Zodi’s Blog

The Origin of Phrases II

We’re back with a few peoples favorite post to learn the real origins of some of today’s most popular (and not so popular) phrases. So without further ado (I know I have to get to that one too) …. the all dedication edition…..


-Wash My Balls for a Dollar

When Ramblin’ Rooster requested this one, I thought that maybe he was taking the piss. After a little research I was surprised that this phrase is actually quite popular in low income and urban areas in the mid-west. The phrase was written in the original script for Boyz N the Hood by John Singleton. The phrase was replaced however when, during the first month of shooting Singleton and Ice Cube were getting pissy on the Crystal, and a nappy headed crack ho asked Mr. Cube for a crumb. When Ice replied, “suck my mother fuckin dick” John quickly wrote it in his notebook and the rest was history. Fate was finicky for ‘Wash my balls for a dollar,’ or it would be a pop culture phenomenon still today. Apparently the phrase is still used sparingly by liberal Hollywood, the West Coast elitists, and occasionally by crack dealers looking for a quick laugh or in need of a ball cleansing.



-Jump on the Bandwagon

Requested by Micky-T. Although many fools attribute this phrase to P.T. Barnum, it was originally coined by Dan Rice who was a world renowned circus clown. This was back when circus clowning was an intellectually respectable vocation; before all of the clown nonsense began. Mr. Rice found that he could substantially increase his income by throwing his considerable weight (this was before the 30 clowns to a car shtick, and he weighed a lot) behind political campaigns. He’d bring his fancy bandwagon which was stocked with a full bar, to crowded areas and get everyone drunk if they promised to vote for whoever he was supporting that election year. Some people would become too intoxicated to stay on the slowly moving vehicle, which was also how the phrase ‘falling off the wagon’ came to pass. Unfortunately, most of the people who fell off Rice’s wagon were crushed by his massive 60in spinning rims on phat Goodyear’s.

                                                                                                                                                         dan rice

The phrase began adopting a negative connotation in the late 1840’s, when Rice successfully got a Know Nothing candidate elected in Boston. The Know Nothing political party was extremely anti-Irish and anti-immigrant, but above all else anti-Irish immigrant. So when a bunch of Irish immigrants unwittingly elected a K.N. politician because of too much free booze and a fancy wagon ride, the potatoes really started flying. The backlash was stereotypically drunken and violent and eventually the election was overturned. The Supreme Court, which was surprisingly made up of oracles, ruled that it would be like a bunch of Mexican immigrants electing Lou Dobbs…..uh…a hundred and seventy years from now.

This phrase, much like most of our proud linguistics, is now used almost exclusively in reference to sports. 


-If the Shoe Fits, Walk a Mile in it

For Claire , I easily found that this phrase began as a duel sponsored corporate advertising campaign put together by the mad men working for R.J. Reynolds and Buster Brown in 1944. The commercial was made sexclusivley for theater audiences because of the adult nature of the content, i.e.; there was a tongue (or European) kiss. The ad starred Ingrid Bergman as Virginia Slim and Cary Grant as Joe Camel. In the first scene Virginia is having a fight with her husband over a burnt roast. After receiving a sharp slap, Virginia storms off and we next see her in the neighborhood strip mall trying on a new pair of comfortable Buster Brown shoes. After paying (with her new Shawmut debit card), she tells the clerk, “Why these shoes fit so well, I think I’ll walk a mile for a Camel in them.” After a short clip of her walking down a long and dusty road we see her arrive at an isolated farmhouse. On the porch is a rugged, square jawed farmer sitting with his sweaty torso fully exposed as he happily drags on a cigarette. He slowly rises and greets her with a long passionate kiss, tilts her head gently back and says, “You’ve come a long way baby!”   

                                                                                                                                                                      Bergman smoking

The ad only ran for 3 short months before the American Family Association began protesting, and got it shut down.

*I still have two more requests due for nest week’s edition, but remember…. if you have any phrases that are close to your heart let me know!!!


November 4, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,


  1. I’ve never heard the phrase before, but I’m going to yell “Wash my balls with a dollar!” at someone in traffic today. I think I like it. 😉

    Comment by Jay | November 4, 2009 | Reply

    • Or maybe “Wash my balls FOR a dollar!” even.

      Comment by Jay | November 4, 2009 | Reply

      • I’m kinda liking the ‘with a dollar’ now. It gives the hint that you’re so rich, you don’t mind wasting another dollar for clean balls. Like lighting a cigar with a c-note.

        Thanks Jay!!

        Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 5, 2009 | Reply

    • Would you give them the dollar to use and also another dollar for a job well done?

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 5, 2009 | Reply

  2. Who played the husband in that ad?

    Comment by nursemyra | November 4, 2009 | Reply

    • I think it was Edward G Robinson, but I could be making that up all wrong.

      Thanks Nursemyra!!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 5, 2009 | Reply

  3. My favorite is CROSS THAT BRIDGE WHEN WE COME TO IT…..it is truly my life…dont get upset until you need to and dont worry about things you have no effect on right now…..but hey wash my balls for a dollar is a winner though…….zman sends

    Comment by zmanowner | November 4, 2009 | Reply

    • That is very sage advice z-man. It’s now also on my growing list. And yea, I think that ‘wash my balls for a dollar’ is a winner for both parties involved; someone gets a dollar, and someone get freshly scrubbed balls!

      Thanks Zman!!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 5, 2009 | Reply

  4. Wash my balls for a dollar? Damn I wish I had balls! That’s a great phrase.

    Okay — here is one for you to include in your next edition….

    “Couldn’t put a patch on my ass”.

    Comment by tlwshoemaker | November 4, 2009 | Reply

    • I don’t wish you had balls Tammie, but I’m just being selfish, I suppose. You could always adapt it to fit the female anatomy! ‘Couldn’t put a patch on my ass’ is now on the list!

      Thanks Tammie!!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 5, 2009 | Reply

  5. I’ll be putting some thought to some good old school phrases for you but it may be tough to top (or bottom?) wash my balls for a dollar.

    By the way, in my day the phrase was “scrub my nuts for a nickel.”

    Comment by Donald Mills | November 5, 2009 | Reply

    • “If Don had a nickel…”

      Comment by bschooled | November 5, 2009 | Reply

      • I’ll bet he used to carry hundreds of them for just that occasion. I know I would.

        Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 5, 2009 | Reply

    • I can’t wait Don! I love working with old school phrases. They still call me the OG back where I’m from. It might be partly because of my last name though. ‘Scrub my nuts for a nickel’ sounds phenomenal, unless it was one of those wooden nickels I’ve heard so much about.

      Thanks Don!!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 5, 2009 | Reply

  6. I’m sorry, Scott, but no matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to get past that first phrase.

    I know that Boyz in The Hood came out in the early 90’s, but even back then, what could you really buy for a dollar?

    You couldn’t pay me 10 dollars to do that to someone.

    Maybe not even 20.

    Comment by bschooled | November 5, 2009 | Reply

    • See, crack produces an effect that is almost the direct opposite of hyperinflation. There is almost nothing those folks wont do for a dollar, and nothing whatsoever that they wont do for $5.

      Plus, if you ever decided to enter the rewarding and exciting career of a nursing assistant, you would be washing balls (and much, much worse) for about a dollar. –If you earned minimum wage and it took you ten minutes to wash a set….that’s about a dollar/per wash.

      Thanks B!!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 5, 2009 | Reply

    • Would you wash Lance Armstrong’s ball for 50 cents?

      Comment by fundamentaljelly | November 5, 2009 | Reply

      • Yeah, unfortunately I probably would…

        (When I said “someone,” I wasn’t talking about celebrity someones)

        Comment by bschooled | November 5, 2009 | Reply

      • If that was directed at me FJ; my answer is a big round yes as well. I’d probably try to get Tom Green to go for it as well to round out the numbers though.

        Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 5, 2009 | Reply

  7. I’m with Jay, I’m gonna yell that balls phrase out as often as I can
    I think I’ll start at the car wash, that’ll confuse the shit out of them

    I always heard ‘if the shoe fits, wear it’
    I guess that’s the lazy version

    Yummy photo of Ingrid

    Comment by dianne | November 5, 2009 | Reply

    • Haha, I don’t know. If you yell that out at the car wash, I think that you’d get a few takers. Please do report back to me with the results of this educational experiment!

      Thanks Dianne!!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 5, 2009 | Reply

  8. Ha…I loooove your Know Nothing party passage. Nice. Cheers Scott!!

    Comment by Matt-Man | November 5, 2009 | Reply

    • I had a feeling deep in my left lung that you would especially appreciate that one.

      Thanks Matt-Man, I’m happy you’re home!!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 5, 2009 | Reply

  9. Ok Scott, I have a few for you:

    “Who Let the Dogs Out?”

    “Who the Fuck is Alice?”

    “What’s the Frequency Kenneth?”

    “Can I get a What What?”

    (I guess these aren’t so much phrases…more like questions that have been bugging me for a really long time.)

    Comment by bschooled | November 5, 2009 | Reply

    • I can answer those questions for you here and now. It’s what I do…

      1- That fucking Dick Chaney let them out while playing The Most Dangerous Game with prisoners he ‘borrowed’ from Gitmo.
      2- Alice was just a girl much like yourself; educated, bright, beautiful, and from an upstanding family. However she began to make some poor choices, and eventually fell in with the wrong crowd. She became a drug addict and eventually fell down the proverbial…..no scratch that…the literal rabbit hole. Sadly, she was never heard from again.
      3- This is a song by R.E.M. which was poking fun at Dan Rather’s journalistic integrity. Over time it has become slang for a ‘confused or clueless’ person. I believe that the actual frequency is 98.7 AM. Home of Rush Limbaugh.
      4- You sure can B! What What! Or wait, was that rhetorical question?

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 5, 2009 | Reply

      • Best. Response. Ever.

        ps. Thanks for the what whats, Scott. I was totally jonesing there for a bit…

        Comment by bschooled | November 6, 2009 | Reply

        • Anytime B. If you’re ever hurting just come knocking on my cellar door, and I’ll hook you up!

          Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 6, 2009 | Reply

  10. If I had a two dollars for every time I wanted someone to wash my balls for a dollar I’d own that fucking bandwagon and wouldn’t care if the shoe fit because I wouldn’t be walking.

    Comment by Micky-T | November 5, 2009 | Reply

    • Well there you go; you found your pot of gold. Just find people who are willing to pay you two dollars, to wash your balls (Oh, they’re out there, believe me) and you can buy yourself a fancy bandwagon!

      Thanks Micky!!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 6, 2009 | Reply

  11. Great stuff, Scott. Top notch word-detective work, just like the 5th grade teacher promised us. We could all have exciting jobs like this if we would just score higher on the vocab worksheets. We all knew she was lying but we decided to try to make her smile by getting her transferred into the wrong part of town.

    I could have sworn I’d heard “Wash my balls for a dollar” several times at the country club, occasionally while on the golf course.

    My requests?

    – Stop on a dime
    – Threat Level: Orange
    – When in Rome… (I believe this has something to do with/in Jim Rome?)
    – Enuff Z’Nuff

    Thanks in advance, especially for letting me write my own punchline on the Rome thing.

    Comment by Capitalist Lion Tamer | November 6, 2009 | Reply

    • CLT, If only we’d all known back then that it wasn’t about the GPA or the SAT scores, but that the key to success in life was 5th grade vocabulary worksheets……oh well, I guess the world needs ditch diggers too. I should know.

      I’ll tackle ‘stop on a dime’ in one of my posts. That one is just too time intensive to handle on a comment thread. You’ve already hit the Rome punch line, very well I might add; how can that man NOT be gay? I’m going to have delegate Enuff Z’Nuff to our resident expert on all things music…..you. So that only leaves Threat Level: Orange.

      The primary color system for terror alert status was the brain-less-child of Pennsylvania boy made bad, Tom Ridge. He wanted to develop a system that could easily be deciphered by both the window licking public and the short bus driving president at the time, George Bush. So he used a variation of the common traffic light to indicate how afraid we should be at any given time. The problems occurred with orange, when people who saw serious threats were unsure of whether to slow down or stop. The most common reaction was to speed up slightly and pretend that you didn’t see the threat level.

      Personally I feel that he should’ve called that one Clockwork Orange, I’d have been better prepared. That movie both creeped me out and warped my delicate sensibilities.

      Thanks CLT!!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 6, 2009 | Reply

  12. The “ad” is hilarious. 🙂

    Comment by azahar | November 6, 2009 | Reply

    • Glad you liked it! And glad you stopped by, we x-pats gotta stick together…

      Thanks Azahar!!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 6, 2009 | Reply

  13. I’m so honored… I’m tearing up… thank you!!!

    Comment by Ramblin' Rooster | November 9, 2009 | Reply

    • Glad you appreciate the love, my brother. Your phrase was my favorite one!

      Thanks Rooster!!

      Comment by Scott Oglesby | November 9, 2009 | Reply

  14. His phrase was your favorite? Well then, I’m not even sure why I showed up.

    Okay fine. It was my favorite too. But every time I yell it I just get funny looks so I hop on my camel and walk a mile away.

    Comment by Claire Collins | November 12, 2009 | Reply

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