I wonder if anyone remembers the game of “slaps”. Or indeed, if anyone has encountered it at all. I’m sure mine wasn’t the only school in which boys – and it was only boys, girls being presumably too sensible – who played this game. But when I was about 11 or 12, and possibly even older, this game was all the rage. Let me explain.

Two boys would stand facing each other, their hands held out, palms joined as if in prayer. One boy is nominated the slapper, and the other – I suppose – the slappee. That is, one does the slapping, and the other gets slapped. The slapper then gets to slap the hands of the slappee as often as he likes, and as hard as he likes. However, if the slappee moves his hands away I n time, and the slapper misses, then roles change: the slappee becomes the slapper, and the boy who had been the slapper now has to take the slaps.

There are further complications. The slapper can make false moves, that is, make out he is going to slap, but keep his palms in contact with each other. And if the slappee moves his hands away while the slapper still has his palms together, then the slapper gets a “free slap” – that is, the slapper gets to slap the slappee’s hands, and this time, the slappee does not have the option of moving his hands away: he has to stand there and take it.

And so the game continued, indefinitely, free slaps and all, roles changing with every missed slap.

I’m not sure what the attraction was of this game, but we played it anyway, despite strict instructions from our teachers not to. And after the breaks, we would return to class, our hands red and raw with being slapped, but determined nonetheless to continue as soon as class finished.

Presumably, you are probably thinking, I am leading up to finding some sort of parallel with this game that will throw some light on some aspect of our lives. Sadly, no. I did think long and hard to find some way to metaphorise this – that is, to find something for which the game of slaps could serve as a metaphor – but I couldn’t really come across anything too convincing. The only reason I mention this game of slaps at all is because, reminiscing on the past (as one tends to do at New Year), memories of this long-forgotten game suddenly emerged out of nowhere and flooded my mind, and made me laugh quite immoderately.

So, a pointless post, I suppose. As pointless as the game itself. Possibly, as I slip into old age, there will be many more such pointless posts. Well, why not? It gets so tiresome trying to make points all the time.

So here’s to another new year, where, hopefully, I may try, at least, to mingle at least a few pointful posts with all the pointless. Happy New Year, everyone!

12 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jeff on January 2, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    We called it Flinch.


  2. Thank you for bringing back some strangely happy memories. We (meaning a British cathedral youth choir) used to play this on long coach journeys: and, despite there being some quite rugged teenage boys, it was always the same petite girl that won! Wherever you are now, Carol Chapelhow, I hope you are prospering. Happy New Year to everyone!


    • Well – bang goes my theory that girls were too sensible to play this! 🙂


      • At that age – in my humble experience, of course – girls are much superior in cunning; and therefore deliver their extremely sharp slaps accurately whilst smiling prettily and demurely. They have you totally in the, ahem, palm of their hand. Sadly (again, in my experience), this just makes them more attractive! Where “sensible” fits into this, I’m therefore not very sure!

  3. Posted by Jaime Robles on January 2, 2019 at 5:43 pm

    We played a version of the game in California, but I don’t recall that it had a name. There were no free slaps, for instance. And it was meant to test your reflexes, both physical and psychological. Could you outguess your opponent’s intent before he attacked? Now that I think of it, it reminds me of the more benign practice of “push hands” found in tai chi, another test of anticipating the other’s moves. I think my older brother started the slap hands contest, with me and my younger brother as slapees, or perhaps victims is the correct term, since we were 8 and 10 years younger. Happy New Year, y’all!


    • And a Happy New Year to you too!

      Yes, it is indeed a game to test your reflexes. But what intrigues me about the game is that it could go on indefinitely; that there is no winner or loser; and all you really got out of it was pain; and yet – we all wanted to play it! I am sure that is all a metaphor for something or other…

      Anyway, with my piece of whimsy done with at the very start of the year, I think I’d better get down to a few more serious posts now!


  4. Hmmm. I recall a more dangerous version involving a penknife. I avoided being drawn into that nonsense.


  5. Ha, we used to play this too, just with lil lax rules. And sure there were boys, but plenty o girls 🙂


  6. Posted by Charley on January 5, 2019 at 3:59 am

    When I was reading this I was initially thinking that this was the most moronic thing I’d ever heard of — I’ve no memory of this game at all. And then I remembered that as kids we would sometimes put sugar all over our lips and let wasps crawl over them! I’m actually embarrassed recalling this. I think it was to show how macho we were or something… although in reality it makes us seem more like the guys in ‘Dumb and Dumber’.


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