Posts Tagged ‘firkin merkin Lucy Lawless Kate Winslet

Five Words That Rhyme With Firkin

- May 17th, 2010

For starters, what the frickin frack is a firkin anyway?

I know it’s part of the name of a chain of pubs — the Firkin & Mongoose, Firkin & Cowpie, Firkin & Bleeding Ulcer, etc. — but  that means about as much as Abercrombie & Fitch.

(For the record, a fitch is a European polecat.)

I always figured a firkin for a thistle or sheaf of wheat or something farm-related.

Nope, but it is definitely pub-related.

large_firkin_bg

A firkin is an Old English unit of measurement for a quarter-barrel cask of beer or ale. A firkin should hold nine Imperial gallons or, at a drinking level, 72 pints.

So now we know what a firkin is.

Now try to think of five words that rhyme with firkin. It’s hard. Granted, “firkin” is no “orange” when it comes to rhyming  matches, but it’s sure not love-dove-glove-shove-above either.

(And no, you can’t just drop the “g” off words ending in “ing” to get a rhyme:  Workin’ and Perkin’ and the like just don’t cut it.)

So here are five words that DO rhyme with Firkin:

1602-WalterRaleighandson

1. Jerkin

A jerkin is a short man’s jacket  — not a jacket on a short man, but a short jacket on any man —from the Renaissance. It was generally made of leather and was worn over a doublet shirt. Sometimes accompanied by a codpiece. The jerkin made a comeback in World Wars I and II as a British (and Canadian)  military vest, usually made of leather and lined with wool.

2. Gherkin

That’s gherkin as in pickle, but I was surprised to learn the gherkin is not a cucumber anymore than it is a watermelon. Gherkins, cucumbers and watermelons all belong to the same plant family (and they’re all technically fruits and gourds) but they’re all different. Cucumbers and gherkins are supposed to have originated in India before migrating to Europe, either through trade or with Alexander the Great’s returning armies.

Now things are getting a little dicey. I’m stretching a point with a couple of these, so give me one out of three:

3 (a). Durkan

A type of patterned rug.

3 (b). Kerkin

A mountain range also known as Belasica in Macedonia.

3 (c). Yerkin

According to the Urban Dictionary, it’s a euphemism for “penis.” I know, I know, mankind has probably come up with 10,000 alternate words for “penis” but don’t blame me — I didn’t invent it and I didn’t put it in the Urban Dictionary.

4. Zircon

Now I know this one’s a stretch too, but it all depends on how you pronounce “zircon.” Besides, zircons are sort of interesting. Zircons are naturally occurring silicate crystals found all over the world, and they are the oldest minerals so far dated on earth. Zircons are not to be confused with cubic zirconia, a synthetic substance used to substitute for diamonds. Zircons are also used as diamond substitutes but come in a wide range of colours. Some of the largest zircon crystals — up to a foot in length — have been found in Eastern Ontario. Renfrew County is a hotbed of zircons, but you can find them around Bancroft, Perth and Haliburton too.

And we finally come to the whole reason of this blog post.

5. Merkin

I was looking up an M word in an online dictionary on the weekend when I came across “merkin.”

Believe me, I was astounded.

What, you ask, is a merkin?

You could have the surprise of looking it up yourself, but I’m going to tell you.

A merkin is a pubic wig. In other words (actually much the same words, but in a different order), it’s a wig to cover the pubic area of the human body.

I have enough trouble taking head wigs seriously, but a PUBIC wig? Laugh, I thought I’d die.

Turns out merkins first raised their heads, so to speak, in the Renaissance when body lice were rampant and people started shaving off their body hair so the little critters had no place to hide. Both men and women took to wearing head wigs and pubic wigs when they wanted to look good in public/pubic.

Prostitutes also wore merkins to cover up sores and other unpleasantness resulting from venereal diseases they had contracted.

Now flash forward 500 years or so.

Merkins are still in use today. There is at least one online business, www.merkinworld.com, that sells them  (I suspect it’s British, since the prices are in pounds).

Who’s the market? Beats me, but they’re being worn — maybe as a fashion accessory like an eyepatch or temporary tattoo.

Here’s the link to the Wikipedia entry on “Merkin.” It tells you — and shows you — far more than I  really want to here.

One place they are used a lot is in the movies, for a variety of reasons — coverup, disguise, whatever.

Probably the most striking recent example is the use of a merkin by actress Kate Winslet in the 2008 movie The Reader, for which Winslet won the Best Actress Academy Award.

winslet

Winslet told Allure magazine that, because the film was set just after World War II, her “landing strip” style of pubic hair maintenance just wouldn’t cut it, so to speak, in her many nude scenes.

(Again, I’m not going into what a “landing strip” is  but if you don’t know, you can find out for yourself by going to the “Bikini waxing” entry in Wikipedia. Be warned: It’s quite explicit, so I’m not even adding a link to it here.)

Anyway, here’s what Winslet told Allure about her merkin:

“The film is set in the ’50s, I couldn’t have just had a landing strip! I had to grow the hair down there. But because of years of waxing, as all of us girls know, it doesn’t come back quite the way it used to. They even made me a merkin – a wig – because they were so concerned that I might not be able to grow enough.”

Apparently it worked well enough to garner her that Oscar.

Actress Amy Landecker said she had to wear a merkin for the same reason as Winslet — current down-under styles are much different from the wild and wooly period look prevalent in the 1960s, the timeframe for Landecker’s sunbathing scene in the Coen Brothers’ film A Serious Man.

Even former Xena star Lucy Lawless was fitted for a merkin for her nude scenes in the new cable TV series Spartacus.

Here’s the link to a TV interview with Lawless on YouTube discussing her merkin experience.

Now maybe I got a little obsessive digging into the whole merkin thing, but the concept of someone wearing a pubic wig just blew me away. Humans are very strange creatures and I find the study of their activities endlessly fascinating. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Stop smirkin’.