Don’t Throw Out The Baby

According to the Oxford English dictionary woopie is an affluent retired person able to pursue an active lifestyle, so I guess the word that I am looking for is whoopee, like hooray, hallelujah, hell yea, hot dog, yahoo or yippee.  The reason why I am excited is that my prompt word of “dirty” has been selected for the January 29th Jusjojan challenge after I followed the “One Word Rule”.  One day when I was young, my mom asked me if I would like to hear a dirty joke.  I was a bit apprehensive, but I said, “Sure go ahead.”  My mom said, “Two pigs fell in the mud, ha, ha, ha.”  This made me laugh because it was so like my mom to say something like this.  Her favorite joke was, “Did you ever go for a gopher?”, and this maybe where I got my corny sense of humor from.  When playing seven-card stud the first two cards are dealt down, the next four are up which you bet on, and the final hole card is said to be down and dirty.  Down and dirty can also be something that is highly competitive or unprincipled, or something that is earthy, direct, and explicit.

Before indoor plumbing was popular, there was a saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the dirty bathwater.”  In the later middle ages and into the Renaissance, the middle class were especially prone to bathing, because having a tub (and the means to heat the water to fill it) was a status symbol.  There was rarely a dedicated bathing room in houses, so instead, the tub was brought into the bedroom, placed before the fire, and filled there.  People didn’t bathe all that much, because hauling bucket after bucket of water up a few flights of stairs and heating it over a fire was not something they (or their servants) could do every day.  Water was heated by wood fires & wood became more expensive as forests were diminished, so on bathing days entire families would share the same bath water.

There was a bathing hierarchy for shared bath water and the first to bathe, and the only member of the household to enjoy a bath in clean water, was the male head of the household which was usually the husband.  Next in line were subordinate male family members in order of seniority first being grandfathers, then uncles, brothers, sons, male cousins, etc.  Women were always last in the familial bathing hierarchy unless they were widowed with no male family member within the home.  But women, too, followed the same hierarchical pattern, with the highest ranking female first usually being the wife.  Then came grandmothers, aunts, sisters, daughters, female cousins, etc.  Always last to bathe were the children.  These small members of the family bathed in the filthiest bath water.  From this, the expression, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” was derived.

The Standells were a Los Angeles, California based band and the song ‘Dirty Water’ was written by their producer Ed Cobb who got mugged by the Charles River when he visited Boston.  The Boston Harbor and the Charles River, were notoriously polluted at the time.  This was their first hit single.  Many people consider the 1966 song ‘Dirty Water’ to be the first punk song.

I’m gonna tell you a story
I’m gonna tell you about my town
I’m gonna tell you a big fat story, baby
Aw, it’s all about my town

Yeah, down by the river
Down by the banks of the river Charles
(Aw, that’s what’s happenin’ baby)
That’s where you’ll find me
Along with lovers, muggers, and thieves
(Aw, but they’re cool people)

Well I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston, you’re my home
(Oh, you’re the number one place)

Frustrated women (I mean they’re frustrated)
Have to be in by twelve o’clock (oh, that’s a shame)
But I’m wishin’ and a-hopin’, oh
That just once those doors weren’t locked
(I like to save time for my baby to walk around)

Well I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston, you’re my home (oh, yeah)

Because I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston, you’re my home (oh, yeah)

Well, I love that dirty water (I love it, baby)
I love that dirty water (I love Boston)
I love that dirty water (Have you heard about the strangler?)
I love that dirty water (I’m the man, I’m the man)
I love that dirty water (Ow)
I love that dirty water (Come on, come on)

Written for Linda G. Hill’s ‘Life in progress’ JusJoJan January twenty-ninth prompt suggested by NewEpicAuthor A Unique Title For Me and that prompt is “Dirty”.

25 thoughts on “Don’t Throw Out The Baby

  1. I remember my dad telling me about that bath hierarchy in his family. It was one of the (many) things that stuck with him from childhood and messed with his head. The producer turn a minus (getting mugged) into a plus (a hit song).

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    1. I never got mugged but that happened to my wife when she was retrieving her keys from her purse to get into her car after work one day. She threw her back out trying to fight this kid off who finally won and took her pocketbook.

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      1. It’s a sad world that has people always on guard against other people. I’m sorry your wife got mugged and threw her back out. I’m also glad something worse didn’t happen to her. I know the movies always shows people getting mugged in NYC but didn’t realize it was that bad.

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      2. It is bad enough loosing your money and having to send away for a new driver’s license, but she was really made that she no longer had her stirrer which I gave her the night we met. Yea this simple plastic stirrer had a lot of meaning to her. My buddies and I went out clubbing a lot and when we got mixed drinks we always held the stirrer between our thumb and forefinger and bent it in half. The rationale behind this was that if you could bend it perfectly in half where both tips were touching because each side was the same size, that this meant you would get lucky and meet a girl. I did this that night and I put the stirrer in my pocket and later gave it to the girl I met who later became my wife.

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  2. I grew up North of Boston and that song is about the Charles River (a polluted mess). I’ve heard it about a million times.
    You really covered the whole topic of dirty well

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  3. I remember the pig fell into the mud joke. As kids we thought that was so funny to punk our friends. I can almost hear the retort “oh come on I thought you were really going to tell a dirty joke”. Another interesting post and nice song choice.

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  4. I haven’t heard that song in so many years! Thanks for bringing it back. 🙂 And thanks for the history lesson on the phrase. I always wondered where that came from. 🙂 AND, thanks again for the prompt!! 😀

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