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.

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Entry from May 17, 2019
“You can kiss my ass in Macy’s window”

The Macy’s department store in Herald Square in New York City is one of the largest stores in the world. “You can kiss my ass in Macy’s window” is a New York City insult meaning “you can kiss my ass”—and everyone can see it.

“If this isn’t what happened in the well known cases of Dempsey and Carpentier, and Dempsey and Firpo, I’ll stand on my head for a week in Macy’s window” was printed in the New York (NY) Herald Tribune on August 9, 1925.

Broadway, a play by Philip Dunning and George Abbott, opened in 1926, and this was printed in the 1927 book text:

“I wouldn’t stay and entertain your gang of goofers if you kissed my foot in Macy’s window at high noon.”

“If we don’t go over a million with this I’ll kiss my brother Max in Macy’s window!” was printed in the book My Last Million Readers (1941) by Emile Gauvreau. “‘If you can get $100,000 for him,’ smiled Joe (McCarthy of the New York Yankees—ed.), ‘I’ll kiss you in Macy’s window’” was printed in the Daily News (New York, NY) on October 2, 1945. “‘You c’n kiss my ass in Macy’s window,’ the powder-puff girl shouted” was printed in The Invisible Island: A Novel (1948) by Irwin Stark.

David Halberstam’s book The Best and the Brightest (1972) quoted President Lyndon Johnson in 1967 demanding loyalty from a potential White House hire:

“I don’t want loyalty. I want loyalty. I want him to kiss my ass in Macy’s window at high noon and tell me it smells like roses. I want his pecker in my pocket.”

There is another famous use of the saying. “You can kiss my ass in Macy’s window” was said by a CIA officer named Margaret who distrusted an informant named Curveball (on whose information the United States would go to war in Iraq in 2003).

[This entry was assisted by the Quote Investigator.]


The Free Dictionary
(someone) can kiss my ass
vulgar slang A rude exclamation of contempt, disregard, or general disrespect. Primarily heard in US.

Wikipedia: Macy’s
Macy’s (originally R. H. Macy & Co.) is an American department store chain founded in 1858 by Rowland Hussey Macy. It became a division of the Cincinnati-based Federated Department Stores in 1994, through which it is affiliated with the Bloomingdale’s department store chain; the holding company was renamed Macy’s, Inc. in 2007. As of 2015, Macy’s was the largest U.S. department store company by retail sales. As of February 2019, there were 584 full-line stores with the Macy’s nameplate in operation throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Its flagship store is located at Herald Square in the Manhattan borough of New York City. The company had 130,000 employees and earned annual revenue of $24.8 billion as of 2017.

Macy’s has conducted the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City since 1924 and has sponsored the city’s annual Fourth of July fireworks display since 1976. Macy’s Herald Square is one of the largest department stores in the world. The flagship store covers almost an entire New York City block, features about 1.1 million square feet of retail space, includes additional space for offices and storage, and serves as the endpoint for the Thanksgiving Day parade.

Wikipedia: Broadway (play)
Broadway is a 1926 Broadway play produced by Jed Harris and written and directed by George Abbott and Philip Dunning. It was Abbott’s first big hit on his way to becoming “the most famous play doctor of all time” after he “rejiggered” Dunning’s play. The crime drama used “contemporary street slang and a hard-boiled, realistic atmosphere” to depict the New York City underworld during Prohibition. It opened on September 16, 1926, at the Broadhurst Theatre and was one of the venue’s greatest hits, running for 603 performances.

9 August 1925, New York (NY) Herald Tribune, sec. 10, pg. 6, col. 7:
Boxing Fan Senses Ballyhoo In Dempsey-Wills “Wrangle”
Intimates in Scathing Letter That Public Is Being Steamed to Proper Pitch Before Announcement Is Made That Champion Has Signed for Bout

By Jack Lawrence
(...) (Written by an irate boxing fan.—ed.)
“If this isn’t what happened in the well known cases of Dempsey and Carpentier, and Dempsey and Firpo, I’ll stand on my head for a week in Macy’s window.”

Google Books
Broadway:
A Play

By Philip Dunning and George Abbott
New York, NY: G.H. Doran
1927
Pg. 164:
Roy
I mean Billie ought to get out of here — and as for me, I wouldn’t stay and entertain your gang of goofers if you kissed my foot in Macy’s window at high noon.
Steve
Why, you dancing tramp.
Roy
I know all about you. It’s guys like you give New York a bad name.

12 June 1927, Detroit (MI) Free Press, “‘Broadway,’ The Night Club Classic, In Stage Scenes and Story,” pt. 1, pg. 11, col. 2:
The eighth installment of “Broadway,” which follows, continues the story of Billie Moore, cabaret dancer; Steve Crandall, bootleg king and murderer; Roy Lane, hoofer, and the other picturesque figures who appear in the famous night club play at the Garrick.
(...) (Col. 3)
THINGS happen swiftly now. Roy openly defies Steve. He refuses to stay and entertain Steve’s party: “I wouldn’t stay and entertain your gang of goofers if you kissed my foot in Macy’s window at high noon. It’s guys like you,” he adds, “that give New York a bad name!”

19 December 1928, New York (NY) Evening Post, “Get Behind Thee, Crouse, Mr. J’s Reply to Stage Bid” by Nunnally Johnson, pg. 3, col. 8:
And Walter Winchell, what would he say? Would it turn out that I had lived for more than thirty years only to make a public spectacle of myself—almost, as you might say, in Macy’s window at high noon!

24 May 1930, New Orleans (LA) Item, “On Broadway” by Walter Winchell, pg. 4, col. 3:
THINGS I NEVER KNEW TILL NOW
That an amusing feud is being plotted between the press dep’t of the “Stepping Sisters” show and Whitney Bolton, the dramatic critic for The Morning Telegraph. Mr. Bolton, it appears, said in his report of the show: “If this one lasts five weeks I will draw pictures in Macy’s window at high noon!” The show is in its 4th week now.

Google Books
My Last Million Readers
By Emile Gauvreau
New York, NY: E.P. Dutton & Co., inc.
1941
Pg. 405:
“There’s not a monotonous page in the whole damn book! The hell with monotony! If we don’t go over a million with this I’ll kiss my brother Max in Macy’s window!”

2 October 1945, Daily News (New York, NY), “Yankees ‘Sold’ Flag to Cubs” by Dick Young, pg. 38, col. 2:
“If you can get $100,000 for him,” smiled Joe (McCarthy of the New York Yankees—ed.), “I’ll kiss you in Macy’s window.”

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
14 March 1946, New York (NY) Post, “Authors Are Like People” by Clip Boutell, pg. 32, col. 3:
“I resign. I abdicate. You are the sole and only whodunit inventor. I will gladly kiss your feet in Macy’s window at any given hour and day. And I will never again claim that I invented the word.”
(Wolfe Kaufman to Donald Gordon about the word “whodunit.”—ed.)

Google Books
The Invisible Island:
A Novel

By Irwin Stark
New York, NY: Viking Press
1948
Pg. 314:
“You c’n kiss my ass in Macy’s window,” the powder-puff girl shouted.

31 October 1950, Battle Creek (MI) Enquirer and News, “New York Scene Day by Day” by Charles B. Driscoll, pg. 4, cols. 3-4:
If you can write a greater hymn than that one ("Abide with Me”—ed.) I will kiss you in Macy’s window, as they say around our town.

24 November 1950, Lafayette (IN) Journal and Courier, “Day by Day” by Charles B. Driscoll, pg. 6, col. 2:
For generations there has been a saying, “Well, if that’s not so, I’ll kiss you in Macy’s window.” Or, “I’ll bet you’re wrong. If not, I’ll kiss you in Macy’s window.”

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
1 June 1954, New York (NY) Post, “Schmitz Gets Into Casey’s Hair” by Jerry Mitchell, pg. 48, cols. 2-3:
“If he beats us again,” he (New York Yankees Manager Casey Stengel—ed.) said, turning to Harry Grayson, a distinguished journalist of the old school, “if he beats us again, I’ll kiss you in Macy’s window and pay your pay to Europe an’ back!”

7 June 1959, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer TV Programs and Personalities sec., “Mentor of Pantomime Quiz Compares Day and Night Shows” by Harry Harris, pg. 2, col. 4:
“... Vincent Price and Hans Conried were on the same team. Hans’ line was ‘Does Macy’s tell Gimbels?’ but as soon as Vincent caught “Macy’s,’ he yelled out, ‘I’ve got it ! I’ll kiss it in Macy’s window!’”

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
28 March 1963, The Evening News (Newburgh, NY), “Transcripts Heard in Bribery Trial,” pg. 9D, col. 4:
I’ll kiss your *** in Macy’s window.

Google Books
My First Hundred Years in Hollywood
By Jack L. Warner with Dean Southern Jennings
New York, NY: Random House
1965
Pg. 148:
I have never had to run after any man or woman in my entire life, or kiss any fannies in Macy’s window to get business.

Google Books
Comprehensive Group Psychotherapy
By Harold I. Kaplan, Benjamin J. Sadock, Robert Cancro and Jack A. Grebb
Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins
1971
Pg. 680:
Tim wondered whether he wasn’t being too personal, to which Tony said, “Kiss my ass in front of Macy’s window.”

Google Books
The Best and the Brightest
By David Halberstam
Greenwich, CT: Fawcett Publications
1972
Pg. ?:
“How loyal is that man?” he (President Lyndon Johnson—ed.) asked a White House staffer about a potential hand.

“Well, he seems quite loyal, Mr President,” said the staffer.

“I don’t want loyalty. I want loyalty. I want him to kiss my ass in Macy’s window at high noon and tell me it smells like roses. I want his pecker in my pocket.”

Google Books
The Late Harvey Grosbeck
By Gilbert Millstein
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
1974
Pg. 107:
“Roger that. Hold one. Right on. Right off. Kiss my ass in Macy’s window. Do I not bleed?”

17 April 1975, Daily News (New York, NY), “For numberteers, life is $hort and $weet” by Edward Kirkman, pg. 70, col. 4:
When the cops asked why, Kahn replied: “The guy who sold me this thing said if the cops catch me, he’ll kiss my behind in Macy’s window.”

23 July 1978, Newsday (Long Island, NY), “Tony Curtis: ‘Our Natural State Is Unhappiness’: The LI Interview” by Al Cohn, pt. 2, pg. 14, col. 1:
“I mean, kiss my cheeks in Macy’s window.”
(Spoken by American actor Tony Curtis.—ed.)

Google Books
The Years of Lyndon Johnson:
The Path to Power

By Robert A. Caro
New York, NY: Knopf
1982
Pg. 111:
“I want someone who will kiss my ass in Macy’s window, and say it smells like roses.”
(Spoken by Lyndon Johnson.—ed.)

Google Books
Texas in the Morning:
The love story of Madeleine Brown and President Lyndon Baines Johnson

By Madeleine Duncan Brown
Baltimore, MD: Conservatory Press
1997
Pg. 140:
“But when this bullshit is over, I’m going to make Hoover kiss my ass in Macy’s window on the hottest day of the year and swear it smells like roses.”

Google Groups: alt.support.stop-smoking
ultimate masochist
FejjNos
6/26/98
(...)
And if you don’t like it, streetwalker, you can kiss my pale white ass in Macy’s window!

Google Groups: alt.activism.death-penalty
George F. Will on Curveball
Earl Evleth
1/9/08
I just finished the book, I found it excellent. Here is George Will’s comments. The book has generally gotten good reviews.

Curveball, Swing and A Miss
By George F. Will
Sunday, November 11, 2007; Page B07
In late 2002, two strong-willed CIA officers, identified only as Beth and Margaret, were at daggers drawn. They had diametrically opposing views about the veracity of an Iraqi defector’s reports concerning Saddam Hussein’s biological weapons programs, especially the notorious but never-seen mobile weapons labs.
(...)
“We have,” said Powell, “firsthand descriptions” of “biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails.” Powell took the word of people who took Curveball’s word. Such as Beth, who had conceded that Curveball was odd, but weren’t most defectors? Curveball’s reports were “too detailed to be a fabrication” and too complicated and technical for Margaret to judge. “Well,” Margaret replied, “you can kiss my ass in Macy’s window.” And the war came.

Google Books
Curveball:
Spies, Lies, and the Con Man Who Caused a War

By Bob Drogin
New York, NY: Random House
2007
Pg. 138:
Curveball was credible. Margaret could kiss her own sweet ass in Macy’s window.

Google Books
The Dinner Party:
A Novel

By Howard Fast
New York, NY: Open Road Integrated Media
2011 (Originally published in 1987)
Pg. ?:
“Am I? Kiss my ass in Macy’s window?”

“No way. I always lose. I lost enough of these nutty bets to spend a whole morning kissing your ass in Macy’s window. You never said which Macy’s. Where would it be, New York? Then we got to make a trip there one day.”

Walkers in the City
DOES MACY’S TELL GIMBEL’S?
(...)
COMMENTS
Barbara Hanson
February 23, 2011 at 5:18 PM
What about “You can kiss my ass in Macy’s window?” “Tell it to the cop on the corner”? I could go on for days…

Twitter
Joan of Snark
@jlq529
Replying to @saradannerdukic
And as my coworker from NYC used to say, ”You can kiss my ass in Macy’s window!” They can’t compete in a NYC snark throw- down!
11:29 AM - 27 Feb 2019

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNames/Phrases • Friday, May 17, 2019 • Permalink