over it, indeed.

#Comment made: 2003-02-11 14:06:11+00 by: ghasty

In North Georgia in the 70's...heard the "n" version plenty of times...but then again, I had cub scout meetings downstairs from where the local Klan met...they also sold yummy pecan logs on the streets...

#Comment made: 2003-02-22 00:20:04+00 by: margaret davis

In "THe Organ Grinder's Swing," Ella Fitzgerald sings the lyric as "catch a monkey" by the toe. That's how I heard it growing up in LA in the 60's.

#Comment made: 2003-02-23 08:22:52+00 by: Shawn [edit history]

Like Diane and Dan, I'd always known it as "tiger" and it was only used in the same context (pseudo-random selection). I think I may have had somebody mention the existence of the racist version sometime in my adulthood, but I'm not sure. I was born and grew up in the Seattle area.