Monday, March 28, 2011

When I was 12, "don't touch gravel" was considered an exciting game.

While reading over the weekend I came across this intriguing section:

"After school to-night I went out into Abbie Clark's garden with her and she taught me how to play 'mumble te peg.' It is fun, but rather dangerous. I am afraid Grandmother won't give me a knife to play with."

I looked up mumblety-peg and discovered that it is a game wherein two players stand across from each other with their feet apart, and take turns throwing pocket-knives into the ground, aiming to get as near to their own feet as possible. The person who gets the knife closest to his or her foot wins. You can also win by getting the knife IN your foot, but that is not desirable.

Variations on the game involve drinking while playing, which is obviously a terrible idea, and throwing the knife at the other person's foot rather than your own, which if combined with the alcohol variant seems likely to result in serious injury. Throw in trick tosses and we have a recipe for certain death.

The twelve-year-old girl who wrote the section above goes on to say, in the same paragraph: "Abbie Clark has beautiful pansies in her garden and gave me some roots." I gather from this that both players survived the game without incident, but it does leave me in some doubt as to how many children in the past couple hundred years reached adulthood with all ten toes.


Christi said...

DDD: omg that's horrifying...

... and also, strangely (morbidly?) intriguing.

Simon said...

My thoughts exactly. I gather it doesn't usually end in injury, but it seems to me the risk is awfully high for a schoolyard game. But then again, my schoolyard games were apparently really tame. Except for that one game, "mumblety organ transplant," but it was quite rare that I could get anyone to play that with me after the first time.