Fenwich, come here, I need you

There’s Fenwick, and then there’s Fenwich, a Zippy name to conjure with: used as a narrative semi-generic address term, and in explicit discussions of names and their uses.

Background on this blog…

— In the 8/14/14 posting “Tumble Inn, Stan”, on the generic address term Stan < the proper name:

Zippy is using Stan as an all-purpose address term for a man, for someone whose actual name is unknown or unimportant (palbuddy, and some other nouns are also used this way, trading on the use of these as affectionate address terms). Other men’s names, in particular Charlie, are used this way on occasion, and in fact Zippy is given to this usage, especially in diners.

Similarly, Joe, used especially for military men (< G.I. Joe) and for countermen in diners (< the generic diner name Joe’s Diner, “a placeholder name for a fictional or hypothetical everyman’s restaurant” (Wikipedia)), but more generally as well.

— In the 4/3/17 posting “Sparky, Jasper, Bunky”, on three generic address terms: Sparky < adj. sparky ‘lively, high-spirited’; Jasper < the proper name; Bunky < noun bunky ‘bunkmate’.

[Digression on my life. Bear with me; there will, eventually, be address terms in this digression.

For a year now, I’ve suffered from severe shortness of breath under exertion, and can only wak about half a block before having to stop and catch my breath (I have a phalanx of physicians on the case, but for now it’s an intriguing medical mystery). So I pause, holding onto a pole or leaning against the side of a building, while I rest. I try to look upbeat and competent, but still a remarkable number of people — perfect strangers — stop to ask if I need help.  (Both men and women, possibly reflecting different gender stereotypes: women are expected to care for others, men are expected to fix things.) This is heartening.

On Friday, on the way up the street to deposit a check at an ATM, I was passed on the sidewalk by a guy on a bicycle who was raving and ranting quite loudly to himself. He stopped at the ATM, and I retreated to the side of a building, to catch my breath and to avoid Cycle Guy. Another guy, maybe 50, observing all this, stopped and asked me if I needed help. I explained that I just needed to catch my breath, and wanted to stay out of the way of Cycle Guy, but I was still wheezing quite audibly, so Samaritan was unconvinced and pressed his offer of help. I thanked him, cited my phalanx of physicians and said I’d be ok in a moment, and he accepted that — then crossed the street to avoid Cycle Guy himself.

Cycle Guy left the ATM, so I resumed my trek, but then he turned around and rode straight at me. And paused to address me: “Hey, Pop, you in trouble?” I briefly reassured him, he went on, shouting loudly at the world.

GDoS on noun-3 pop:

1 one’s father. [1st cite 1838] 2 an older, respected man; often as a nickname. [1st cite 1844 pop Miller] 3 a term of address for an old man. [1885 See here, pop. Later spellings as Pop] [similarly Pops; old man and old-timer are similarly used, but not treated orthographically as proper names]

I am officially, publicly, an old man. My first actual experience as pop / Pop.]

— In the 5/14/18 posting “Fenwick the semi-generic”, on generic personal names (like Joe) and narrative semi-generic names (place-holding proper names in narratives, in particular Fenwick in Zippy strips) — especially as used in address

[Another digression, on the title of this posting, “Fenwich, come here, I need you”. My play on a standard misquotation. From the Wikipedia entry on Alexander Graham Bell:

Mr. Watson — Come here — I want to see you. First intelligible words spoken over the telephone (10 March 1876), as recorded in Bell’s Journal entry (10 March 1876). These are often misquoted as “Mr. Watson, come here, I want you.”

The misquotation is so much better.]

Fenwiching in Zippy. Nine strips from over the years. In a bunch, with the ones having an address use of Fenwich — almost all of them –asterisked.

8/20/94: Griffy decides to become “P. Sylvester Fenwich”, presumably because he thinks that’s a really funny name:




*9/4/07 with “Mrs. Fenwich”:


12/22/10, on word attraction.  Zippy: “our joint fascination with th’ words Fenwich, flywheel and frown line” / Zerbina: “Fenwich, Flywheel & Frown Line — my favorite Wall Street law firm!”:


*11/24/12, more word attraction: about the “magical” name Fenwich; the name Lenwood in address is also magical, at least to Zippy:




[A side note. “Gabba – gabba – gabardine” in the last panel is a Zippy-dense play on “Gabba gabba hey”. From Wikipedia:

“Gabba Gabba Hey” is a catchphrase associated with the punk rock band the Ramones. The phrase is included in the song “Pinhead” (1977), which contains the lyrics: “Gabba gabba, we accept you, we accept you, one of us.” The song ends with: “Gabba gabba hey, gabba gabba hey!…”

The “Gabba gabba” chant is from Tod Browning’s 1932 film Freaks, whose characters include the pinhead Schlitzie, Bill Griffith’s model for Zippy. See my  1/7/11 posting“A famous pinhead”.]

*1/5/18 – set in the diner Fenwich Fountain ‘n’ Stuff (whose real-world model I haven’t been able to find). Bonus: tuna melt (on tuna melts, see the 5/07/15 posting “Return to Norms” ):


*5/14/18, #1 in the posting “Fenwick the semi-generic”:




Note that the client’s name is Pundit Fixer, but Mr. The Toad addresses him with generic Fenwich.

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