The Slug Bug is dead! Long live the Smug Bug!

Back in the 80s, the Volkswagen beetle was as common as a can of new Coke, the phrase “totally radical” or a pair of Esprit jeans. Combine the VW Bug’s popularity with the iconic and easily spotted shape, and it was the perfect car for a road game. The rules of this game varied from family to family – some played “slug bug” (or punch buggy), where siblings were encouraged to punch each other as hard as they could whenever they spotted a VW Bug. My family liked to play “Herbie,” where it was a contest to see who could spot the most. I suspect this was because I was an only child, and my parents didn’t want me to punch them as hard as I could – but I digress. smug-alert

The days of slug bugs and herbies seems to have died – as there just aren’t that many 40 year old cars on the road anymore. Sure, there was the New Beetle, and supposedly was a special “slug” you were supposed to use, but that never caught on and really even those aren’t as prevalent as their ancestor beetles. There’s a huge void in the “spot the car while abusing your siblings and friends” style of game! So what do we do? The answer is simple: SmugBugs!

The name “SmugBug” is my nickname for the Toyota Prius. I can’t claim credit for the word, so don’t say that I coined the phrase. I gained inspiration for the phrase “smug bug” from the South Park episode “Smug Alert,” where people droves of South Park residence decided to drive Prii and felt like they were some sort of environmental hero – when really they were just smug idiots. From the episode…

…although emission levels are down, people who drive hybrids spew “self-satisfied garbage” into the air, an emission called “smug”, and South Park now has the second-highest levels in the country, after San Francisco.

To be fair, not all who drive hybrids, particularly those who drive Prii (I swear that’s really the plural), are by far from smug. In fact, my one experience riding in a Prius involved the driver pressing the start button several times, cussing, and calling their beloved vehicle a damned piece of junk. Having said that, there are plenty of people who drive a Prius with a smug self-satisfaction of being a hero. One can often times recognize these people by their bumper stickers. Phrases like “There is no planet B” or “My other car is a bicycle,” or “Vegans do it in the dirt…” These smug addicts often times litter their cars with multitudes of these bumper stickers. You’ll also notice a distinct sound coming from their speakers. It’s a song you may or may not have heard but sounds like it’s trying way too hard to not sound like every other piece of indie rock that’s been produced in the last three or four years.

At what point did this car become a parody of itself?
At what point did this car become a parody of itself?

But back to the game already…how does one play “SmugBug?” The rules of SmugBug are quite simple – when you see a Prius, yell “SmugBug (color of the car)” and punch the person next to you as hard as you can – or at least as hard as the law allows without an attempted assault and battery charge. Once someone “calls” a specific car, that car cannot be called again. It’s literally the same rules as Slug Bug – only instead of a car designed for Nazi Germany, you’ve got a vehicle designed for Nazi tree-huggers.

So, mourn not the death of VW Beatle. Mourn not the fact that you will never have to drive your kids to the hospital because Tommy slugged Tammy a little too hard. Mourn not that a demonically possessed car piloted by Dean Jones will never again get a movie! Hit your sister as hard as you can! You jut saw a Toyota with the number 53 on its silver finish parked in the Whole Foods parking lot! Herbie Rides again!

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