October 27, 2015
Taking Chaucer for a Ride...
Thank you belatedly to Jim who wrote: "Ride still carries the same sexual connotation today..." I find this fascinating. I don't know when I first learned that definition for ride. I'm thinking, possibly, The Commitments.
Quick aside: When I was searching for the quote spiraling in my head, I accidentally landed on a page of quotations about love and commitment that were so overwhelmingly sappy I had to flee in the other direction. Which is funny, in a way, because the quote I was searching for is so not. It's this one:
And I don't mean those mushy shite love songs about I'll hold your hand and love you till the end of time. I'm talking about riding: tongues, garters, boxers the works.
So that leads me to today's installment of our Chaucer Book Club, in which I'm going to do a mash-up with my Dirty Etymology posts. Let's talk about riding.
I discovered that the word "ride" dates to Old English, with the definition "to sit or be carried on." To refer to sex, the term dates to the middle thirteenth century. So could the very first literary use be by Chaucer? I'm not sure, but that seems possible.
Another quick aside (because it's that type of morning): In my search, I landed on the definition of "easy rider," which originally meant either an expert horseman or a horse that was easy to ride, but changed over time (in the early 1900s) to mean a freeloader. The term later referred to a woman who practiced free love (in the 1960s)—before being somewhat cooped by the movie Easy Rider to mean a good (usually Harley) motorcycle.
Sorry—I was just off there, learning, for a moment. Okay, so I have now uncovered a whole slew of ride-related sexual terms:
Riding the wave = having a second orgasm right after the first, so that you're "riding the wave" of the initial climax
Rough rider = studded condoms (or, apparently, the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry)
Riding bareback = sex without a condom
Ticket to ride = according to various sources, this refers to prostitutes in Hamburg who received cards assuring that they were safe to have sex with. (I can't tell if this is truth or legend.)
And then I found several misguided posts of curious people asking what "riding" meant. Whether "ride" was actually a sexual term. Which reminded me of the scene in Risky Business where Barry doesn't know that boffing = fucking. (Am I remembering this correctly?)
Oh, and here we have a lovely list of sexual terms, one of which is "Ride a dragon upon St. George" (1698) and "Ride below the crupper" (1578). Those, apparently, come from Green's Dictionary of Slang, which is an expensive three-volume set I would buy if I ever won the lottery.
So there is my pre-dawn morning spent learning new dirty words. Which is a definite boon to me! Please share how you are proceeding with the book. You know, whether or not you're enjoying the... yes... you saw this one a mile away.... ride!
For previous posts on Chaucer, please check out....