One of the best games of my youth, Hopscotch, involved just rocks and a piece of chalk. The first time I ever played the game, I scoured the neighborhood for the best rock to use. Nobody had told me the first time that I played that it was important to have a flat rock. I showed up with a piece of gravel. Well, hell, I didn’t know. Most kids nowadays have it easy. A lot of playgrounds have the hopscotch board painted on the surface. Children use little bean bags or coins for the markers.
Well, when I was young (I’ve always wanted to say that), we didn’t use chalk half of the time. We used the edge of a sandstone rock to draw our pattern. We would then use a flat rock as a marker. To be honest, we never thought about using coins. It just never crossed our minds.We were tickled half to death if someone just happened to have a piece of chalk with them. Chalk was a luxury. I would have stolen a piece of chalk from school, but the nuns would have hammered my knuckles with a ruler and then let me know that chalk stealers always go to hell.
For those of you who have never played the game, Hopscotch is played on a flat surface, such as asphalt or a sidewalk. We used to play on my driveway. We had a great double driveway. You have to draw a pattern with a piece of chalk. There are many patterns to draw, and I think the one we used looked a little like this:
The object of the game is to win. How bout that? The rules are hard to explain, but I shall try my best. We will use my bff Ramaine as player1 and I will be player 2.
Ramaine would stand behind the starting line to toss her marker in square 1. She would then hop over square 1 and land with one foot in square 2 and one foot in square 3. She then continues hopping to the home square, which is like a safe place to stand and turn around, and then she would hop back again. Ramaine would pause in squares 2 and 3 to pick up the marker, hop in square 1, and then out. Then she continues by tossing the stone in square 2 and so on and so on. All hopping is done on one foot unless the hopscotch design is such that two squares are side-by-side. You must always hop over any square where a maker has been placed.
Tossing your rock into the first square was always quite easy, but I basically sucked after that. For example. if it was my turn to throw it in square #7, and it landed in #8, my turn would be over. And again, since I sucked at Hopscotch, I spent a lot of time sitting on the sidelines, looking at my rock.
So, while writing this post, I took a wrong turn and kept thinking about how much time I spent watching my friends play while I, Hopscotch loser, sat and waited for my next turn. I would most certainly toss my rock right on a line (which is a no-no),and once again, be sitting on the sidelines. So,I was wondering if this is what people sitting on a curb are waiting for.
Waiting their turn to play Hopscotch
Hopscotch losers at a Hopscotch parade of winners
Some mother brought these hopscotch losers cupcakes.
So, then I really got to think that perhaps, perhaps Hopscotch is actually a drinking game that somehow evolved into a children’s game over the years. So, I set out to do some research. What I found was startling.
Hopscotch was actually invented during Easter in Scotland in 1799. Drunk party-goers, bored with playing croquet, drew numbers on a tennis court surface and tossed rocks to see if they could land on the numbers. If they hit the numbers, they didn’t have to drink their scotch. If they missed, they had to take a drink, and hop like a rabbit, (you know, because it was Easter). Someone decided that there should be a border around the numbers, and Voila! Hopscotch was born.
Ok, so I lied. But, it could have happened that way.
All in all, Hopscotch was a great childhood game. I may not have been a great rock tosser, but I had fun, and isn’t that what really counts? I hope to play it again one day.
This time I will be drunk….and old. But young at heart.