From celery to sex to ‘Old Man and the See’

I saw an interesting article the other day. It seems that the Chelsea Blues, a two-time defending Premier League champion British soccer team, has banned three fans from attending future matches after they were caught throwing celery at each other during the club’s FA Cup match at Tottenham.

The article noted that Chelsea fans have been singing a “sexually explicit” song about celery and throwing the vegetable among themselves for 20 years. The club had recently warned fans that further celery tossing would not be tolerated, hence the tossing of the tossers. No word yet on when U2 will release its new single in support of The Tottenham Three called “Sunday, Bloody Mary Sunday.”

After reading the article, I did exactly what every other serious journalist and avid soccer fan would do, and by that, I mean every serious journalist and soccer fan of the male persuasion. I immediately did a Google search on the words “Chelsea” and “Celery” to find the lyrics to the offending song.

I’m sorry to report that the lyrics are far less interesting than one might expect or have hoped for. On my Personal Offense Meter, they fall well within the “harmlessly vulgar” category. I think it’s a stretch to characterize the song as “sexually explicit” unless you happen to find use of the word “bum” to be arousing. If I’d had more time or less actual work, I‘d have continued my research to see if British soccer fans conflate sex with any other members of the vegetable family.

Beyond wondering what would possess a stadium full of soccer fans to burst into any song, let alone a song involving celery, during a soccer match, I cannot help but think the mere fact that significant numbers of English soccer fans make any association whatsoever between sex and celery may go a long ways to explaining why the sun does indeed now set on the British Empire.

I was still thinking about the article a day later when I took my weekly stroll up the Harbor Steps to First Avenue in Seattle to check out the marquee at the Lusty Lady. I make it a point to walk by the Lusty Lady at least once a week to read their marquee, which I know sounds a lot like saying I read Playboy for the articles, but it’s true. (OK, it’s not true, but has elements of truthiness attached to it. And in my defense, I read Sports Illustrated for the photographs).

For the record, I’ve never been inside the Lusty Lady – not that there’s anything wrong with the place. I understand the appeal of strip clubs. As someone once said, if you’ve seen one woman naked, you pretty much want to see them all. I’m just afraid that if I went inside I’d run into someone I know and have to stammer out some lame excuse about stopping in to get change for the bus, or doing research for a column….(Note to self: Future column idea – ‘A Day at the Lusty Lady’. Confirm that Review will reimburse cover charge. Ask Chuck what table dances go for these days).

I don’t know who writes the Lusty Lady’s marquees, but I admire his or her work. It combines two of my favorite things – clever writing and scantily clad women, although I’ll settle for clever women and scantily clad writing. And speaking of clever writing and scantily clad women, I recently stumbled upon a list compiled by Jonathan Shipley called “Phrases on the Marquee of a Local Strip Club to Cater to A More Literate Crowd.” Shipley’s suggested literary marquees include: “Ahab, Come See Our Great White Tail!”; “The Old Man and the SEE”; “Check Out Our Trollops, Anthony”; “The Prince and the Peeper”; “The Hos of Kilimanjaro”; “It’s Ulysses to Resist Us”; and my personal favorite, “Our Girls Even Drive Oscar Wilde.”

I think I’ve said enough about strip clubs, vulgar songs and celery for one day. As Will Rogers said, if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Although it has nothing to do with the topic at hand, Rogers also noted that long ago when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft. Today it’s called golf.

Tom Tyner writes a weekly humor column for this newspaper. This is from his “Classics File” written years ago.