[Vocabulary] seventeen going on forty-five

emp0608

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Hi folks,

I've come across the expression in The English Girl (Daniel Silva) in the sentence: "Then he rode the elevator down to the lobby, accompanied by a couple of prostitutes, seventeen going on forty-five."

Does anyone know where it comes from? There seems to be a similar expression: thirteen going on thirty, but this one contains an alliteration, at least.

Thanks as always.

emp0608
 

Raymott

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I have always interpreted it the other way. The prostitutes are really 17, but they have enough life experience and are worn out enough that they could almost pass for 45-year olds (no offence to 45-year olds!).

I've just advised someone not to use sites like this where anyone can answer. I agree with the "best answer". You can see how some answers are completely clueless though:
https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071124223206AA7x1me


 
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emp0608

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Thanks, Piscean & Raymot.
Two different interpretations, very interesting.
But what I was curious about was why 45. I would have chosen, 30 or 35. It would sound better.
 

Skrej

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Thanks, Piscean & Raymot.
Two different interpretations, very interesting.
But what I was curious about was why 45. I would have chosen, 30 or 35. It would sound better.

You could choose any two numbers you wish - the idea is that there's a significant difference between their actual age and the age they act or appear.

Without trying to sound too crass, I think the idea in the original is that a 45 year old woman is more "worn out" or (euphemistically) "experienced" than the 30 year old one you suggest. The idea seems to be that although the two girls are actually fairly young, they've lived a life which has rapidly aged them beyond their physical years.

Of course, the irony is that an perverse older man might stereotypically hire youthful looking girls to feel young himself, so there's a bit of irony here that although he did actually hire some underage girls, they were metaphorically closer to his own age.
 
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