Manhole Cover Word Game
May 27, 2014 11:07 AM   Subscribe

In the Swedish movie "F***ing Åmål" (aka "Show Ne Love"), two teen sisters play a game in which, if you're caught stepping on a manhole cover, you have to recite words starting with the letter on the cover. Is this a common Swedish game? Is there a name for it? Could it be some sort of challenge? Like, the more words you can name, the smarter you are?
posted by RichardS to Society & Culture (3 answers total)
Swedish manhole covers have letters on them identifying what's in there, and games based on some interpretation of what the letter means are common (collect them all or avoid them all, collect three or a hundred K:s for kärlek/love to make your special one fall in love with you, don't ever step on an A for avsky/hate or avbruten kärlek/interrupted love, etc). I think most of the actual games tend to be fairly local, though.

A quick Googling revealed that The Swedish Institute for Language and Folklore is currently collecting stories about this, but they haven't published anything yet what I can see. Maybe check back in 6 months or so :)
posted by effbot at 11:42 AM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Funny question! No that's not how it works. Stepping on a manhole with the letter A means bad luck, and by some accounts the misfortunes will be Alcoholism, Anal sex, Acne, Anorexia, plus a few other things that begin with an A in Swedish but not English. The girl in the movie is just listing everything bad that awaits her sister unless she steps off that manhole right away. Where I grew up, A-manholes were avoided but there were no specifics about what would happen.
posted by Herr Zebrurka at 10:37 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

And now that you bring it up, I realize that I still haven't completely shaken off the reflex to avoid the A:s! I rarely make an effort not to step on them, but if I'm undistracted and looking where I walk, I remain aware of their presence. I'm 35 years old.
posted by Herr Zebrurka at 10:50 PM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

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