I was 14 when I first heard the remix of the song “Itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny, yellow polka dot bikini” on MTV. The lyrics were simple, but it didn’t matter; the refrain was so catchy you couldn’t help sing along.
It was the summer vacation and we used to play table tennis at The Club. There were two tables: A ‘Stag’ for the more experienced players, and a generic, rickety one stored in a 11’X11′ room for the amateurs. Only four could play on the superior table, and the other was reserved for the hordes of bored teenagers who didn’t have enough skills for the better one.
The only way to give everybody a chance on the bad table was to play ‘Americans’. The way it worked was everyone to go round and round the table, hitting the ball back and forth until one missed it and was ejected from the circle. There were cabals and conspiracies to eject certain players, but that’s a whole different story.
Now imagine 30 hormone-filled boys going around a table that barely left any space in a dingy room on a hot April day, chanting “Iiiiit waaaas aaaan itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny yellow polka-dot bikini”; it was religious. The Masai tribe might have had its initiation for boy-men around a fire with ashes and embers flying about, but this was our own initiation; to boldly shout a taboo word instead of a war-cry, and waving our cheap TT bats instead of blood-tipped spears.