Pam Jung: On the Scene
Some things people need to know (from an anonymous e-mail).
Q: Did you ever wonder why dimes, quarters and half dollars have notches, while pennies and nickels do not?
A: The US Mint began putting notches on the edges of coins containing gold and silver to discourage holders from shaving off small quantities of the precious metals. Dimes, quarters and half dollars are notched because they used to contain silver. Pennies and nickels aren’t notched because the metals they contain are not valuable enough to shave.
Q: Why do men’s clothes have buttons on the right while women’s clothes have buttons on the left? A: When buttons were invented, they were very expensive and worn primarily by the rich. Because wealthy women were dressed by maids, dressmakers put the buttons on the maid’s right. Since most people are right-handed, it is easier to push buttons on the right through holes on the left.
Q: Why is shifting responsibility to someone else called “passing the buck”? A: In card games, it was once customary to pass an item, called a buck, from player to player to indicate whose turn it was to deal. If a player did not wish to assume the responsibility, he would “pass the buck” to the next player.
Q: Why do people clink their glasses before drinking a toast? A: It used to be common for someone to try to kill an enemy by offering him a poisoned drink. To prove to a guest that a drink was safe, it became customary for a guest to pour a small amount of his drink into the glass of the host. Both men would drink it simultaneously. When a guest trusted his host, he would then just touch or clink the host’s glass with his own.
I plan to be back in the office on Monday.
To contact Entertainment Editor Pam Jung, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4232.
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