Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Heads or Tails #38 -- Any Tom, Dick or Harry

Today is the day of everyman at Heads or Tails, America's fastest growing Tuesday meme: In this exciting episode Barb wants us to write about any Tom, Dick or Harry.

The phrase any "Tom, Dick or Harry" is used, in English, to mean anyone.

So when the box arrives on Christmas eve and the box says that it's so easy to build the toy inside (from the 4,598 component parts) that any Tom, Dick or Harry can do it -- that's when you tell your wife your name is Ed and she can darn well get one of them to do it; you're going to the kitchen for another egg nog.

I remember Bill Veeck telling the story about how he had to build a rocking horse one Christmas Eve while the children were dreaming all snug in their beds, etc.

Well, a couple of festive beverages were consumed and parts were jammed here and there as seemed expedient at the moment... and when the job was done, the head was where the tail should have been and vice versa. Veeck's wife was less than impressed... but he told her it was alright, they'd just name the horse Charlie Finley.

Though "Tom, Dick and Harry" can describe everyman, can you name the only three American presidents who had those names? (There's only one of each.)

Now, ask your children... or grandchildren. Will they know?

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Now, to rouse you from the gloomy mood in which you will surely find yourself when you pop the foregoing quiz on your descendants, may I provide these lyrics from the musical, Kiss Me Kate. Ann Miller, on the left, is Bianca. Play this in the YouTube of your mind -- the name of the song, of course, from which these excerpts are taken is "Tom, Dick or Harry":

BIANCA:
I'm a maid who would marry
And will take with no qualm
Any Tom, Dick or Harry,
Any Harry, Dick or Tom,
I'm a maid mad to marry
And will take double-quick
Any Tom, Dick or Harry,
Any Tom, Harry or Dick.

GREMIO:
I'm the man thou shouldst marry.

BIANCA:
Howdy, Pop!

GREMIO:
Howdy, Mom.

LUCENTIO:
I'm the man thou shouldst marry.

BIANCA:
Art thou Harry, Dick or Tom?

HORTENSIO:
I'm the man thou shouldst marry.

BIANCA:
Howdy, pal!

HORTENSIO:
Howdy, chick!

BIANCA:
Art thou Tom, Dick or Harry?

HORTENSIO:
Call me Tom, Harry or Dick.


(Lyrics obtained from allmusicals.com. Photo of Ann Miller and Kathryn Grayson obtained and edited from original at Movie Market (UK).)

9 comments:

Rob said...

I'd guess Thomas Jefferson, Richard M. Nixon, & Harry S. Truman.

Skittles said...

Argh.. rob beat me to the answers. I knew them, too!!! Sheesh.

My ex was an Ed. Well, he was a dick, too, but we won't go there. ;)

The Curmudgeon said...

Well, c'mon now! I more or less assumed my readers would know... I'm just afraid your kids or grandkids won't... that's the part that scares me.

Rob said...

My kiddo is still trying to master the intricacies of "The Wheels On the Bus," so he's not likely to be able to contribute much on this... :)

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Rob beat me as well!!

Sandy M said...

Everone beat me. I've never even heard of that movie. Great post.

Patti said...

I knew the answers right away! I'll quiz my son.

Raven said...

Great post. My kids have 4 legs and aren't much into politics, so I can't test my younger generation. I knew the answer. You have a wonderful writing style. I enjoyed reading this.

Jeni said...

Thomas Jefferson, "Tricky Dick" Nixon and Harry Truman.