Back in my college days, I tended to snigger at drug references in rock songs. So, I often sniggered when I heard Mick Jagger sing the lines in the Rolling Stones’ 1969 song “Let It Bleed” that go:
“Baby, you can rest your weary head right on me
And there will always be a space in my parking lot
When you need a little coke and sympathy”
That phrase was popularized by the play Tea and Sympathy, written by American playwright Robert Anderson (1917-2009). It debuted at the Barrymore Theatre in New York City on September 30, 1953.
Since then, the phrase “tea and sympathy” has been used to mean lending a troubled person a sympathetic ear.
But the play was an early, groundbreaking exploration of the issue of sexual identity. So, it’s also sometimes said with a nudge-nudge-wink-wink – as in, giving someone sympathy as a ploy to seduce them.
In the play, a sexually ambiguous teenage boy at a boarding school gets harassed for not meeting the manliness standards of the day.
The boy, named Tom, is befriended by a faculty member’s lonely wife, Laura, originally played by Deborah Kerr.
In Act One her unlikeable husband tells her:
"All you're supposed to do is every once in a while give the boys a little tea and sympathy."
She ends up offering Tom a bit more than hubby had in mind. This leads to a famous quote from the play.
In the last scene, after leaving her husband, Laura lets Tom know she wants to help him clear up his sexuality and says:
“Years from now, when you talk about this – and you will – be kind.”
MGM worried that the play’s original ending would violate the Code’s rules requiring non-marital sex to be portrayed as immoral. So the studio tacked on some asinine scenes that flash forward ten years. Tom is seen as a manly married man and Laura regrets her sinful behavior.
I wonder how Mick Jagger and Keith Richards would have rewritten the ending.
Here are some of the other famous quotes and phrases linked to SEPTEMBER 30.
• “This is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time.” - The infamous comment made by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, on September 30, 1938, after the Munich Conference, where he tried to appease Adolf Hitler by allowing Germany to have Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. It didn’t work.
• “We make money the old-fashioned way. We earn it.” - Ad slogan for the Smith Barney investment firm, famously spoken in TV ads featuring the British actor John Houseman. Smith Barney’s trademark filing for the phrase says the company first used it in commerce on September 30, 1979.