Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Mere Bag of Shells

A quiz...

Who said that?

Though the evening began with Doro, Mary and I going to a wake for a friend's father, it ended with the three of us going to dinner and then to Doro's beautiful home for a nightcap. The above wonderful piece of folk art adorns the wall of Doro's kitchen. 15 years ago, when she and her hubs owned a home on Fire Island, they were walked down the beach one day and on their trip found the above piece of drift wood. Next Doro stumbled upon a ginormous pile of just this kind of shell - said there were 100's of them. They took both driftwood and shells home and because Doro's creativeness would put Martha Stewart to shame, this wonderful sign was created! It hung on the outside of their FI home for years until they moved here. That's some kind of good glue! Any guesses where that was first said?

expect anything!

6:05 PM - An UPDATE:  You know, this morning I gave some thought to this about adding that if anyone would possibly get this it would be Daryl. And for several reasons: 
1. Daryl is very smart (duh!). Have you seen how she writes? How she comments? The only other gals I know that come close to her writing skills and smarts are MPM & CBW. 'Nuff said. 
2. From what I've gathered, Daryl loves old TV shows. 
3. She's  a Manhattanite New Yawk-er, and Manhattan is really close to Brooklyn. 

And what do you get from all of that??? Someone (Daryl) who knows the answer!

It was:

"Ralph Kramden, ala Jackie Gleason"

He was explaining something to Ed Norton and told Ed that it was "a mere bag of shells" - in other words, something inconsequential and not worth the time to discuss, or an indication of a much bigger issue.

I've read that this is also known as a ~Brooklinism~. Hmmm, don't know about that, but do know I love that phrase! And be forewarned - I will be using it often.


  1. No idea. Is it something said by someone famous, or by one of your merry band o'girls?

  2. You stumped me. I have no clue. But the driftwood is nice.

  3. no a clue. hmm...did you google it?

  4. Ralph Kramden ala Jackie Gleason

  5. Is Daryl right? Wouldn't surprise me - she knows so much stuff!

    I've no idea - but it's lovely.

    Kind of sad - kind of cozy and homey all at the same time.

  6. I've never heard it, but it's a great sign.

  7. Hadn't heard it but I do love the Honeymooners.

  8. "A mere bag of shells" was indeed referenced many times by Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners although I've got to believe it's his (mis)understanding of the phrase "a mere bagatelle" meaning something inconsequential. Considering where the character is from - Brooklyn - it's probably something commonly misheard there.

  9. Bagatelle means a trifle; a little thing of no importance. But, bag of shells is an Australian slang for the same thing - a trifle. So both mean the same thing. Brooklyn born Jackie Gleason was more cultured than people thought :).

  10. What's funny is that Stephen A. Smith on 1st and 10 says it all the time. When I head it the first time I always wonder what he meant or where he got it I know!

  11. Recently reading Edgar Allan Poe's humorous short story , The System of Professor Tarr & Mr Fether (1849) . This piece of fiction takes place at private sanatarium in France. The Doctor who runs the asylum uses the expression, "A mere bagatelle" and bagatelle is French to mean a "trifle" or small matter. I believe I heard this expression used by W.C.Fields, before Ralph Kramden used it. I think bag of shells is simply an english corruption of bagatelle.


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