Pimps, Prostitutes, and Smart Alecks

Pimps and Prostitutes…these two groups of individuals cut quite a swath in our English imagination, folklore, and commonly used phrases.

One commonly used phrase that has Pimp and Prostitute origins is “Smart Aleck.”

I recently was referred to as a ‘Smart Aleck’ and have been called one many times in my life. I had not heard that term in a while…but have many, many times in MY past.

Maybe the first, and several there after, was when backhanded by my disciplinarian mother. She would say something to the effect, “…Everybody hates a ‘smart aleck’!” OR, “I don’t want you to grow up to be a ‘smart aleck’!”

Well the backhand technique apparently did not work. I turned into a royal, quick-mouthed ‘smart aleck’ deluxe. I did come by it naturally since a large portion of the relatives on my mothers side, mostly male, are the court jester ‘smart aleck’ types as well.

Now with this recent hurling of this particular well deserved, moniker, I got to wondering where in the world did that term come from…You know, to be a ‘Smart Aleck.”

With a few keystrokes, I found that the term apparently originated with the activities of Alec Hoag (Probably related to the famous San Antonio crazy preacher! Or is his name Hagee, either way he is nuts!) And his wife Melinda with the help of an accomplice called, “French Jack.”

Alec was a pimp and Melinda was a prostitute. (Sounds like a song title, or first line in a song to me) I guess “French Jack” just hung around for the proverbial, ‘seconds’ so to speak. Alec and his voluptuous wife designed a con referred to as the “panel game.”

They would lure customers into Melinda’s quarters and after she wore them out with her ‘feminine wiles’ they (customers) would often drift into a ‘relieved’ slumber.
Then, a fake panel would silently slide open and “Smart” Alec and ‘French Jack’ would steal the unsuspecting fellow’s valuables.

Apparently, before “Smart” Alec devised this method of lifting monies, pimps would just break the door down…waking the customer and then having to wrestle for the goods. The patrons of the flesh learned to prop chairs against the doors to stop the unannounced entry of the girl go-betweens, thus foiling a pimp’s display of manliness by breaking in the door!

Seems to me…I mean, I can not figure why a customer of a prostitute and pimp felt like he needed to take a nap after his carnal adventure. Think about it, it generally is not a great idea to nap around shysters and ruffians.

Now Chinese folks had been having sliding panels for centuries…so maybe ol’ “Smart” Alec” had put two and two together after he visited ‘china town’ sucking on the opium pipe. He woke up, had an epiphany and thought, …”hey, I think I like these fake wall thingy’s!”

Now if you agree with prostitution or not, most countries, even the ones where prostitution is legal, outlaw the activity of pimping. Yes, brothers and sisters, the very loosy goosy Netherlands has a law that prohibits pimping…so do not say, “ Last time I was in Amsterdam I met this pimp who was the coolest fellow!” You may have, but pimping is illegal, even in the Netherlands.

So old “Smart Alec” was caught and ousted back around the 1840’s and his fraud shown the light of day. Some folks admired his ingenuity and complex arithmetic like carpentry skills…thus the term, “Smart Aleck.”

What happened to the wonderful Melinda or ‘French Jack’ who knows.

Maybe Melinda and ol’ Frenchy’ ran off together and created another term some have heard, some have used, and some have enjoyed…The French Tickler!

I know, I know…I have to stop being such a ‘smart aleck!’

About joelmeltonwords

songwriter, composer, lyricist, essayist, and performer www.joelmelton.com
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