When did boys start pretending the floor is made of lava?
February 4, 2008 8:56 AM   Subscribe

I am 34 and grew up in Texas. I just heard a coworker ten years my junior say "Well, boys liked to pretend that the floor is made of lava." I totally knew what he was talking about. How old is this meme? How widespread is it?

Google gives me lots of stuff about a band named that, and an album named that. I don't need to know about either of those things.
posted by 23skidoo to Grab Bag (107 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
No idea, but I'm in my mid-twenties and remember playing that as a game when I was a kid by trying to make my way across the room by walking on whatever was left on the floor -- pillows, books, etc.
posted by mikeh at 8:58 AM on February 4, 2008

I am 34 and grew up in Ontario. I still do it. It's just... obvious.
posted by GuyZero at 8:58 AM on February 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

I played this game back in the mid 80s.

Also, I don't think "meme" is really what you mean here... it's just a child's game.
posted by modernnomad at 8:59 AM on February 4, 2008

Wahhh. Chicagoland chick has never heard of this. Quick explanation? :)
posted by iguanapolitico at 9:01 AM on February 4, 2008

I remember this game and I'm around your age but grew up in NJ.
posted by cabingirl at 9:02 AM on February 4, 2008

29, grew up in ontario, totally played this game. Except sometimes the floor was spikes.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:03 AM on February 4, 2008

Also, the floor is the ocean and there are sharks in it.
posted by poppo at 9:03 AM on February 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

oh also, i grew up in the UK.
posted by modernnomad at 9:04 AM on February 4, 2008

My brother and I (now age 26, Winnipeg, Canada) used to do this all the time, sometimes with my sister added as the "lava monster". Why lava? In our case, I think it was from a combination of action movies and NES games, both of which used "the floor is made of lava" literally during various platform-to-platform jumping parts.
posted by pocams at 9:05 AM on February 4, 2008

Somewhere, there's an Ozy and Millie comic in which Millie is trying to get out of doing chores by claiming the floor is [dangerous substance] and she will die if she touches it.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:05 AM on February 4, 2008

I don't think this is a meme. I think this is something kids just do. I did it, and I don't remember being introduced to it by anybody.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:07 AM on February 4, 2008

Girl here. I used to pretend the floor in my house was made of lava or water or toxic swamp water, and I would get from place to place by jumping on pillows and sofa cushions and rugs. And my brother, if he was available.
posted by iconomy at 9:07 AM on February 4, 2008

Maybe its just one of those things that is an easy enough idea to come to given our culture. Maybe its no meme at all, but just something that children invent over and over again.
posted by ian1977 at 9:08 AM on February 4, 2008

37 years old. Didn't have siblings near my age at all. I played 'the floor is lava' all by my lonesome all the time when I was a kid. I don't think it's a meme so much as just something kids come up with when they're climbing all over furniture.
posted by ursus_comiter at 9:09 AM on February 4, 2008

We played this (and other variations on "can't touch the ground games") in the 80s in Minnesota. It's more fun on a jungle gym because you don't have to worry about breaking stuff, but definitely more challenging and funny in a house.
posted by vytae at 9:10 AM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Played this game in London 45 years ago. I suspect it's as old as, well, furniture, probably.
posted by londongeezer at 9:10 AM on February 4, 2008

German, 28, female: I and my brother also used to play this, but the floor would usually be "acid" instead of lava, if I remember correctly.
posted by The Toad at 9:12 AM on February 4, 2008

In San Francisco in the late 60s-early 70s, we girls played this only with quicksand instead of lava. I have very clear memories of getting a stern talking-to for climbing on the grand piano at my friend's house while playing this - how humiliating!
posted by chez shoes at 9:12 AM on February 4, 2008

There is a Roald Dahl story (whose name I forget at the moment) that is centered around a little boy imagining the same thing.
posted by Lucinda at 9:12 AM on February 4, 2008

Maryland, 31. My two brothers and I did it. Threw the couch cushions on the floor, jumped from cushion to couch to chairs etc.
posted by electroboy at 9:14 AM on February 4, 2008

45 from Texas. Definitely played this. The shark variation allowed me to become a shark and threaten my little brother. Once I got tired of lurking offshore and lunged onto the ottoman to attack -- this was several years before Chevy Chase's "land shark" -- and knocked him onto a bookshelf brace, cutting his ass open badly enough that we had to take him to the hospital. THE RULES ARE THERE FOR A REASON.

I don't know whether it qualifies as a meme, but it does seem to propagate without being transmitted kid to kid. My guess is that it's a testament to children's imaginative abilities. We need to play in this room: What do we have to work with? The floor. Okay, we'll play with the floor.

There's a great Roald Dahl short story about a little boy playing this game with the carpet in the hallway. If I remember rightly, the red and black portions of the carpet were fire and snakes, respectively, and only the yellow bits afforded safe passage.

If you've read Roald Dahl, you can probably guess how well this ends.
posted by viscountslim at 9:15 AM on February 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

30, Alberta, As far back as I can remember I've played it. Still play it.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:15 AM on February 4, 2008

35, grew up in Ohio, played it as either lava or alligator pit.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 9:18 AM on February 4, 2008

I think lava specifically comes from video games.

When I was a kid -- before widespread video games -- it was shark infested custard, or a huge drop, or something similar.
posted by unSane at 9:18 AM on February 4, 2008

On topic: Oh my yes did we did this (Boston, early-mid '80s). My daughter does it now (but mostly on patterned linoleum floors at the supermarket or mall).

Off topic: Why is it not a meme? This is about the meme-iest thing I can imagine. An idea or concept that spreads throughout a culture with no formal transmission taking place, right?
posted by Rock Steady at 9:20 AM on February 4, 2008

It's well known enough to show up in episodes of Simpsons and Family Guy as well.

Links go to Wikipedia pages of the relevant episodes, but contain no lava content, unlike a volcano, which often does.
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:23 AM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

32 year old female from New England. Pretended the floor was an ocean or lava and couldn't be touched at any cost. Particularly fun at my friends house as she had bunk beds and we would move the slats supporting the top mattress so we could either push the mattress down from the top or bottom to "escape".
posted by Constant Reader at 9:26 AM on February 4, 2008

Yes, it's clearly a meme. I'm not sure what the objectors think the word means, but it's very appropriate here. Dawkins calls a meme "a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation."

Arizona kids in the 80s dutifully helped to spread this one, though I'm not going to credit our imagination too much, because it's almost literally true when it's hot enough outside to melt the asphalt.
posted by hutta at 9:27 AM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

35, FL. Played and lost many times. I have the scars to prove it.
posted by studentbaker at 9:27 AM on February 4, 2008

Oh yeah. We played this in the '80s in Kansas, too, and I 'spect it's been around far longer.

I'm willing to admit that I was the dumb kid who didn't get the game at first and informed everyone that we were standing on perfectly cold linoleum.
posted by katillathehun at 9:30 AM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Female, 37, played it in Virginia with my older sister, play it now with my kids. The exact phrase, of course, is "Don't let your feet touch the burning-hot lava!"
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:31 AM on February 4, 2008

hutta: I say its not a meme cuz kids make it up, independently of any meme-transmission between meme holders and meme recipients. Not to say that some people don't learn it as a meme, I just think it is constantly being re'discovered' by millions of kids every year.
posted by ian1977 at 9:32 AM on February 4, 2008

hutta: Yes, it's clearly a meme. I'm not sure what the objectors think the word means, but it's very appropriate here. Dawkins calls a meme "a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation."

I object to the use of the word because I don't think it's spread by imitation or cultural transmission. viscountslim says "it does seem to propagate without being transmitted kid to kid;" if so, it's not a meme.

I say this because I did this as a kid, and I don't remember anybody else telling me they did, or telling anybody else that I did. It's just something I did in my own head. kittens for breakfast seems to be the same way.
posted by koeselitz at 9:33 AM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm female, 34, from Northern California, and we played this game as well. About a year ago I bought this on a Tshirt, and every time I wear it I get at least one nod of recognition ("Hey! We did that when we were kids, too!").
posted by routergirl at 9:35 AM on February 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

37, grew up on northeast tennessee. played constantly.
posted by patricking at 9:38 AM on February 4, 2008

I'm 28 and was born in England, and yeah, I did that too.
posted by chunking express at 9:38 AM on February 4, 2008

Female, and I played this all the time. Sometimes, I would have different types of hazards in the same room, though, like a water trap, a cliff, quicksand, whatever. Maybe your coworker never bothered to actually ask any females if they played this game, too.
posted by Coatlicue at 9:39 AM on February 4, 2008

In DC in 1978 this was called "Don't touch the ground". No reason (ie no lava, spikes, sharks...) just definitely don't touch it.
posted by InstantSanitizer at 9:41 AM on February 4, 2008

Victoria, British Columbia here, in the early 80s, I can tell you for sure, lava floors were deadly prevalent all over my neighbourhood.
Indiana Jones related? Can anyone remember his prior to the mid 70's?
The OP's name is kinda actually fitting for this question, as 23 skidoo was a mysteriously popular pphrase in the early 20th century, yet its etymological origins are shady.
posted by cascando at 9:43 AM on February 4, 2008

I'd be more surprised at the kids who didn't do this. Grew up in a tiny (< 10,000) Wyoming town in the 80s and we definitely did this, both inside and out (on raised playground equipment).
posted by Nelsormensch at 9:44 AM on February 4, 2008

Girls like the game too.

Played it in the living room, played it on the playground, in the jungle gym and in the front lawn/fence of my best friend's house.
posted by zia at 9:45 AM on February 4, 2008

FWIW, when me and my brother played this, we said the floor was "acid-lava". That's right -- the searing heat of lava plus the flesh-dissolving delight of sulphuric acid. Oh, yes.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:49 AM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

It was probably first played by children who had to avoid stepping in actual lava while also avoiding saber-toothed tigers and pterodactyls.
posted by booth at 9:51 AM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

20, grew up in New Mexico, we did this too! I remember one of my friends lived out on a farm, and the plowed fields had these big trenches that we said were filled with lava, and we'd try jumping across them.

We had a similar game at the jungle gym where we played tag. The floor was not explicitly lava, but touching it would make you "It" automatically.
posted by pravit at 9:52 AM on February 4, 2008

It is also in a Simpson's episode where Bart and Lisa kill time in a hotel room playing it. Though there I believe they called it simply "death".
posted by beautifulcheese at 9:56 AM on February 4, 2008

Girl, Australian, 31: did this too, not just lava but piranhas, crocs, quicksand - anything that meant we had to stay on the furniture.
posted by goo at 9:56 AM on February 4, 2008

19, female, definitely played it, almost certainly thought of it myself. Possibly mimmicking Indiana Jones and Ducktales, which were both huge for me as a kid.
posted by lizzicide at 9:57 AM on February 4, 2008

We played "don't touch the woodchips" on the playground as a variation of tag - someone would be running around trying to tag the people on the equipment (without climbing up) and the taggees would be running and jumping, and probably, shrieking, since we were eight.

(Chicago, 80s)
posted by restless_nomad at 9:58 AM on February 4, 2008

The game also called "Hot Lava" has it's own wikipedia page!
posted by yeti at 9:59 AM on February 4, 2008

Northern Illinois, 35; we did the same. Outdoors, the sidewalk bacame water and one person was a shark. You had to jump back and forth across the water onto the grass.
posted by Eddie Mars at 9:59 AM on February 4, 2008

For us it was alligators. (This was in the 1950's.)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:59 AM on February 4, 2008

kids make it up

That doesn't qualify it as 'not a meme' - they don't make it up in a vacuum, they make it up within a cultural context. To play 'floor is made of lava' a child would need to know what lava is and that it is dangerous to the touch. That's not material you learn empirically unless you live near a volcano.

It's definitely a meme, and it's the kind of thing children's folklorists study.

But it definitely has many expressions and might arise even outside a social context. It's a basic 'danger, don't touch' game where the danger can be anything - sharks, icy water, acid, lava, a gaping abyss, gators, etc - as we've seen in the thread. As with many children's games, people who study this sort of stuff often theorize that they are a way of mastering the idea of danger and self-protection.

We used to play 'rocks and roots' at a environmental program I worked in. You would walk along the trail, and you'd be safe if you stepped only on rocks and roots, but you would dissolve in an acid pit and 'die' if you stepped on regular dirt.
posted by Miko at 10:05 AM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Is the OP talking about the child's game, or something else, perhaps?
posted by entropic at 10:10 AM on February 4, 2008

All of our children have spontaneously come up with the lava, poison, water, water-with-sharks and water-with-sharks-and-lava variations on this theme. It's a hoot.

"Don't stand there. It's hot lava."
"But...aren't you on the rug, too?"
"No. This is a rock."

And so on.
posted by jquinby at 10:12 AM on February 4, 2008

Lava also exisited in our family living room in West-Central Illinois for me, my younger brother, and sister -- early to mid 80s. We have no idea where this game came from.

When it came up in the Family Guy episode, my bf, who grew up around the same time in Arizona, said he also played it. Also had no idea of it's origins.

(PS Thanks for this question though -- truly "best of the web.")
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:16 AM on February 4, 2008

We played a version of this where only the black squares on a patterned tile floor were made of lava, as well as the traditional version.
posted by fermezporte at 10:17 AM on February 4, 2008

27, New Jersey, female. Totally played this game hardcore. Funnest when teacher was making photocopies.
posted by spec80 at 10:19 AM on February 4, 2008

I don't even remember if the floor was supposed to be made of anything, I just remember this occasional compulsion not to step on it. Also I was the kid who walked only on the dark floor tiles at the mall.
posted by chrominance at 10:23 AM on February 4, 2008

NortonDC has the same cartoon as routergirl linked on his messenger bag. Yay toothpastefor dinner and lava!
posted by onlyconnect at 10:29 AM on February 4, 2008

I played this too growing up in Holland (unsurprisingly, the danger was water, not lava.)

But is this a meme?
It resembles the birds and milk bottle situation: all through Britain birds (tits) discovered how to peck open a new type of milk bottle cap very soon after it was introduced, without having been near enough to each other to have been able to copy it. So is THAT a meme? Critics disagree.
posted by easternblot at 10:36 AM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Wasn't the question "When did this meme start" and not "is this a meme or a kid's game"? Next we're gonna start arguing about dragon boobs.
posted by katillathehun at 10:38 AM on February 4, 2008

There's an episode of the Venture Brothers where a shot of Jonas Venture, working hard to decipher alien radio transmissions, pans back to reveal his son, Rusty, hopping around on the carpet. Rusty says, "...but you can't touch the RED ones, because they're LAVA!"

21, from Kentucky, definitely played this. It was always lava for me.
posted by 235w103 at 10:39 AM on February 4, 2008

Toothpaste for dinner had a comic about this. For a while, you could buy it on a t-shirt. He also made some paintings along this theme.
posted by PercussivePaul at 10:40 AM on February 4, 2008

correct link
posted by PercussivePaul at 10:41 AM on February 4, 2008

32, woman, from New Zealand and I played it as well.
posted by gaspode at 10:44 AM on February 4, 2008

(I should have mentioned about the toothpastefordinner comic that it is at least a few years old and so this meme has been on the internet. (In the link PercussivePaul provides, the date of the comic is 10/02.) So the internet meme is at least that long, though the childhood game is much older.)
posted by onlyconnect at 10:50 AM on February 4, 2008

has been on the internet that long (i.e., apparently 5 years). More coffee now.
posted by onlyconnect at 10:51 AM on February 4, 2008

34, grew up in FL and NYC. Played it as a kid. In NYC, it was broken glass, in FL it was alligators.
I still play, so present day: it's either lava or cat poop, but it's not always a game.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 11:04 AM on February 4, 2008

There is a chapter in one of the Pippi Longstocking books where she suggests that the children play "Don't Touch the Floor." There's no reference to lava / sharks / etc. but the game itself is the same. So it extends at least to Sweden in the 1940's.
posted by fuzzbean at 11:05 AM on February 4, 2008

32, Denmark. We played "The earth is poisonous."
posted by AwkwardPause at 11:08 AM on February 4, 2008

Damn you, fuzzbean, I was just coming to post about that - I learned about the game from this movie version of Pippi I watched in the 80s.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 11:12 AM on February 4, 2008

28, Washington DC. Played with my brothers in Berkeley growing up.
posted by parmanparman at 11:29 AM on February 4, 2008

Wow, at last something that explains why people join Scientology! We all believe we have to avoid the lava!
posted by misha at 11:30 AM on February 4, 2008

I totally did this as a kid. It was lava or alligators. My daughter (30 months) just started doing this, only it's water.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 11:32 AM on February 4, 2008

34, girl, Maryland. Totally played this. (70s shag carpets added to the effect quite nicely.)
posted by desuetude at 11:35 AM on February 4, 2008

Nobody taught us this game. I don't think it was about 'lava' or anything like that. It was about a novel, challenging way to get across the room and to compete with each other. You touch the floor, you lose. We didn't play this much, though. We'd go down to the crick to jump from rock to rock instead. I still love to do that.

If this is a meme, so is climbing trees.

However, it's possible that Hollywood and video games have something to do with the idea that people consistently come up with the 'explanation' that the floor/ground is dangerous in some way, rather than simply being out of bounds.
posted by zennie at 11:37 AM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

31, Vancouver, Canada. There be quicksand here.
posted by juv3nal at 11:58 AM on February 4, 2008

23 here, and my sister and I used to do this too (lava and shark-infested waters). I just asked my late 30's housemate and she said she did the same thing. Her theory has to do with movies in the 60's about cavemen (?).
posted by spiderskull at 12:22 PM on February 4, 2008

31 - played in Chicago all the time. We also developed an interesting variant called "super gravity" wherein things that touched the floor became immovable. If you fell off the couch, you were stuck for the rest of the afternoon.
posted by aladfar at 12:29 PM on February 4, 2008

54, male, Georgia--We did lava mostly, but also sharks.
posted by ancientgower at 12:31 PM on February 4, 2008

36. I played that the ground or floor was electrified, or wired to some kind of sensors, or it was a minefield, and the goal was to sneak into or out of some secure facility. Most of my childhood games had some kind of secret-agent spying/sneaking-around angle.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 12:39 PM on February 4, 2008

25, Belgium. Our floors had lava, with piranhas!
posted by lodev at 12:40 PM on February 4, 2008

52, Nevada, yup.
posted by bricoleur at 12:51 PM on February 4, 2008

23, Southern U.S., my sister and I used to play something called alligator pit, which did involve jumping between objects, although the goal was not to get caught by the person playing the alligator, rather than just not touching the floor. Kinda similar though.
posted by naoko at 12:54 PM on February 4, 2008

28, Alaska. We called it Hot-Lava Monster. Sometimes one of us was the monster, sometimes it was a huge, many-headed semi-sphere composed of all of our stuffed animals lashed together with jump ropes and twine).
posted by otolith at 1:00 PM on February 4, 2008

26, male, Southern US. No siblings so was introduced to the game by and played with my Sicilian grandfather. He worked for the recreation department. Don't know whether he picked it up from the kids there or if he possibly remembered it from his own childhood.

This game actually spread out to a lot of different things, come to think of it. Not walking on shadows, avoiding pavement in favor of grass. His windshield (Chevy Nova, I think '67) had a small dot on it that I used to think looked like a buffalo or a flea, and when he drove me around I would lock on to that spot, close one eye, and open and close one hand depending on whether or not the spot was over the sunlit parts of the road. To maximise sunlit closed-hand time I would bob my head up and down, shortening the gaps, making the "flea" "jump". I never told him what I was doing over on the other side of that bench seat; he also never asked. He probably knew kids too well to expect them to have sensible explanations.
posted by penduluum at 1:08 PM on February 4, 2008

22, Australian male. I lost my youngest brother to the sharks in our lounge room.
posted by twirlypen at 1:31 PM on February 4, 2008

All you lava people were very disturbed little children indeed.

The floor was clearly the ocean, and it was filled with sharks. Great white sharks. (38, female, grew up Wyoming and Colorado.)
posted by scody at 2:01 PM on February 4, 2008

~ 1959: TV Serial showed the Rocket Man being warned to sneak into the bad guy's lair by stepping on the dark tiles only, and not touching the hand rails or walls--advice I follow to this day when sneaking into lairs.
posted by gregoreo at 2:32 PM on February 4, 2008

As someone mentioned up above, Roald Dahl did write a story about this. It's called "The Wish". It was first published in book form in 1953, so the idea definitely extends back more than fifty years...
posted by web-goddess at 2:48 PM on February 4, 2008

30, grew up in S. California, lava
posted by pmbuko at 3:02 PM on February 4, 2008

UK (south Wales), 39, lava.
posted by misteraitch at 3:10 PM on February 4, 2008

My sister and I (female) loved playing lava! Me = 26, Her = 22 and we both grew up in Michigan.

Safe "rocks" were pillows, articles of clothing or other things that were already on the floor. We could throw one another additional rocks, if we were feeling nice.

We also never stepped on the black or dark tiles in the grocery store or mall because of, you know, certain death and all.
posted by click at 3:14 PM on February 4, 2008

My boys, 5 and 8, have been playing this for several years (boston / north shore). No idea how it got started; their mother and I didn't teach them, so I'm assuming it's their friends.
posted by jenkinsEar at 3:36 PM on February 4, 2008

In Ontario, my sister and I would cover the floor with a camping tarp sometimes, for extra effect. If you touched it the monsters got you.
posted by piper4 at 3:52 PM on February 4, 2008

37, grew up in the UK and Australia. Played this with both English and Aussie friends growing up. Also, floor being ocean with sharks, or river with crocodiles.

My 2 daughters (4 and 2) play crocodiles, and we've never taught them that. Perhaps it's just naturally emergent?

I've often wondered (in a misty-eyed sort of way) about childhood meme transmission; playground songs, play methods, and all of that.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 4:03 PM on February 4, 2008

38, grew up in Milwaukee. Never heard of this.

I was beginning to think I'd just forgotten something from my childhood, so I called both my brother and my mom. They'd never heard of it either. (Maybe our house was a cultural vacuum where lava-based games were concerned.) I'm beginning to feel a little left out.

On the plus side, I finally am beginning to understand that Toothpaste for Dinner shirt.
posted by aine42 at 4:28 PM on February 4, 2008

I grew up in a volcano and used to pretend the bubbling pools of molten rock were swatches of Kelly green deep pile carpeting with 1/8" underpad.
posted by CynicalKnight at 4:30 PM on February 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

I'm 34 and I certainly remember the floor-is-lava game. My sister and I played all the time. I clearly remember a tremendous amount of internal angst because I couldn't reconcile why the sofa was impervious to the molten lava that destroyed everything it touched.

I sill play this game every now and then. Of course I almost never scream in blinding, searing, horrible pain when I accidentally touch one of the wrong tiles walking back to my desk at the office. Almost never.
posted by GatorDavid at 4:52 PM on February 4, 2008

My cousin and I played a fun variation of this. We called it "Sacrifice." We would be in a bedroom, sitting on the bed, with all of our stuffed animals around us. The bed was a rock/mountain/whatever that reached above the lava, so we were safe... except that there was an evil lava demon that threatened to kill us unless we started sacrificing the stuffed animals. So we did... one by one... until there were none left. Then I forget what happens.

(We had totally happy childhoods, by the way.)
posted by christie at 5:37 PM on February 4, 2008

22, grew up in India. Remember playing this as well.
posted by peacheater at 8:23 PM on February 4, 2008

I'm pretty sure this goes all the way back to baby monkeys in trees. The ground is dangerous!
(I'm a 29-year-old Texas girl who played the lava with my sister. Our sectional couch and rust-colored carpet was ideal. Sometimes my sister was the "lava fairy" and could carry me across on piggyback.)
posted by lunalaguna at 9:54 PM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

29, Norcal, sharks.

Although, now I live in South Africa. And, thanks to you, the blue parts of the conference room floor here are now infested with great whites, and I'm fucked unless I can get lunch delivered or jump maybe 8 feet from the doorway into the hall.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:41 AM on February 5, 2008

My brothers and I used to play this in Australia in the 70s, 80s and 90s (big family!). My dad says he used to play it in England in the 1940s, and he was surprised that we played it because he didn't teach it to us. My cat also seems to be playing it, but it could just mean my cat is mental.
posted by indienial at 3:34 AM on February 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

33, IN & TX, lava.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 5:52 AM on February 5, 2008

36 - Canadian (all over) - Definately some combination of lava, water/w/sharks, electrified/mined carpet were all played by my sisters and I.

And - as others have noted, I see this emergent in my son (5) who leaps from one furniture item to another. My daughter (9) never did that by herself, but now does with him as well.

(of course, perhaps we shouldn't have taken out the carpet under the dining room table - it slides on the wood whenever they land, one of these days someone is going to land poorly and then a trip to emerg... ;-) )
posted by jkaczor at 9:39 AM on February 5, 2008

It could even be something instinctive, seeing as so many kids play the game without being shown how.

I seem to remember something about the floor being made of dinosaurs or any other kind of monster or dangerous creature.
posted by Eastgate at 1:51 AM on October 6, 2008

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