Game – Barrington, Rhode Island

“There was a game we used to play during lunch at school where you would, uh, hold an apple by its stem. Then you would twist the apple, and with each twist you would say like ‘A, B, C…’ and so on. Whatever letter you said with the stem broke off represented the first initial of a boy. Then you would take the stem and start to poke and stab your apple with it, while saying ‘A, B, C…’ again. Whatever letter you said when the stem broke the skin of the apple stood for the second initial of a boy’s name. The two initials together were those of the boy you were going to marry.”

Catherine told me she would play this game in elementary school probably first learning it when she was about 8 years old in Barrington. She described that this game was always played with girls during lunch and they would giggle and laugh and try to guess what boy in school had the initials that you would get. If they could think of a boy with those initials then they would tease and say, “you’re gonna marry _____!” This could be embarrassing if you did happen to have a crush on that boy or if he happened to be a boy who was very annoying and you could not stand. Either way, it was all light-hearted fun that girls could joke about.

Catherine felt that this game was children’s way of making fun of the institution of marriage. It allowed her and her friends, who had little responsibility at a young age, to control their future with regards to a very serious and mature commitment such as marriage. She believed that it was their attempts to try and grasp adult notions of relationships but by making it a fun and amusing game to laugh about. Because this game was so silly, Catherine believes that it was a way to undermine the almost somberness that can come with a serious relationship and to liven it up with spontaneity in determining your future.

I noticed the symbolic significance of the apple in this game of future mates. Apples are associated with Eve and the Fall into Original Sin, implying temptation and lust for the mate that your apple would decide for you. Furthermore, it stresses the importance for girls to bear children, or the fruit of their loins so to speak. To do so, she would need a suitable mate with which to procreate. This game touches on issues of sexuality and female maturity, creating a situation where young girls can pretend to involved in adult issues but not actually have to deal with the responsibilities that come with marriage or motherhood.