Three Wise Guys: Mattress Stores, Ads in the Metro, Crying 'Uncle' and a Response to Last Week's Pig Roasters

By Joe Heim, Justin Rude and Dan Zak
Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dear Wise Guys:

I have long wondered why there are so many mattress stores in this area. There are six in a two-block stretch on both sides of Rockville Pike. And two of them are the same company on the same side of the road! For a product that most people buy every 10 to 15 years, do we need a store on every corner? What is the attraction to a product that is so boring?


Joe: Beds are boring, Jim? I'm not sure we can help you with that. I checked in with Dan and Justin, and each of us goes through three to five beds a month. I even have one of those punch cards from my favorite mattress store.

Dan: One more bed, and I get a free foot-long sub.

Dear Wise Guys:

I was riding the Red Line recently when I noticed a cool ad for the International Spy Museum. It said something along the lines of "Other museums have treasures, most of our stuff is stolen," with a picture of satellite dishes on it. I know Metro won't keep that ad up forever. I was wondering how I could get my hands on it so I could hang it in my house. (I like to collect kitschy ads.) I hope the answer isn't classified!


Justin: Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein says it's all up to the company that owns the ad. "Sometimes the people who purchase those ads and produce them want to keep them, and sometimes they don't," she says. "If somebody was interested in getting one . . ., they will need to contact the vendor that we use who posts them up for us." That vendor would be CBS Outdoor ( Good luck with your Spy Museum ad.

Joe: I wonder if Metro gives discounts for ads with smoke damage.

Dear Wise Guys:

Why do people say "I'm going to make you cry 'uncle' " when they are looking for submission from an opponent? Could it be that it started with two cousins fighting at dinner? Probably not, but got any better ideas?

Suzanne and Karl

Dan: One doesn't cry "uncle." One cries "U.N.C.L.E.," as in "The Man From . . . ." This idiom stems from a clever marketing ploy used by NBC to promote the '60s TV series starring Robert Vaughn. Children were instructed to cry "U.N.C.L.E.!" while losing a fight to prompt the aggressor to stop throwing punches and say, "What do you mean, 'uncle'?" At this point, the bullied would start his pitch about this really cool show about spies, and soon both he and his bully would be carrying on about James Bond and mini rocket cigarettes. Both would wind up in front of the tube, the discord would be calmed and "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." would have one more dedicated viewer.

Justin: NBC should revisit that marketing strategy. I can just see the kids in my neighborhood yelling "Chuck!"

Joe: Back on Earth, I actually looked at this question seriously and couldn't find where saying "uncle" comes from. If anyone knows the origin of the idiom, e-mail us with "uncle" in the subject line. Correct (or fanciful) explanations are welcome.

Dear Wise Guys:

In reference to the immature, alcoholic pig roasters [in the June 15 column], what would your advice have been if they were going to roast a dog (and put his head on a stick in the front yard)? For people capable of reasoned logic rather than blind adherence to tradition, there is no difference between roasting a pig or a dog.

As a vegan (shouldn't you have checked with one?), I would not be the least bit appreciative of any warning. That is basically saying, "We expect you to be offended but lack consideration and are going to do it anyway." I would suggest they ditch the get-together until these people grow up, as these drunken gatherings might cause attendees to hook up and have children they are not mature enough, or compassionate enough, to raise.

Vegan Guy

Joe: I've never had roasted dog, but my guess is that it wouldn't taste nearly as good as roasted pig. That, however, seems a question of flavor rather than logic. Still, we agree that it's a bit unseemly to put the pig's head on a stake just for the sake of tradition .

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