come up and see my etchings

Wed Jun 30 15:42:28 UTC 1999

        In a recent message, Barry Popik gave a source for this catchphrase
from 1936 and speculates that it is an adaptation of Mae West's line,
"come up and see me sometime".  Another allusion from about the same
time, or slightly earlier or later, is a James Thurber cartoon, one
which I haven't actually seen for many years.  As I recall it, it
showed a typically wimpy balding thurberesque man speaking to a
pretty young woman who's sitting in a lobby-like setting.  The man is
saying something like "You just wait here and I will bring my
etchings right down."  This suggests that it was a voguish phrase in
the mid-30s.

        Mae West's words are those of a temptress; "come up and see my
etchings" are those of a seducer/rapist trying to lure an innocent
maiden into a place where she will be vunerable: in the words of an
older melodrama, "Once aboard the lugger and the gal is mine!"  So I
would expect a direct borrowing from some play or movie.


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