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AstroChuck's avatar

Why do they refer to kids fooling around as "playing post office"?

Asked by AstroChuck (36566 points ) August 2nd, 2008 from iPhone

I can understand the analogy when they call it “playing doctor”, but post office? I’ve worked for the post office for 23 years and I don’t see anything there to relate.

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20 Answers

Randy's avatar

Maybe it’s not post office. Maybe it’s post office. Catch my drift? Just a guess though because I’ve never heard this before. I’ve heard the playing doctor though.

MrKnowItAll's avatar

Letter in the mailbox.

AstroChuck's avatar

You think? I mean it usually refers to young children. Pretty suggestive. Can’t say I find my job too erotic either.

gailcalled's avatar

It was a game we used to play as giggly young teen-agers, along with spin-the bottle.

One person goes out of a dimly-lit room where the gang is hanging; he calls out that he has a letter for person-of-the-opposite sex A. A joins “person” and they kiss or lock braces. ‘Person’ returns to group and A then delivers a “letter” to B…ad infinitum or until parents showed up.

PupnTaco's avatar

I didn’t get invited to those kinds of parties.

gailcalled's avatar

PnT; you are probably too young. This was the Eisenhower era and there were very few opportunities for groping if no one had a car.

PupnTaco's avatar

When I was in junior high in the ‘70s, I heard stories from my friends about a naked teenage orgy that traumatized me.

So went the ‘70s.

gailcalled's avatar

By the 70’s I was a young matron with two kids…I missed most of the fun.

PupnTaco's avatar

And the STDs, ha ha.

marinelife's avatar

I guess you just never worked out of the right branches, AC. Great question!

The name seems to be about “paying” for your letter with a kiss. From online etymology: Post office first recorded 1652 as “public department in charge of letter-carrying;” Meaning “Building where postal business is carried on” is from 1657. In slang or euphemistic sense of “sexual game” it refers to a parlor game first attested early 1850s in which pretend “letters” were paid for by kisses.

Here are some cultural references from wikipedia(game):

”# A 1954 television episode of The Jack Benny Show with Fred Allen guest-starring, Benny is surprised by Allen hiding in a closet. When Benny demands to know what Allen is doing in the closet, Allen says “Playing ‘post office.’ Kiss me!”
# In his unfinished novel Answered Prayers, Truman Capote writes: “Kissing her, according to Dill, was like playing post office with a dead and rotting whale: she really did need a dentist.”
# In the 1968 movie Yours, Mine and Ours, Frank, played by Henry Fonda is on a date with a younger free-love hippie. The date is interrupted by Helen, played by Lucille Ball. While Frank and Helen commiserate over the problems they have with their respective children, the hippie says “Why don’t you drop me off at the exit, then you two can play post office!””

poofandmook's avatar

When I was a kid, and I played post office, um, there was nothing to do with kissing. It was strictly post office. LOL

gailcalled's avatar

@Poof; Pity. Those little teasing sexual games were more fun than “tell and bare all” that goes on today, I think. “Making-out” may be one of the lost arts.

poofandmook's avatar

@gail: Making-out is just another manner of foreplay now.

marinelife's avatar

@poof It misses the piquance that happened when you absolutely knew it would go no further.

arnbev959's avatar

@PnT: there are still naked teenage orgies going on today.

breedmitch's avatar

Don’t scare him Pete!

brianlong88's avatar

playing “post office” doesnt sound as dirty as “doctor”..

gailcalled's avatar

“Doctor” was normally between much younger kids and revolved around curiosity about what was “down there.” “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” Since I had a baby brother appear when I was almost seven, I got to see it for free (and it wasn’t much to write home abou…then.)

SPHINXO's avatar

I worked for the “Pigeon-Hole Jungle” (a.k.a. Post Office) in Los Angeles for over nine years. Some employees, opposite and even same-sex pairs, “played Post Office” right on the facilities. One co-worker got caught at it and she was discharged.

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