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Author Topic: "So I says to Mabel, I says..."
snopes
Return! Return! Return!


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Comment: I'm wondering about the origin of a phrase that's been making the rounds
on the Internet. A large number of bloggers and message board posters
have taken to the cryptic phrase "So I says to Mabel, I says..." It
appears that this phrase was used in an episode of the Simpsons (episode
3F24; summary at http://www.snpp.com/episodes/3F24.html Countless
people have cited this as having come from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott
Fitzgerald; but a quick search of the book's text thru Project Gutenberg
Australia (http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks02/0200041h.html) shows nothing
of this sort. That hasn't stopped seemingly hundreds of people from
posting the "fact" that this came from The Great Gatsby. One variant says
that the line "...was plucked from 'Gatsby' by Tex Avery, who used it in a
few of his 'toons as a shorthand signifier of such pointless
conversation."
(http://www.nohomers.net/showthread.php?t=28792&page=21&pp=30). As a
college English prof, I was intrigued at first by the thought of a
throwaway line from Gatsby becoming a 'Net in-joke, but since I can't find
any solid proof, I'm wondering if you can help solve the mystery - or at
least de-bunk it.

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Tom Accuosti
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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I read something very, very similar to that in PG Wodehouse's "Damesl in Distress". But interestingly, when I read that (which was quite recently), I remembered talking to someone years ago who told me that he didn't want to associate with the kind of people "who talk like 'So I says to him, I says...'"

Obviously the form has been around for a while.

--------------------
"They told me that I was getting a sweater for my birthday.
Too bad, I was hoping for a screamer or a moaner..."

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AliBaba
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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My favorite use of it would be the Gary Larson "Far Side" cartoon, wherein one chimpanzee is grooming another, and is saying this line (IIRC). I can't verify Fitzgerald being the first to use it, but obviously by the time of the Far Side cartoon it was in common enough usage that people would recognize it as being the stereotype of the way gossipy beauty parlor employees would speak.

And all of you stylists out there, please don't flame me - I recognize it's an outdated, negative stereotype.

Ali "you're soaking in it!" Baba

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abbubmah
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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"So I says to Mabel, I says... that's the beauty of it! It doesn't do ANYthing!"

--------------------
Fundamentally Unfundie since 1975

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Rufus T. Firefly
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by hammus bubbus anonnumus:
"So I says to Mabel, I says... that's the beauty of it! It doesn't do ANYthing!"

[fish]
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Die Capacitrix
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by hammus bubbus anonnumus:
"So I says to Mabel, I says... that's the beauty of it! It doesn't do ANYthing!"

I'm scared. I had the same thought.

Googling leads to some suggestions of it coming from Gracie Allen. It certainly seems like some from vaudeville. Doesn't help much, though.

--------------------
"Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces." Judith Viorst

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Open Mike Night
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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 -

"I says to my friend Mabel, I says..Monsters must be such interesting people..."

(Right now in my mind I swear Bugs says something at least similar. Going to drive me nuts til I figure out if he did or not.)

--------------------
On the crusade to eliminate Moral Asshattery wherever it exists
Member: AAMAH

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Rufus T. Firefly
The Red and the Green Stamps


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"You monsters are such interesting creatures! I was just saying to my girlfriend, just the other day, 'Monsters are such interesting people! Why I'll bet they lead such interesting lives!' The things you must see and the things you must do! My stars!"
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Sibbie
I Saw Three Shipments


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Why say it when you can wear it?

--------------------
I'm well aware of what the goat did.

Meep!

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Methuselah
Happy Holly Days


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I had always been under the impression that "So I says to Mabel, I says" was a stereotype of inconsequential gossip that was commonly used in Vaudeville acts.

A theater troupe in the Chicago area did a Tribute to Vaudeville performance in the early nineties that I had the pleasure of seeing. One of the skits involved an actress saying the infamous "Mabel" line, then trailing off as another actor entered the scene.

But it's never been better than Bart spouting the line on "The Simpsons" [Big Grin]

--------------------
"The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." - G.K. Chesterton

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James G.
Xboxing Day


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Well, I have heard the line but don't believe I've heard it anywhere in particular. To me its never been more that just stereotypes, usualy with old women in hairnets gossping over the fence in terraced houses. (The sort of line a Pepperpot may have in Monty Python, though probably not one they actually say.)

Thus I've always place the line as a " 'ello 'ello 'ello, whats all this then." It's not actually from anywhere so to speak, but rather just 'is.'

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This is a public service announcement. The board is moving. Check Announcements Photos[/URL]

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Lilybet
Xboxing Day


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quote:
You monsters are such interesting creatures!
Lily "my new IM tagline at work!" bet

--------------------
A day in the life: Human woman *** Frozen turkey

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Zorro
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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I find a lot of people in NJ talk like this. I know I do, a lot, and no one's ever commented on it. My grandparents both did and my mother does as well, so it's a speech pattern that's been around for a while.

--------------------
"Seize the day! Make your lives extraordinary!"
-John Keating, "Dead Poets Society"

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Horse Chestnut
Happy Holly Days


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quote:
Originally posted by Rufus T. Firefly:
"You monsters are such interesting creatures! I was just saying to my girlfriend, just the other day, 'Monsters are such interesting people! Why I'll bet they lead such interesting lives!' The things you must see and the things you must do! My stars!"

Here it is! No mention of Mabel, though [Smile]
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gnome
Deck the Malls


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It could be quite old... who remembers this:

Ohh I came home on a Wednesday night,
As drunk as drunk could be
And I saw two shoes beneath the bed,
Where my old shoes should be.
So, I says to my wife, I says to her,
Would you kindly tell to me
Who owns the shoes beneath the bed,
Where my old shoes should be?

Ohhhhhhhhh, you're drunk, you're drunk,
You silly old fool, still you cannot see
It's only two geranium pots,
Me mother sent to me.
Now many a day I've travelled,
A hundred miles or more,
But geranium pots with laces,
I've never seen before.

Or my favorite version:

http://www.tomsmithonline.com/lyrics/seven_drunken_nights.htm

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Seaboe Muffinchucker
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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There was a U.S. bestseller during the WWI era called "Dere Mable."

I cannot find my copy to confirm this supposition, but I suspect the rise in popularity of the "So I says, Mabel, I says" came from this book.

Seaboe

--------------------
Education is not the filling of a hard drive, but the lighting of a bulb. -- Yeats via Esprise Me

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Christie
The Bills of St. Mary's


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Pipped at the post by Seaboe (welcome [Smile] ). Dere Mabel was written by the wonderful Edward Streeter, perhaps best known as the author of "Father of the Bride" the book the well known movies were based on.

I have that book but it's in a box in a storage unit back in Ottawa so I can't say offhand if that's where the phrase originated.

Perhaps there is another Streeter-o-phile posting here?

--------------------
If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, it's just possible you haven't grasped the situation. - Jean Kerr

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Seaboe Muffinchucker
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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Storage units have a bad habit of hoarding the books we need, don't they?

[Smile]

Thank you, Christie.

Seaboe

--------------------
Education is not the filling of a hard drive, but the lighting of a bulb. -- Yeats via Esprise Me

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