Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Word of the day: skelly

The word of the day is skelly:

a game played on the floor (usually in the foyer of the project building) using bottle tops etc... that are filled with wax. Usually crayon wax melted with a lighter into the top. Boxes are set up about 4 to 5 feet away from each other in a diagonal fashion. Players must move from box to box totaling 10 or more boxes. In the center is a set of boxes referred to as "Skelly". Skelly is synonymous with jail (yes, played in the hood go figure). You flick tops with a finger/thumb motion across ground to slide box to box ultimately hoping to get to the center unscathed. Meanwhile knocking the hell out of other players tops and "knocking them out the box" thereby eliminating your opponents. Usually the "top" aka Skelly top is made from a gallon milk top or some other lid from a beverage. Some flamboyant players will use olive jar tops or pickle jar tops (again filled with wax and pretty heavy) which serve a dramatic purpose when knocking the hell out of an opponents top. Finesse and strategy play important roles in ones success as you must be able to flick tops into small boxes drawn on the floor. Missing your box jeopardizes being put in Skelly and thereby not being able to participate for a period. Using a large top makes for a dramatic smacking of the opponents top out of their box. A successful player will move from box to box until flicking their top into center box thus winning game. You can be knocked into or out of Skelly by a sympathetic person. (

"Wearing a charcoal scarf and striding backward, tour-guide style, David noted, 'We used to play skelly here, and I had a fistfight there.'"

 - Tad Friend, "Brooklyn Boy", 23 February & 2 March 2015 The New Yorker (

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