The meaning of bicycle

gamboler

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I know that a bicycle is a vehicle that has two wheels and is moved by foot pedals, but I am sure this is not its meaning of the word in this conversation taken from a U.S crime movie released in 1947:


CONVERSATION:
Daisy: What do you think it is? A lover's quarrel?
Larry: Well, if it is, that boy must have a bycicle, but Paris wouldn't.
[when Larry says "that boy" he refers to Jeffrey]


Daisy and Larry are talking of a couple that is arguing in the same bar. They are Margaret (married to Steven) and Jeffrey (married to Paris). Larry is always joking, Daisy is his girlfriend. Steven and Paris are not in the bar.


Obviously, neither Margaret nor Jeffrey have bikes. Jeffrey is a rich plane designer. Margaret doesn't work. We don't know what's the relashionship between them, only that they meet secretly at this bar every now and then. Larry knows who they are.


If "bicycle" is some slang word for "lover", "secret" or "drunken spree", it might make sense, but I haven't found anything to back up this idea. In urban dictionary it says that bicycle can mean "slut", but I doubt that this was a common meaning for the word in the 1940's.


Any clue about what a bicycle could be in this context?
Could it mean "drunken spree", "bender", "blotto", "lover", "prostitute" "secret" or something else?
Remember that the action takes place in 1947.
 

Charlie Bernstein

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I know that a bicycle is a vehicle that has two wheels and is moved by foot pedals, but I am sure this is not its meaning of the word in this conversation taken from a U.S crime movie released in 1947:


CONVERSATION:
Daisy: What do you think it is? A lover's quarrel?
Larry: Well, if it is, that boy must have a bic​ycle, but Paris wouldn't.
[​When Larry says "that boy​," he ​is referring to Jeffrey​.]


Daisy and Larry are talking ​about a couple ​who are arguing in the same bar. They are Margaret (married to Steven) and Jeffrey (married to Paris). Larry is always joking​. Daisy is his girlfriend. Steven and Paris are not in the bar.


Obviously, neither Margaret nor Jeffrey have bikes. Jeffrey is a rich plane designer. Margaret doesn't work. We don't know ​what the relashionship between them ​is, only that they meet secretly at this bar every now and then. Larry knows ​them.


If "bicycle" is some slang word for "lover", "secret" or "drunken spree", it might make sense, but I haven't found anything to back up this idea. In ​Urban ​Dictionary it says that bicycle can mean "slut", but I doubt that this was a common meaning for the word in the 1940's.


Any clue about what a bicycle could be in this context?
Could it mean "drunken spree", "bender", "blotto", "lover", "prostitute" "secret" or something else?
Remember that the action takes place in 1947.

It's not slang. It just means bicycle.

He might be joking that Jeffrey moves fast romantically. It's hard to tell without seeing the movie.
 

gamboler

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Thanks, Charlie Bernstein, for your answer and the corrections, but I have a doubt. You put "who are" instead of "who is" before of the word "couple".
I have found this in the WordReference Forum:

Here in the States when "couple" refers to fiancées or to husband and wife, it takes the third person singular form in the present tense:
A couple is seen through a shop-window near Via Condotti.
When a couple is feeling stressed, humor can be an effective way of breaking through the tension.
A young couple is living together but not married.

Isn't it true?
 

jutfrank

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I have found this in the WordReference Forum:

Here in the States when "couple" refers to fiancées or to husband and wife, it takes the third person singular form in the present tense:

Isn't it true?

Charlie has obviously shown that it's not always true.



With regards to your question about the movie dialogue, could you provide a bit more context? Perhaps the preceding and following lines?

What does Larry mean by "but Paris wouldn't"?
 

GoesStation

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Without more context, I'd guess that Jeffrey would have had to move very quickly between two places in order to have had a lovers' quarrel. A bicycle would have facilitated that.
 

gamboler

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IMPORTANT:
Now I've got a copy of the script:
The two real sentences are:

DAISY: What do you think it is, a lover's quarrel?
LARRY MORGAN: Well, if it is, that boy must have a bicycle, what with Paris Wood?


I remind you that "the boy" is Jeffrey (not a boy but a grown man in his forties) and that Paris Wood is his wife.
Neither of them have a bicycle. Here the context tells us that "a bicycle" must mean "a double life":
Jeffrey (the boy) has a bicycle (a double life). What will Paris Wood (his wife) think of that?


Are you for or against my opinion?

The Library of the Iowa State University has a copy of this script.
 

jutfrank

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I'm pretty confident that your suggestion that "bicycle" means 'double life' is not correct.

But I don't have a better suggestion. I still think there's context we're lacking.
 

gamboler

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jutfrank asked me to post the preceding and following lines.


Here they are:


Margaret: I wouldn't ask you if I weren't desperate. You'll just have to get it for me. Tonight.
Jeffrey: Tonight? Don't be silly! You'd better try something else. I can't do anything.
Margaret: You mean you're going to let me down? After all I've done for you!

Daisy and Larry are far enough to hear what they said.


Change of scene. Now the conversation between Daisy and Larry.
Daisy: What do you think it is? A lover's quarrel?
Larry: Well, if it is, that boy must have a bicycle, what with Paris Wood?



After that, Steve (Margaret's husband) enters the club.


Larry: Uh-oh, more company.


There is a fight between Steve and Jeffrey, Jeffrey falls to the ground, Margaret cries and Steve and his wife Margaret leave the club.
End of scene.
 

jutfrank

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Thanks for posting the extra lines. Unfortunately, they don't help, though.
 

gamboler

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jutfrank, maybe it is some old-fashioned slang of the forties. I am pretty confident that here bicycle must mean "double life" or maybe "lover". No other meaning would make sense in the context.
 

jutfrank

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jutfrank, maybe it is some old-fashioned slang of the forties. I am pretty confident that here bicycle must mean "double life" or maybe "lover". No other meaning would make sense in the context.

Well, your suggestion certainly makes sense in the given context. You may be right.
 

GoesStation

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jutfrank, maybe it is some old-fashioned slang of the forties. I am pretty confident that here bicycle must mean "double life" or maybe "lover". No other meaning would make sense in the context.

That just doesn't feel likely to me. I think yet more context will reveal that Jeffrey would have had to be in two places at nearly the same time in order for him to have had a quarrel with Paris at the time the characters are talking about. Larry is pointing this out.
 

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IMPORTANT:
Now I've got a copy of the script:
The two real sentences are:

DAISY: What do you think it is, a lover's quarrel?
LARRY MORGAN: Well, if it is, that boy must have a bicycle, what with Paris Wood?

I remind you that "the boy" is Jeffrey (not a boy but a grown man in his forties) and that Paris Wood is his wife.
Neither of them have a bicycle. Here the context tells us that "a bicycle" must mean "a double life":
Jeffrey (the boy) has a bicycle (a double life). What will Paris Wood (his wife) think of that?

"A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English" (1982) by Eric Partridge has the entry: bicycle. A prostitute: esp. teenagers' since ca. 1940.
Other slang terms like "town bike" also refer to what are sometimes called "loose women". The online Urban Dictionary has similar examples.

To me, the question mark after 'Paris Wood' doesn't make sense, although an exclamation mark would. The phrase "what with Paris Wood" is more likely to mean "considering that he has a wife", or possibly "bearing in mind what we know about his wife".

Perhaps the meaning is something like: "Well, if it is (a lovers' quarrel), the boy must be with a mistress, considering that he has a wife!".

However, as others have said, only with more context can we be sure.
 

Tdol

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Bicycle did have the meaning of a sexually promiscuous woman at one point- because anyone could ride (have sex) a bike. I am not sure that this is the case here- how old is this dialogue?
 

gamboler

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I second JMurray's opinion. Note: The question mark after "Wood" is not in the original shooting script. It's written this way: "what with Paris Wood--"
Tdol: Movie released in 1947.
More context: Larry suspects that Margaret has had another lover (a deceased doctor), so it's possible that this could be the reason to call her a bicycle (a promiscuous woman). [If Margaret is Jeffrey's lover, it would be the second time that she has a lover, so she is a bicycle]
 
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Tdol

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Gamboler, then it is possible that this is the meaning of bicycle.
 

GoesStation

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Tdol: Movie released in 1947.
More context: Larry suspects that Margaret has had another lover (a deceased doctor), so it's possible that this could be the reason to call her a bicycle (a promiscuous woman). [If Margaret is Jeffrey's lover, it would be the second time that she has a lover, so she is a bicycle]
If this is an American film, it was shot during the heyday of the Hays code, a strict censorship regime that prohibited all sorts of images and references that might have given Mr. Hays the vapors. That's why all married couples in films of the era sleep in separate beds and women's navels were always concealed.

Screenwriters and directors delighted in finding ways to slip things past the censors, so now I have to concede that bicycle was probably meant that way.
 

Charlie Bernstein

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Thanks, Charlie Bernstein, for your answer and the corrections, but I have a doubt. You put "who are" instead of "who is" before of the word "couple".

Guilty.

I have found this in the WordReference Forum:

Here in the States when "couple" refers to fiancées or to husband and wife, it takes the third person singular form in the present tense:
A couple is seen through a shop-window near Via Condotti.
When a couple is feeling stressed, humor can be an effective way of breaking through the tension.
A young couple is living together but not married.

Isn't it true?

It is true.

I hang my head in shame.
 
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