Come Up And See My... Cocktail Shaker?
August 13, 2019 9:28 PM   Subscribe

Writing a story, want one character to invite another back to their place, dot dot dot. The story is set present-day, and I'm not sure how commonly understood "come up and see my etchings" would be. Boils down to etchings versus drink.

1: would this be a plausible statement in 2010's-era US?
1a: would it be, ahem, effective?
1b: is there a chance the person being invited would legitimately have no idea what this means?

2: would "come up and have a drink" be more effective?
2a: it feels like it would be too forward, almost? Too definitively a sexual invitation, too much of a promise or imposition.
2b: would night cap, coffee, tea, or milkshake be a plausible expansion of the phrase?

3: is this what Netflix and chill is meant to replace? Because that will not work in this story.
posted by RainyJay to Writing & Language (19 answers total)
My $0.02:

1: Etchings? What? Is this a pairing of retro art enthusiasts? I’m a no on plausibility.
1a: ???
1b: Yes. That person is me.

2: Yes.
2a: That’s why it should be phrased as an invitation/question, not as a command.
2b: Nightcap, yes; others, no, assuming this is occurring at night.

3: No. Netflix and chill is not for concluding a date.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 9:36 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]

Coffee's totally plausible, based on my media consumption, and so is a drink. It's definitely forward and personally not something I would suggest or accept unless a date was going quite well and it was already clear that the chemistry was there. Invitation can be for making out, sex or literally having coffee and talking. (People do drink coffee at night, I don't understand it, but I've watched it happen).

The "come up and see my thing of interest" works if 1) the invitee already wants to come up and/or 2) the inviter has a thing to see that they are certain the invitee will want to see. Like, if the invitee is crazy about 19th century first editions and Louisa May Alcott, and the inviter has a first edition of Little Women. A gent once invited me in with the promise of a video of a Beethoven concert - I accepted but the evening did not end as he'd hoped it would.
posted by bunderful at 9:40 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]

If your story were set in 1935, it'd be fine.

In the 2010s it would be somewhat plausible if Character A is one of those people who's playful with language and likes to occasionally trot out vintage euphemisms with friends and acquaintances for a laugh. I have friends who do this and a few of them aren't completely insufferable. It would be a bit more plausible for your story if Character A and Character B have recognized a mutual love for this kind of thing and use it as historical-phrase-nerd foreplay like quoting Nick and Nora Charles lines to each other or something.

But in the real world it's highly likely that Character B would have no idea that Character A was using an old-fashioned chat-up line and would instead think they were literally and awkwardly being invited up to see some artwork.
posted by theory at 10:11 PM on August 13 [6 favorites]

If the character speaking is the particular kind of nerd you clearly are (I also am), and it's delivered as a self-conscious joke (either awkward or not depending on how reasonable of an expectation they have that the other person is also this kind of nerd), then "etchings" would work. But yes, chances are higher than not that the other person would be baffled. All of which—saying "would you like to come up and see my etchings," and getting it or being baffled—could be useful character development, but perhaps not what you're aiming for. (On preview theory said this same thing better than me!)
posted by babelfish at 10:13 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]

If I were single 5 years ago and I knew my date might get the reference I might say it, otherwise I'd offer a drink, but a particular drink- her favorite, or my best, or a port or cordial.

I've always read the "etchings" line as spoken by a person who makes etchings, that is "wanna come up and see my art? hear my band? read my poems?" as opposed to collected art.
It seems Raymond Chandler used it.
posted by vrakatar at 10:25 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]

The 'etchings' bit was said to be Stanford White's pick-up line... things did not go well for the invitees or, eventually, White himself. Previously.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:45 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]

I think _how_ you say it is really the deal. For example:

Would you like...a snack?

Would you meet my cat?

Would you wash your hands after kindly picking up that litter from the street?

Would you like to borrow my book on drawing on the left side of the brain? (this last one is arguably the most personal, ellipsis.)
posted by amtho at 11:48 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]

....Er, is the phrase "netflix and chill" still used as a euphemism for this or has that moment passed?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:17 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]

If "Netflix and chill" isn't dated yet, it will be soon — and "have some coffee"/"have another drink"/"hang out for a bit"/"[callback to earlier conversation]" have made sense and will keep making sense for a long time.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:59 AM on August 14 [3 favorites]

I love the etchings, but I am a nerd and into historical fiction.

Depending on the characters, there might be something else personal. If one character is an artist, then saying "would you like to come see my work" wouldn't feel weird or dated. Otherwise, I would make it character specific: meet my cat (for a cat-lover), borrow a book (if they were talking about one) - or the generic thing would be coffee, tea or a drink.
posted by jb at 4:26 AM on August 14

No joke last time I wanted to do this, I said "so, wanna meet my cat?" He fairly jumped out of his seat.

I do understand the etchings line but I read a LOT.

I think "come up and have a drink" suggests alcohol, and have tea suggests tea, etc. but the tone of the evening and the desires of the individuals suggest what ends up happening once you get there.

Did people ever actually say "wanna watch Netflix and chill"? You could say "want to go to my place and watch a movie" but I think the listener would laugh at the words Netflix & chill.
posted by wellred at 4:58 AM on August 14 [2 favorites]

I think just "do you wanna come up...?" covers all the bases.
posted by gaspode at 6:18 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]

Netflix and chill is not a thing for the end of a good date, it's the way you self-consciously invited someone over to hook up several years ago.

"See my etchings" comes off as pretentious if you get the reference, and is opaque otherwise.

"This was fun, do you want to come back to my place and grab a drink" is much more realistic.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:22 AM on August 14 [4 favorites]

I have invited dates to see my (new, had come up in conversation) sofa and to try whatever unusual booze I have at the time or maybe just to see my place. I prefer going for something that I actually possess but which isn’t a particular enticement to make sure we’re on the same page, or at least the same chapter.

I get the etchings reference, but it’s too clever by half, it’s self-consciously try-hard in a way that doesn’t bode well for an, um, relaxed continued evening.
posted by momus_window at 6:58 AM on August 14

I read a lot as well, including a lot of older works, but I have never come across this phrase. I have seen “come up and have a drink” countless places, though.
posted by brook horse at 7:34 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]

1b: is there a chance the person being invited would legitimately have no idea what this means?

I think you have your answer but this might make you chuckle: I (mid 40s, nerdy, academic) was all "I'd love to come see some historic etchings, that sounds really interesting, what is this on about?" until I read the comments and went "oh." I'm a little opaque sometimes. :)

(I would just go with "I'm having a great time, I'm not ready for the evening to end yet, do you want to come back to my place and hang out for awhile?" ("hang out" skips the whole drink issue, because if someone asks me if I want to come have a drink after me saying I'm sober... -1000 points)).
posted by joycehealy at 7:38 AM on August 14

I get the etchings reference, but in my own real life, people just say, "do you want to come up and hang out for a bit?"
posted by Countess Sandwich at 11:45 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]

I don't think you could just drop in the etchings reference cold. Not enough people will get it.

But it might work if you somehow prepare for that moment by bringing up the etchings thing earlier. Maybe someone's friend or roommate brings it up as "this is how our grandparents used to say 'Want to come up to my place for a drink'" (maybe someone has been reading an article like this) and they both kind of har-har it because at that point neither is interested in going up to the other's place for a drink or etchings or anything of the sort.

But then 20 pages later or whatever when that moment comes, the one person says they have suddenly become extremely interested in etchings and would like to come up and see mine or whatever, the other says, yeah, I've etching is my new hobby, too--I'll let you see my etchings if you let me look at yours, blah-blah-blah, and now you're off to the races.

That sounds like that way they would do it in a cheesy sitcom (you can see why I'm not a writer) but maybe there is a little better dialogue you can work out along those general lines, and a plot point that is a bit more subtle or natural for your story that you can work out for your particular situation.

Regardless, just a cold drop-in of the reference personally I don't think will work. But preparing for it and using it as part of the character & relationship building you're doing in the story maybe could.
posted by flug at 1:41 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]

"Would you like to come up for coffee?"
"I don't drink coffee"
"That's alright, I haven't got any"...
posted by Fuchsoid at 3:22 AM on August 15 [2 favorites]

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