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A merkin for your quim
Posted: 28 September 2007 06:32 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I couldn’t help breaking into laughter when I first worked out (with the help of a dictionary) the meaning of this raffish phrase. The trouble is I cannot remember where I first chanced upon it. Can someone help me with its origins? Shakespear? Andrew Marvell?

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Posted: 28 September 2007 07:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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It’s contemporary, presumably concocted by somebody who was thrilled with the archaic terms and wanted to put them into circulation. This Wikipedia talk page has the exchange:

Ah merkin. Now thats a word you dont hear very often. What a picture it conjures! 8-)

Yes, often used in the salutation “A merkin for your quim, madam”. Most women are chuffed when they hear this, initially at least. JackofOz 01:06, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

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Posted: 28 September 2007 09:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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What’s with “archaic”, languagehat?! Get with it, man! These things are apparently all the rage! Forget the Wikipedia talk page, and take a shufti at the Wikipedia action page, where you’ll see one illustrated in shocking pink. The phrase quoted by teaserrams seems more likely to be an advertising slogan for “Victoria’s Secret” than a quotation from Marvell.

A hairless young harlot named Perkin
When asked why she favoured a merkin,
Replied in a trice
“It’s nice for the lice,
Who else would have nowhere to lurk in”

Thank you, teaserrams. I’d never heard of merkins before today. Nothing like wordorigins.org for broadening one’s horizons.

;-)

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Posted: 28 September 2007 10:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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A couple of wonderful cites for the word in OED which I had to pass on. (Earliest cite is 1617, and OED gives for etymology Prob. orig. a variant of MALKIN n., or < a parallel pet-form of the female forename Mary (cf. the Middle English surnames Marekin, Marykin)

But here’s the cites that caught my eye.

1660 Mercurius Fumig. No. 7. 56 The last week was lost a Merkin in the Coven-Garden. 1714 A. SMITH Lives Highwaymen II. 151 This put a strange Whim in his Head; which was, to get the hairy circle of her Merkin… This he dry’d well, and comb’d out, and then return’d to the Cardinall, telling him, he had brought St. Peter’s Beard.

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Posted: 28 September 2007 10:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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In Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, the American president (one of several roles played by Peters Sellers) is named Merkin Muffley.

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Posted: 29 September 2007 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Merkin Concert Hall is a venue in NYC. A lawyer I know always refers to it as Snatch Wig Hall.

What I’ve never understood about merkins is how they were attached, and why anyone would wear one.

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Posted: 29 September 2007 01:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Spirit gum? Attached to something like thong underwear?  I’m only guessing.

As for reasons, see the list that Cecil Adams collected.

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Posted: 29 September 2007 04:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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A merkin is also a fly used in salt water fly fishing.

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Posted: 30 September 2007 12:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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The Wikipedia article referred to by Lionello is pretty informative, kurwamac.

Looking at the picture therein, Doc, it seems it must be glue.

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Posted: 30 September 2007 01:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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This short Guardian piece speaks to how they are attached (the modern ones), as also to the earliest known date for their use.

......... they’re either woven on to a mesh and stuck on with spirit gum, or attached to a transparent G-string.

The Oxford Companion To The Body traces the merkin back to 1450, a time when the bidet was a distant prospect and personal hygiene fell well short of the mark. Pubic lice were common - so some women, fed up with the constant itching, just shaved the lot off and then covered their modesty with a merkin.

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Posted: 30 September 2007 03:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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the following verses were inspired by the incomparable Del Brown, celebrated in the rather oddly-worded page at the site linked in Faldage’s post, above:

PERMIT FISHING WITH A FLY

I woke one day in mortal dread ---
“My God!” I thought. “I’ll soon be dead!
And what have I achieved to date?
NOTHING! My life’s one big blank slate!”

That morning, o’er my breakfast cereal,
I started looking at material
To give my life a little meaning ---
A sort of “spiritual spring-cleaning”.

A title there that caught my eye
Was “PERMIT FISHING WITH A FLY”.

I cried “Why not? Why not?” cried I.
“I’ll give this way-out sport a try,
And land a permit ere I die!
Perhaps the gulfs will wash me down ---
Who cares? I’ll LIVE before I drown!”

I hired a permit-fishing boat,
With sea-wolf skipper, stern, remote.
We sailed upon the briny main,
I fished, and fished, but all in vain.

The skipper finally spoke out:
“D’you think you’re fishing here for trout?
No permit’s ever going to bite ---
Your fly is buttoned far too tight!”

I muttered then in bitter shame
“I’m doomed to die without a name”.
Then said the skipper (kind for once)
“I tell you what, you stupid dunce ---
Go get yourself a proper fly,
And then we’ll have another try.
You have to have” explained the skipper,
A fly that’s fastened with a ZIPPER!”

Next day I came aboard equipped
with brand-new fly, quite loosely zipped.
“Now that’s a fly” the skipper said,
“Will strike those permits good and dead.

A MERKIN, such a fly is called;
They’re used by ladies who’ve gone bald.
And now” the skipper said “Let’s try
To catch some permits with that fly”.

Lo and behold! within two ticks
The permits came—one, two, four, six!
And thick and fast they came at last ---
Even the skipper was aghast!
We stacked ‘em half-way up the mast.

So all you folks whose life is bleak
And some relief of spirit seek,
The thing you really need to try
Is fishing permits with a fly.

And, if you’re going to do it right,
Make sure your fly’s not closed too tight.

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Posted: 30 September 2007 05:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Lionello, that’s wonderful! You have a real gift for for such verse, it reminds me so much of one of my own favourites, Thomas Hood.

Here’s the last few quatrains of Faithless Sally Brown in which poor old matelot Ben is jilted by his sweetheart. (They contain in the last quatrain what one professor called ‘the best pun in the English language’, and it is a cracker.)

“O Sally Brown, O Sally Brown,
How could you serve me so?
I’ve met with many a breeze before,
But never such a blow”:

Then reading on his ‘bacco box
He heaved a bitter sigh,
And then began to eye his pipe,
And then to pipe his eye.

And then he tried to sing “All’s Well,”
But could not though he tried;
His head was turn’d, and so he chew’d
His pigtail till he died.

His death, which happen’d in his berth,
At forty-odd befell:
They went and told the sexton, and
The sexton toll’d the bell.

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Posted: 30 September 2007 08:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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lionello - 30 September 2007 03:18 AM

PERMIT FISHING WITH A FLY

which I thought was a pun, both on “permit” and “fly”, but no, there really is a fish called a “permit”.  Of course, that raises the question, do you need a permit to catch permit?

Nice one, Lionello, reminded me of one of my favourites, “The Hunting of the Snark”.

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Posted: 30 September 2007 08:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Thank you, aldi. Praise from a connoisseur like you is praise indeed.
Yes, Hood was certainly addicted to puns and word-plays (forgive this sinner for the hyphen, Lord ;-), wasn’t he. The example I remember most clearly, is his comment on being a writer: “I must be a lively Hood for a livelihood”.
Thank you, too, bayard, for opening my eyes. i didn’t realize that a permit is also a fish, until you pointed it out. My doggerel was composed under a gross misapprehension (about permits, not flies. I know a lot about flies, having diligently swotted them throughout my long life). So that fishy-looking web page was not so oddly-written as it seemed.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: nothing like wordorigins.org for broadening one’s horizons.

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Posted: 30 September 2007 12:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Interesting.  I didn’t know about it either, and I’m glad to have learned.  It’s from Spanish palometa; here are the OED citations:

1884 G. B. GOODE Fisheries U.S. I. 329 The African pompano—Trachynotus goreensis… In the Gulf of Mexico it is not unusual, being known at Key West as the ‘Permit’. . 1911 Rep Comm. U.S. Bureau Fisheries 1908 314/1 Other species [of pompano] found on our eastern coast are the ‘old-wife’.., the ‘round pompano’, or ‘Indian River permit’; the ‘permit’ or ‘great pompano’. 1990 Connoisseur Sept. 100/1 Most permit seen on the flats weigh between five and fifteen pounds. 1994 N.Y. Times 27 Nov. V. 12/2 Most guests come seeking fly fishing’s Grand Slam, hoping to land a bonefish, a permit and a tarpon—the sport’s Big Three.

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Posted: 30 September 2007 06:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Thank you, teaserrams. I’d never heard of merkins before today. Nothing like wordorigins.org for broadening one’s horizons.

;-)

Denada.  Same reason I hang out here.  Nifty limerick.  I liked it.

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