Recently, ns took some joy in the survival of a childhood chant that is generations old and still plants up in the mouths that babes.

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The babe i refer to below is Talia Balsam, an actress of considerable charm, beauty and also talent (not surprisingly, as her hereditary structure is a blend of gibbs Martin Balsam and actress Joyce valve Patten--as sure-fire a shoot of talent as one could wish for). Talia chanted she number in the dressing room the the Santa Monica Playhouse, wherein she and also I were showing up in a play called “And a Nightingale Sang.” i’m still in it, however she isn’t. That an Equity-Waiver production, which method that the actors, who might or might not it is in union members, are acting for no money. Talia yielded to the entice of pelf and also left the play to appear in a movie.

Actors and also actresses don’t, as a rule, see quite so lot of one another’s epidermis as, say, athletes, who share locker rooms and shower facilities, however they execute view one an additional in what, in more strait-laced company, would certainly be understood startling step of undress. That is a rarely actor or actress--especially nowadays--who hasn’t at once or another shared a smallish dressing room with several members the both sexes.

Almost every theaters used to have actually several dressing rooms, or in ~ the very least one because that men and also one for women. Today, v the burgeoning of small Equity-waiver theaters, in numerous dressing rooms bras and also panties are cheek come cheek, so to speak, v Jockey shorts. The Santa Monica Playhouse is to my mind the many charming of all the waiver theatre on the neighborhood scene, however it, too, has actually a unisex dressing room. That a large room, however the scene is not conducive to modesty.

A pair of mainly ago, Talia took me back around 50 years. Kyle Secor, who plays a tall, handsome young brothers soldier, was standing in his briefs and not lot else. Talia, looking at him, sang, “I check out London, I watch France, I see someone’s underpants,” which was pretty funny, because just about all you can see almost everywhere was skin and underpants. And also bras and also slips, the course.

When i was a kid, we sang, “I check out England , I view France . . . .” we had much more respect because that parallelism in my day, i suppose. In bespeak to keep parallelism through “I check out London,” you’d need to follow v “I see Paris.” Paris doesn’t rhyme with countless words. Certainly not “underpants.” If you favor parallelism, “I see England, I see France” is preferable.

I assume we all know the tune to the chant. It’s similar to the song to “Nyahnyah, Nyahnyah, Nyah, Nyah,” but more complex. In any case, the straightforward theme and the track are ones that had actually been hidden in my mind for more than 50 years--at least due to the fact that my family members lived in Jackson Heights, N.Y.; and we moved away from there in 1934.

The “Nyahnyah, Nyahnyah, Nyah, Nyah” tune and also variations on that seem come be straightforward to childhood chants. If she old enough, you could remember a world War II song referred to as “Johnny Zero.” The Zero to be a Japanese fighter plane; Johnny was a young Yank. According to the song, Johnny hadn’t to be any good shakes in school, and also the children had enraged him, chanting, “Johnny acquired a zero! Johnny gained a zero!” introduce to his test scores. Somehow, this nincompoop became an ace fighter pilot in the AAF, and his other pilots all sang, come the “Nyahnyah” tune, “Johnny got a Zero! Johnny acquired a Zero! Johnny acquired a Zero today!”


Goes to display that also the so-called “Good War” didn’t necessarily bring out the finest in us.

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Talia is in she mid-20s, so she most likely learned the underpants song about 20 years ago. Children must still be discovering it from your friends. There’s something marvelous about that sort of continuity. Countless children--I’d guess: v mostly in between the ages of 6 and also 10--evidently happen this chant to one one more as the years pass by. It isn’t learned at Mommy’s knee, like a nursery rhyme. I’ll gambling there are no children’s books, no kindergarten teachers, no camp counselors, no one at all but little children to pass this music gibe about underpants on to other little children v the ages.