Thank you ma'am; Kiss me (bump or dip in road)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Jul 14 00:22:52 UTC 2011

The "kiss from any handy female" bit reminds me of "padiddle" (which I understand is sometimes transcribed "perdiddle", a natural variation since it seems to be a Northeast (NY, NJ) tradition.  If a male and female are driving down a road at night and the former spots a car with just one headlight on he calls "padiddle" and gets to kiss the latter.  If the latter identifies the padiddle first, she gets to slap him--or, on another variant I recall hearing although I never experienced it myself, she gets to either slap or kiss him, as she chooses.  My memory of padiddles goes back to the early 60s in the NYC and Rochester areas.  It didn't turn into slam-bam-thankyou-ma'ams, it just kind of faded away, even though padiddles (the cars, not the tradition) can still be seen.

Just checking the web, I find this account from Grant, not dissimilar to what I recall:


On Jul 13, 2011, at 8:03 PM, Garson O'Toole wrote:

> Jonathan Lighter wrote
>> The HDAS files have several exx. in addition to that from 1890.  The
>> documentation of "wham-bam, thank you ma'am" as a sexual allusion, however,
>> does not begin until the WWII era.
>> My understanding (from God knows where) is that the early custom (ca1890)
>> was that when a wagon hit a bump in the road, any male involved could demand
>> a kiss from any handy female. Hence the "Thank you ma'am!"
>> But it culd be BS.
> This message continues a discussion of "wham-bam-thank-you ma'am!" by
> focusing on the phrases "thank you ma'am" and 'kiss me." First, thanks
> to Wilson Gray, George Thompson, Dan Goncharoff, Jonathan Lighter,
> Robin Hamilton, and Victor Steinbok for comments on the thread called
> "Phrase: the old, slam-bang, thank-you-ma'ams (automobile tires circa
> 1925 probably)"
> The OED (2nd edition) has an entry for "thank-you-ma'am" that includes

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