JIM CREES: Calling out my friends

Not too long ago, folks in the newsroom at the Pioneer had a discussion about “dibs.”

I believe it had to do with someone calling “dibs” on the last doughnut or a piece of pizza. This discussion led to more talk about the related concepts of “double dibs” and “dead dibs.” Some people knew about “double dibs.” Most said they thought “dead dibs” was a made-up thing.

But all (varying ages and backgrounds) agreed - “dibs” was not something to be taken lightly.

One dictionary defines “dibs” as - “...a common, informal convention to reserve or declare full or partial ownership of a community resource, such as a chair.”

In a comment on the definition, one writer noted “...this convention also seems to contain some moral concept which is not described in dictionaries. For me, it looks like by calling dibs (or shotgun) the caller actually receives the implicit moral right to that resource, and this typically goes undisputed by rivals.”

Indeed. Calling “dibs” is more often than not a final determination of action, ownership, or control of a situation.

Woe to the kid (person) who decides to violate a “dibs” call. Reputations have been ruined for life.

Actually, though, I’m not writing about “dibs.” “Dibs” is “dibs.” It’s the law of the land. During the “dibs” conversation, however, I mentioned “calling out” to the editorial team. Calling out.

Nobody knew what calling out was!

I was shocked. I thought everyone - as kids - called their friends out in the same way as did I.

Growing up in Detroit, I would call my friends out to play by going to the side door and yelling at the top of my lungs - “Bob-bee, Bob-bee. Can you come out to play?” or “Joe-ee, Joe-ee. C’mon out!”

It was a sing-song thing, with a high musical emphasis on the “Bob” and a drop from high to low on the “bee.” The “Can you come out and play” was more a yelled question/imperative. It would be kind of the “Bob” at ‘C’ and the “Bee” being ‘C’ and lower ‘A.’ Sung loudly and forcibly enough to gain Bobby’s attention - even though he was Bob and not Bobby.

I was “Jim-mee, Jim-mee!” even though I hated being called “Jimmy.” Although in “calling out” it was legit.

Well. Imagine my surprise when I found most people didn’t know what “calling out” was! So... I called some former Detroiters (westsiders, I guess, and from the Warren area) and found they too didn’t know what I was talking about although it sounded vaguely familiar.

I then determined “calling out” was largely an eastside thing - almost a neighborhood custom or tradition.

How odd.

Everyone, but EVERYONE in my extended neighborhood “called out” in the same fashion.

Nobody went to the door, knocked and asked some kid’s mom if her kid could come out to play. That could open up a whole can of worms.

When I was growing up, every kid was not only subservient to their own mom, but to every other mom as well.

I once was at a grocery store a couple blocks from my house picking up something for my mom. A lady (who I don’t recall ever seeing) asked me, “Aren’t you Jimmy Crees?” I said “Yes.” She then said she needed help carrying her groceries home to her house on Haverhill - like five blocks from my own home!

I, of course, didn’t hesitate to help, ‘cause if I had not lugged those groceries home for her, she would’ve called my mom to tell her what an unfortunate and lazy child she and my dad had brought into the world - and my mom would have agreed!

I would have been severely taken to task (read: smacked silly) for not only not being helpful, but also for the ultimate sin of “Embarrassing The Family.”

In my neighborhood, all moms used any kid immediately at hand - their own or someone else’s - as a source of cheap labor.

So... “calling out” may have evolved as a survival tactic. The less contact with moms, any moms, the less work you would be corralled into doing.

Today, calling out is probably an unnecessary talent. Just about any kid can simply hang out at the end of a driveway and text his or her buddy. There’s no need for developing the vocal cords or... wait for it... vocal chords!

I suppose a lot of important skills learned when I was a kid aren’t much in demand anymore.

Too bad, I guess.