Jun 14 2016
Last week at softball, I was chilling out — sitting on the ground — and one of my teammates remarked that he can’t sit “Indian style” anymore, due to bad knees.
I felt obliged to tell him: “You don’t have kids, so you don’t know this, but sitting like this is now called ‘criss-cross apple sauce.'” He looked bewildered by this statement; I rolled my eyes in response.
Of all the new iterations and terms scrubbed clean of race, creed or culture, this one is the most perplexing. What is offensive about sitting Indian style? I understand why phrases with negative connotations, such as “Indian giver,” have faded away. But there’s nothing disparaging about sitting cross-legged on the ground.
And who played Dictionary God and replaced the term with criss-cross applesauce? What the hell does applesauce have to do with the way a person sits?
I cracked open my laptop and clacked away. Some internet digging unearthed a few nursery rhymes which refer to pureed apples, including:
Spiders crawling up your back
Spiders here, spiders there
Spiders even in your hair
Cool breeze, tight squeeze
Now you’ve got the shivers
I also found this one:
Criss-cross, applesauce, no one else can play with us. If they do, we’ll take our shoe and beat them ’til they’re black and blue… criss-cross applesauce.
Boy, that last one is catchy and it certainly gets the message across…
Anyway, at some ill-defined moment in the last 20 years, teachers taught kids, “Criss-cross, applesauce, give your hands a clap. Criss-cross applesauce, cross them in your lap.”
And with that, “Indian style” was quietly retired.
As for that term, its origins are murky. While it sounds like an obvious reference to the way Native American Indians sat on the ground, some challenge this theory. They believe its roots are British, and relate to people of India, seated in the lotus position.
Who knows? What is clear is that it’s no longer part of the classroom vernacular.
I mentioned this to Martin and he said, “By that rationale, that’s the end of the song, ‘Walk Like An Egyptian.'”
I looked that up, too. Apparently, the writer of this 80s hit composed the lyrics after watching people walk awkwardly to keep their balance on a pitching ferry, which reminded him of ancient Egyptian figures.
I told Martin that he can listen to “Walk Like An Egyptian” until someone releases a PC version entitled, “Walk like a person from the ancient kingdom in North East Africa, as they are depicted in hieroglyphics.” Or maybe a re-release related to the impetus of the song: “Walk like an off-balanced individual aboard a boat.”
Both of those choices… really suck.
They make me want to take my shoe, and beat someone black and blue.