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Meaning: With the girls be handy?

DigiTrad:
BEAR CREEK BLUES
BUMP ME INTO PARLIAMENT
CHESTER
COLUMBUS' SONG
CONFEDERATE YANKEE DOODLE
FAIR AND FREE ELECTIONS
FLIGHT OF DOODLES
HARRISON BRADY
MONITOR AND MERRIMAC
NEW YANKEE DOODLE
SHANNON AND CHESAPEAKE
THE BATTLE OF THE NILE
THE RECESS
THE SHOEMAKER'S SONG
WORLD TURNED UPSIDEDOWN (BUTTERCUPS)
YANKEE DOODLE


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: Yankee Doodle - an old source (21)
Lyr Req: Parody of Yankee Doodle Dandy (6)
Lyr Req: Civil war Yankee Doodle (13)
Bawdy Northumbrian 'Yankee Doodle' song (14)
Origins: Yankee Doodle (24)


Senoufou 03 Apr 18 - 03:40 AM
GUEST,keberoxu 02 Apr 18 - 07:41 PM
Bat Goddess 02 Apr 18 - 07:10 PM
GUEST,Diane 02 Apr 18 - 12:55 PM
Helen 18 Jan 18 - 11:29 AM
meself 17 Jan 18 - 06:44 PM
Lighter 17 Jan 18 - 03:04 PM
Helen 17 Jan 18 - 01:54 PM
Lighter 16 Jan 18 - 01:39 PM
GUEST,DrWord 16 Jan 18 - 01:28 PM
meself 16 Jan 18 - 01:08 PM
Lighter 16 Jan 18 - 09:48 AM
GUEST,paperback 15 Jan 18 - 08:41 PM
GUEST,paperback 15 Jan 18 - 02:49 PM
meself 15 Jan 18 - 10:52 AM
Lighter 15 Jan 18 - 10:08 AM
Dave Hanson 15 Jan 18 - 02:44 AM
Gurney 14 Jan 18 - 08:46 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 12 Jan 18 - 02:10 PM
Thompson 11 Jan 18 - 04:02 AM
robomatic 11 Jan 18 - 12:29 AM
Acme 10 Jan 18 - 09:46 PM
GUEST,Lou Judson 10 Jan 18 - 09:24 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 10 Jan 18 - 07:17 PM
Helen 10 Jan 18 - 03:50 PM
meself 10 Jan 18 - 03:38 PM
GUEST,paperback 10 Jan 18 - 03:35 PM
Helen 10 Jan 18 - 03:07 PM
GUEST 10 Jan 18 - 12:46 PM
meself 10 Jan 18 - 10:56 AM
Helen 10 Jan 18 - 09:39 AM
Steve Gardham 10 Jan 18 - 08:38 AM
GUEST,Dannosuke 09 Jan 18 - 11:18 PM
GUEST,Nick King 14 Apr 16 - 01:51 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Oct 11 - 04:28 PM
Gurney 06 Oct 11 - 03:01 PM
Lighter 06 Oct 11 - 01:58 PM
Bill D 06 Oct 11 - 01:48 PM
Lighter 06 Oct 11 - 01:17 PM
Bert 06 Oct 11 - 12:53 PM
Acme 06 Oct 11 - 12:24 PM
Lighter 06 Oct 11 - 12:13 PM
pdq 06 Oct 11 - 11:38 AM
Lighter 06 Oct 11 - 09:45 AM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Oct 11 - 09:35 AM
Lighter 06 Oct 11 - 07:51 AM
Ross Campbell 06 Oct 11 - 07:27 AM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Oct 11 - 07:14 AM
GUEST,Guest Parent 06 Oct 11 - 02:05 AM
CapriUni 22 Jun 11 - 01:46 PM
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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Senoufou
Date: 03 Apr 18 - 03:40 AM

That's interesting keberoxu, because I've used 'deedy' all my life. It's often heard here in Norfolk, but also in West London in the fifties. It does, as you say, mean the same as 'handy' - useful, capable etc.

Our village shop is looked on as being 'handy' (It's closed at the moment for refurbishment, and we're all saying it'll be handy when it re-opens) In that context it means 'close at hand'.

We also say a gadget can be 'handy', for example I recently bought a tickling-stick duster from a door-to-door lad. It's very handy for getting behind radiators and the tops of curtain rails.
(The lad was a Nottingham Knocker though, and a bit of a crook!)


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 02 Apr 18 - 07:41 PM

In Regency literature, both of its time
and the 20th-century homages
by such authors as Georgette Heyer,

a frequent adjective is "deedy,"
and I understand it to mean
the same thing some posts on this thread
suggest for "handy."
capability, capacity.

"Deedy," however,
is an adjective I NEVER hear outside the Regency literary context,
while "handy" persists at least in compounds like "handy man."
(Which last reminds me of a blues by Alberta Hunter,
but that's real suggestive stuff.)


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 02 Apr 18 - 07:10 PM

From NPR in 2005 --

Reason Behind the Rhyme

Chris Roberts, author of "Heavy Words Lightly Thrown" says, "One of the many versions ran like this. It goes: 'Yankee Doodle, keep it up. Yankee Doodle, dandy. Mind the music and the step and with the girls be handy.' And this particular version was sung by predominantly the British as a reminder to our American friends that dance steps in Europe and in America, the colonies as it was, were different. And it's a reminder to check you doing the steps right and that you're holding the girl in the correct way, which is--so that's one variation of--apparently, there are hundreds and the book could have been devoted entirely to that."

Basically reminding the provincial colonists that it takes more effort than sticking a feather in one's hat to make one fashionable, and it takes study and practice to do fashionable dance steps as well.

Linn


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: GUEST,Diane
Date: 02 Apr 18 - 12:55 PM

On hand. Readily available.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Helen
Date: 18 Jan 18 - 11:29 AM

Yes, meself, the word was handy so the lyricist picked it up and put it in the song. LOL


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: meself
Date: 17 Jan 18 - 06:44 PM

It was handy, in other words ... !


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Lighter
Date: 17 Jan 18 - 03:04 PM

Not too many words rhyme with "dandy," and "handy" may have been the easiest to build into a line.

("Randy" has not been found before 1771, according to Oxford.)


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Helen
Date: 17 Jan 18 - 01:54 PM

I'm with you, Lighter. I still think that the word was chosen, over other more specific or contextually appropriate words, mainly because it rhymes with "Dandy" so it fits the rhyme of the lyrics.

I referred to the line from the Red Green Show before on 10 Jan 18 - 09:39 AM, and the word "handy" makes sense in that context. There is probably some intentional double meaning for comedy effect, but essentially it relates to the handyman's skills and knowledge.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Lighter
Date: 16 Jan 18 - 01:39 PM

"Handy with an axe" sounds fine to me, but "handy with the girls," while understandable, sounds a little weird.

But it may not have 250 years ago.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: GUEST,DrWord
Date: 16 Jan 18 - 01:28 PM

Have not perused entire thread, although I probably read the OP and immediate responses. Often curious about thread resurrection. Thanks, all and sundry, for your dandy 2018 updates.
keep on pickin
dennis


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: meself
Date: 16 Jan 18 - 01:08 PM

In Canada, I don't think anyone would be baffled if you said something like, "He's pretty handy with an axe" - whether you prefer that as a synonym for 'skillful' or 'clever', the difference is so fine as to be negligible, and either fits 'Yankee Doodle'. I'm really baffled over all the bafflement about this word and its usage.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Lighter
Date: 16 Jan 18 - 09:48 AM

And since YD is advised to "Mind the music and the step," I assume we're also supposed to think he's a foppish and effeminate fun-lover.

It could well be that "with the girls be handy" imply "cleverly ingratiate yourself with the girls," as at a ball. Just a guess.

Otherwise, I agree that "handy," at least in America, is an everyday term meaning skillful (at something) or (also) readily available.

But it no longer means "clever," which may account for some of the uncertainty.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: GUEST,paperback
Date: 15 Jan 18 - 08:41 PM

Now about that usurper Yankees Doodle


I know only two tunes: one of them is 'Yankee Doodle', and the other one isn't. -U.S. Grant


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: GUEST,paperback
Date: 15 Jan 18 - 02:49 PM

>Since Yankee Doodle is a "dandy" (a fop), his proper place is "with the girls," ready to be "handy" (deft or available) - but only when required.

Well that explains the pony


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: meself
Date: 15 Jan 18 - 10:52 AM

Is "handy" not in common use in some places? It's a term I've heard and used all my life, and there is nothing remotely unusual in the way it's used in this ditty ... ?


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Lighter
Date: 15 Jan 18 - 10:08 AM

Since Yankee Doodle is a "dandy" (a fop), his proper place is "with the girls," ready to be "handy" (deft or available) - but only when required.

At least that's how I read it.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 15 Jan 18 - 02:44 AM

It's very similar to a line in the shanty ' Paddy Lay Back '

' Bout ship stations boys be handy '
' for we're bound for Valaparaiso round the horn '

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Gurney
Date: 14 Jan 18 - 08:46 PM

Halliwell's Dictionary of Archaic Words, 1850: Handy. Ready, Expert, Clever.
Various dialects.
That's English dialects, of course.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 12 Jan 18 - 02:10 PM

&fyi: On explaining any military cadence lyrics to civilians, the traditional opening line is "I don't know, but I've been told..."


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Thompson
Date: 11 Jan 18 - 04:02 AM

Dunno about sarcastic - there's such a thing as affectionate ribbing.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: robomatic
Date: 11 Jan 18 - 12:29 AM

Yeah, this thread really needed to be revivified to chase down 'handy'!

In any case, the Yankee Doodle lyrics in this thread are not the original lyrics, which were penned as a sarcastic look at New England colonists who were considered at most bumpkins.

The Yankee Doodle lyrics sung 99.9% of the time were the American riposte to the original song and are meant to be complimentary.

I think the use of the term 'handy' can be deduced by context, as in, be attractive to the opposite sex, in this case, girls.

I have a cassette tape from the U.S. Bicentennial era where my Massachusetts town did many celebratory things, two of the most imaginative being:

1) To put up street signs so we could all at last identify and spell the names of the many roads we knew only instinctively.
2) Put out a lovely tape of colonial era songs sung by locals and invaders. One thing they did, was paste new lyrics on existing music, both because it was easier to come up with lyrics than tunes and also because it was a form of one-upmanship between the revolutionists and the tories.
Those original lyrics were not above powerful sexual innuendo but in this case I don't think we have a case.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Acme
Date: 10 Jan 18 - 09:46 PM

You're probably over-thinking that, Lou. And it certainly isn't going to be the answer Sheila will give that curious five-year-old!


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: GUEST,Lou Judson
Date: 10 Jan 18 - 09:24 PM

Might I be quite literal from my own experience? If you are "handy" at getting her off she will not get pregnant, using your hands. And it is less messy. even with clothes on!

Yank that doodle, think about it.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 10 Jan 18 - 07:17 PM

Kind of hard to say when you don't know who is doing the writing and/or the singing ain't it? But anyway...

"Handy" to a soldier is proficient ie: Handy with a musket.

"Handy" to a sailor is convenient or readily at hand ie: A handy billy or tackle.

Both "doodle" and the "handy dandy" were references to getting fooled by the 'ol switcher (riddley) ro(o). Expectation-v-result &c.

When an 18th-19th century Yankee used them it might have been more along the lines of the supposed Cornwallis The World Turned Upside Down fiasco (also mostly Yank urban legend.)


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Helen
Date: 10 Jan 18 - 03:50 PM

Yes, but the word "handy" is rarely used in that context, so it has a certain "square peg in a round hole" air about it, in my opinion. There was probably a better word but that word didn't rhyme with Dandy.

In the context of the revelations over the past few years of sexual misconduct by people in power or by celebrities, the word "handy" and the word "randy" seem to go hand in hand. Pun intended.

randy - and other Oz slang words


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: meself
Date: 10 Jan 18 - 03:38 PM

To my mind it does seem to "fit the contextual meaning of the lyrics" of the chorus quite neatly. See the opening few posts of this thread.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: GUEST,paperback
Date: 10 Jan 18 - 03:35 PM

Maybe handy was a better choice then the edgier randy.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Helen
Date: 10 Jan 18 - 03:07 PM

Well Guest, the line with the word "handy" does not especially fit the contextual meaning of the lyrics or that particular verse, however it does rhyme with Dandy, so maybe it was just put in there because the lyricist could not find a better phrase ending with a word rhyming with Dandy.

Other poets have scrabbled for rhyming words and had to make do with a line which was suboptimal. Better poets may more often arrive at beautifully crafted solutions but this song appears to have been written for a more popular audience as a tool to mock the Yankee Dandies.

Who can say?

If it gives an anonymous guest a laugh, perhaps it has achieved its purpose.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Jan 18 - 12:46 PM

I love Mudcat, the way people take a phrase out of the context of the song and read all sorts of obviously irrelevant meanings into it. Always good for a laugh.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: meself
Date: 10 Jan 18 - 10:56 AM

If I say, It's a sunny day, there are multiple possibilities of meaning - but one meaning is obvious, and it just makes sense to take the obvious meaning, unless there is some compelling reason not to. Occam's razor, and all that .....


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Helen
Date: 10 Jan 18 - 09:39 AM

It reminds me of The Red Green Show

The closing line of each Handyman Corner segment: If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.

Hubby used to watch this show and then he bought the complete set on video tape, which he now cannot play because tapes were superseded by DVD's. Very funny show! Dry, deadpan humour.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Jan 18 - 08:38 AM

We can't possibly know what the writer had in mind precisely, and whilst there's nothing wrong with conjecture, that's all it can be.
All we can say for certain is that there are multiple possibilities.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: GUEST,Dannosuke
Date: 09 Jan 18 - 11:18 PM

It means to be a good dance lead the previous line is context to this.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: GUEST,Nick King
Date: 14 Apr 16 - 01:51 PM

I think "handy " is a misspelling and/or mis-pronounciation of the Chaucerian term "hende" meaning polite or courteous.

My guess seems logical to me especially since my understanding of the word hende means "polite" or "courteous" in Chacuerian English.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 04:28 PM

Prince Harry- hairy what??


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Gurney
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 03:01 PM

Bill, the Wizard of Oz WAS a dirty old man!


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 01:58 PM

See what it's done even to Bill?


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Bill D
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 01:48 PM

♫♪"Yank my doodle, it's a dandy..."♫♪


When properly viewed, everything's lewd


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 01:17 PM

I recommend "butt" as more euphonious. Yet, either way, the song is to be condemned as encouraging crude thoughts.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Bert
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 12:53 PM

I've heard it sung...

Stuck a feather up his arse and called it macaroni.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Acme
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 12:24 PM

Saints preserve us from "thinking parents" who jump to wildly wrong conclusions because they have no understanding of historical context, and now asking to bowdlerize "Yankee Doodle."

Banned Book Week just ended - I wonder if there is a Banned Song Week somewhere?

SRS


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 12:13 PM

Do arachnologists agree that the rhyme is offensive?


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: pdq
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 11:38 AM

That may be true, but most entomologist study insects, Class Insecta.

Spiders have eight legs (not six) and are in Class Arachnida.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 09:45 AM

Yes. Entomologists know that most spiders are our friends.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 09:35 AM

As for Little Miss Muffet, what a terrible role model!


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 07:51 AM

The more I think about it, the more homophobic it becomes....

And "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." There's nothing funny about alcoholism.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 07:27 AM

You kids know that parents read this too...?


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 07:14 AM

a parent just posted a complaint about this line

Good grief...


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: GUEST,Guest Parent
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 02:05 AM

Yankee Doodle is being taught at our K class and a parent just posted a complaint about this line, so I had to look it up (I've always had a reaction to it without understanding the meaning of the song). Now I know it is not a benign, patriotic children's song, but rather a bellicose and sexist rant that was thrown about during war time. If the song won't be killed, I say reform the song (the tune is fine) with revised lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Meaning: With the girls be handy?
From: CapriUni
Date: 22 Jun 11 - 01:46 PM

And since this was originally a British song, mocking the Americans for being country yokels, I've always thought the line

"Stuck a feather in his cap and called it 'Macaroni'"

was to make the point that these Colonials wouldn't know what true finery was if it came up and sat on their heads... and the implication, I assume, was also that they wouldn't know how to talk up the girls, either...


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