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Nixie on Your Tintype

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If you want to sound defiant, you could do worse than exclaiming, “Nixie on your tintype!” This phrase, meaning something to the effect of “spit on your face,” popped up in Marjorie Benton Cooke’s 1914 book, Bambi (not related to the sweet little deer). Kristin Anderson, a listener from Apalachicola, Florida, shares this great poem that makes use of the phrase. This is part of a complete episode.

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  • It isn’t “nixie,” it’s “ninny,” as in the Spoonerized poem my mother (b. Fairmont, MN 1905) used to recite:

    Once there was a molicepan,
    Saw a bittle lum
    Sittin’ on a pence fost,
    Chewin’ gubber rum.
    “O,” said the molicepan,
    “Won’t you simme gum?”
    “Tinny on your nintype,”
    Said the bittle lum.

  • I know this show is over a year old, but it was just rebroadcast, so it’s new for me. My great Aunt also taught me this poem, but without any nixies

    Once there was a molicepan, who met a bittle lum
    sitting on a sturbing cone, chewing gubber rum
    “please,” asked the molicepan, “won’t you simme gum?”
    not by a sam dite, said the bittle lum

    I assume “not by a dam site” or is it “damned sight” carries a similar insult

  • I just heard this for the first time as well, and I was struck by the possibility that this could have been one of those silly songs that parents sing to children as they tweak their noses or belly buttons. Or, based on one of Grant’s questions regarding the rhythm of the poem, maybe it’s a song that children used to keep time while jumping rope?

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