A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeye's fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from October 31, 2006
“Hotter Than a Stolen Tamale;” “Hotter Than a Fur Coat in Marfa”

There are many ways a Texan can say that “it’s hot.”

“Hot tamales” are hot. Something stolen is “hot.” So what could be “hotter than a stolen tamale”?

Marfa is a Texas town where you probably won’t find too many fur coats. If you do find a fur coat there, it might be “hot goods” brought from elsewhere. It’s not known who originated these phrases, or when they were started.

Texas Monthly
Texas has four seasons: drought, flood, blizzard, and twister. That old saying isn’t far from wrong. Because of its sheer size, Texas experiences all kinds of weather—sometimes all at once. Out in West Texas, the weather can be drier than the heart of a haystack and windier than a fifty-pound bag of whistling lips. A duststorm is dubbed “Panhandle rain.” Thunderclouds might bring some real rain—say, a real gully-washer toad-strangler. And, all over the state, it’s hot—darned hot. How hot, you ask? Hotter than a stolen tamale. Hotter than a honeymoon hotel. Hotter than a fur coat in Marfa.

More Texas Talkin’
Need a Texas-ism to describe the heat?  No sweat.  There are dozens of steamy similes for summer suffering (not surprisingly, there are far fewer for winter weather). How hot is it?  It’s hot as the hinges of hell; hot as a two-dollar pistol; hot as a stolen tamale.  It’s hotter than whoopee in woolens, hotter than a preacher’s knee, hotter than a fur coat in Marfa.  See?  It’s easy to get hot talk down cold.  It’s so hot the hens are laying hard-boiled eggs, It’s hot as a summer revival, hotter than honeymoon hotel, hotter than a burning stump, hot as a pot of neck bones. 

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Tuesday, October 31, 2006 • Permalink