The Art of the “No Backsies”

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Urban Dictionary credits the terms “no backsies” as a maneuver during the game “Tag” where someone can not be immediately made “it” following the tag of another player.

However, I believe that the term is more widely used as a means of saying “what was once my problem is now your problem, sucker!”  Or, “this is final!”

Now, I’m not surprised that, in elementary school, “no backsies” worked.  We believed in “cootie shots.”   Everyone knew that Hydrox were NOT the same as Oreos.  Cafeteria hotdogs were for playing with during recess rather than eating during lunch.   The world in elementary school was much simpler, with many common, widely accepted truths.

Unfortunately, Middle School came all too soon, and your beloved certainties, such as, “no cuts, not buts, no coconuts” (all you line cutters know what I’m talking about) didn’t’ seem to carry they weight they once did.  Girls no longer had cooties; they had boobs.  Boys weren’t gross; they were cute and wore Jnco Jeans and stole the family Hanukkah candles to use as grinding wax on curbs (or maybe that was just a local Long Island thing).

By high school, truths were more like ideals than facts.  Calling “shotgun” meant that you could sit in the front seat unless someone better looking came along, someone better liked came along, or, like me, you were a younger sibling.  A “no backsies” comment would be rebuffed with a “oh, I didn’t know we had time-traveled back to 1993” zinger.

But I beg the question: just because a term goes out of use, does the meaning go out of use as well?  Can a term lose its validity because it’s too colloquial?  Or is it possible that we’ve unnecessarily been adhering to “no backsies?”  Even worse, I believe, is the presumption that “no backsies” is a fully enforceable code of conduct, but there are just those out there who believe they’re above this commonly accepted convention.

“I’m Retiring”

Famous last words, right:


Brett Farve

Michael Jordan

Ozzy Osbourne

50 Cent

Roger Clemens

Garth Brooks

Lance Armstrong

George Foreman

Now, I’m not going to dare call any of the gents listed above liars (and not because I think they could physically destroy me.  I know that…).  But the issue surrounding the aforementioned “retirements” is simply that there was a big commotion made about them.

For large corporations, when you’ve dedicated yourself for years, you get a “gold” watch, a Carvel ice cream cake (name usually spelled correctly), and a toast made with sparkling wine out of Dixie cups.  You were lucky if someone from the mailroom knew you were leaving, and you were really lucky if someone from accounting didn’t know you were headed out.

But with those listed above, their departure from whatever profession it was that made them famous always had a big hoopla surrounding it.  A press conference, a press release, an interview, a magazine cover, and spot on Larry King, a party at whatever the swanky hot-spot was at the time, and a vow (of sorts) that while they have love and respect for what they did and those who still do it, they won’t be venturing back any time soon.

And then, of course, they do.

There’s this “no backsies” attitude that then gets the media all riled up.  As though returning to what they love is some sort of social perjury.  We jump to assume that there’s a monetary motive, or bad blood.  We look to scandalize.

What I want to know is, who cares, and who does this affect?

The fans?  They should be ecstatic.  (Except in the case of Brett Favre.  The Packers for the Jets?  Come the —- on, Brett.)

The foes?  They should be happy to be back in the ring with someone they obviously felt was a worthy contender to begin with.  If they’re not, then it’s a sign of weakness on their part, and I have no sympathy for the scared/petty

“It’s Not Me, It’s You”

Break ups are often the best example of when “no backsies” get thrown out the window.

A relationship peters on, and finally, whether there’s an actual reason, or the person your dating accidentally disconnects your Xbox before you got to save your status on Ninja Gaiden II, words are exchanged.

“I just don’t see this going anywhere”

“I swear, it’s not because I’m seeing someone else”

“I just can’t be in a relationship right now”

“It has nothing to do with your weight gain”

“Did you really think this was going to work anyway?”

Whatever painfully stupid thing you say to the other person, when you wake up after a break up (or out of a booze coma you put yourself in after a break up), there’s always regret.

And it used to manifest itself in a voicemail that went something like, “Baby, I’m so sorry.  I know we both said things we didn’t mean.  Can we just talk?  Please?  I still care about you.”

Now, with texting, it is more of a, “U R my <3  Plz 4giv me??”

So there you are, having coffee, sharing some crumb cake and deciding that, despite your significant other calling you a “meddling, spiteful jackass,” you can get back together (simply to have level two of the previous argument at a later date and time,  TBD).

(ed. disclosure:  I’ve probably gotten back together with someone that’s called me a bitch almost as many times as I’ve been called a bitch—and that’s A LOT—so I’m writing this from
a low pony, not a high horse…)

Point being, we go backsies in relationships so much, that allowing a break up to happen without some sort of fight means that there probably wasn’t much of a “relationship” to begin with.

“A Clean Bill of Health”

I’ll keep this brief, but, unlike cooties, most diseases are (repeatedly) transferable and calling “no backsies” isn’t going to save you from re-catching whatever ailment you gave, then got back from, Person X.

(ed. disclosure: Though it’s never been anything that a Z-Pak and some chicken soup couldn’t cure, I’ve probably gotten myself sick more times than someone else has freshly gotten me sick.  But then again, I’ve got the immune system of a used-and-abused lab mouse, so…)

Call “no backsies” all you want, but science has control over this and your words mean diddly.

“The Dating Game”

Two men enter, one man leaves.  With the physically attractive date, that is.  The other is left behind with the woman who has a good job, strong morals, and a great personality.  At least that’s how blind double-dating usually goes (but check with Dave and Ethan to be sure; they’re the experts).

But what about group dates where it’s a bit of a free-for-all?  Or a backyard BBQ where the only rules abided by are that you have to BYOB (and it can’t be Natty Ice)?  Is it fair to pull someone “off the market,” realize they suck, and retract on your own, “(s)he’s mine; no backies” in favor of hitting on your friend’s newest conquest?

All’s fair in love and war, right?  Wrong.  Nothing’s fair, that’s why anything goes.


Anyhow, I think we’re at a point were we can determine that “no backsies” is a merely a ruse of the youth, that, as we get older, we wise up to.  Like cootie shots and the Pen15 Club, “no backsies” is the result of an overactive imagination and a willingness to believe our words have meaning or consequence.



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