“We used to play this game in middle school called “Zap.” You wrote a name on someone’s palm and a time on the top of their hand. If they look at their palm before the time on their hand, they have to ask the person named out. Obviously, the names would be of people of the opposite sex. One time, I lost “Zap” and I had to ask out this boy who I actually hated with a passion. That’s probably why my friend wrote his name. Anyway, no one took it seriously because we did it all the time, so people knew it was usually a joke when classmates asked them out.”
Context: The informant went to school in St. Helena, California, twenty minutes from Napa. She is female, and grew up in a small, close-knit community.
Interpretation: This can be viewed as an introduction to the courtship process with less pressure than truly trying to ask someone on a date. It is interesting that both genders engage in “Zap,” as Western ideals would usually impose this burden on men for the most part. It is a lighthearted way of familiarizing children with the pressures and uncertainties of finding a romantic partner while also shielding them from the consequences of earnest romantic rejection.