a gesture; and cubana & green specs

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Mon Sep 23 17:01:36 UTC 2002

>No doubt green spectacles were tinted glasses.  They must have been a
>novelty, and I'm interested by the indications that wearing them were
>taken by some as a very objectionable affectation.

I think some would have [had] similar reactions to those wearing sunglasses
"inappropriately" (e.g., at night) during recent years, too. And especially
"mirror shades" maybe.

>As for cubana, my definition of "cigar" is purely a guess, based on the
>thought that cigars come from Cuba and rationalized by supposing that the
>cigar was the sort of prize that might be fought for.  Cubana wasn't in
>HDAS or OED.  I'll check DARE.  Meanwhile, translating "cubana" as "fight"
>certainly makes sense, but then we need to cook up some reason why it
>would mean "fight".

"Cubana" = "cigar" is a perfectly fine guess IMHO, except that it doesn't
seem natural in the context (without further information). "Cubana" =
"cigar" appears from 1851 in Mathews (with a peculiar proposed etymology!).

>No one remembers a Gene Kelly dance with this gesture?  I'll settle for
>Fred Astaire or even Arthur Murray.

I freely concede this gesture. I can't remember where-all I've seen it, but
I saw it recently in some animated movie (Disney, I think), and I think
Popeye probably did this in some cartoon(s) about 40-50 years ago. But
there is also the possibility of a challenge expressed by deranging the
prospective opponent's hat perhaps.

-- Doug Wilson

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