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Bluff The Listener

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Our panelists read three stories that contain the phrase "Hands off me nuts," only one of which is true.


CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR news quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing his week with Roy Blount Jr., Tom Bodett and Roxanne Roberts. And here again is your host at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis, Tennessee, Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Carl. Thanks, everybody. Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!


SAGAL: Hi, who's this?

SAX: Kenny Sax from Montpelier, Vermont.

SAGAL: Hey, how are things in Montpelier?

SAX: It's winter.

SAGAL: Yeah.


SAGAL: That's all you need say, huh?

SAX: It's here. It's been here since fall.

SAGAL: Right.


SAGAL: And how long will it be there, Kenny?

SAX: Until summer.


SAGAL: Kenny, it's nice to have you with us. You're going to play the game in which you have to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Kenny's topic?

KASELL: Hands off me nuts.


SAGAL: That's right, Carl just said hands off me nuts. Each of our panelists are going to read you a news story from this week containing that same phrase, guess the real one and you'll win Nutty Carl's voice on your home answering machine or voicemail. Ready to play?

SAX: Yeah.

SAGAL: All right, first let's hear from Tom Bodett.

TOM BODETT: St. Christina' Retreat in western New York state has been administering to the mentally ill for over 80 years. Their highly professional doctors and nurses treat their troubled patients with respect and kindness. So it is awkward for them to find themselves being sued by the families of their inpatients for demeaning and abusive behavior toward their residents.

It all began when an orderly's clipboard was found with derogatory marks on the patient charts. One man with a severe fear of urine was referred to as peanut. Another who thought the staff was bewitching her was hexnut. A claustrophobic patient was walnut.


BODETT: When confronted with the evidence, chief psychiatrist Dr. Courtney Hockstetler(ph) explained our trained medical staff knows now to serve vegetables to a lachanophobic in the cafeteria, but quite often our less educated kitchen and orderly staff need a simpler term they can remember. Someone with a fear of vegetables is a corn nut.


BODETT: You might now know it's dangerous to embrace a person with aphenphosmphobia, but you will think twice about hugging any hands off me nuts.


SAGAL: A mental hospital being sued for using that phrase to describe some of the patients. Your next story involving hands off me nuts comes from Roxanne Roberts.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: Another embarrassing revelation from Britain's phone-hacking scandal: the queen's nut caper. In a London courtroom last week, jurors were shown an email sent by News of the World former royal editor Clive Goodman(ph) to senior editor Andy Colson(ph). Goodman wrote that Queen Elizabeth was, quote, furious after she discovered her protection detail helped themselves to nut bowls sitting around Buckingham Palace to the point that palace officials sent a memo warning officers to, quote, keep their sticky fingers out.

Goodman wrote that the queen has a very savory tooth and was ticked off about police stealing the nuts and nibbles left out for her, so much so that she began marking the bowls to check if the levels were dropping.


ROBERTS: Quote, these are unproven allegations, the judge told the laughing jurors, which didn't stop the Daily Mail from screaming hands off me nuts on his front page the next day.


SAGAL: Hands off me nuts, or so says supposedly the queen of England. Your last story involving some use of the now classic phrase hands off me nuts comes from Roy Blount Jr.

ROY BLOUNT, JR.: The movie "Saving Mr. Banks," which is about the making of the movie "Mary Poppins," has understandably stirred renewed interest in that old Disney classic. But this week an unexpected treat emerged. If you've seen the new movie, you know that the Sherman brothers, Richard and Robert, who wrote the songs for "Mary Poppins," got frustrated trying to win over the super-severe P.L. Travers, who wrote the book in which Mary was created and who retained right of approval over everything in the movie.

So did the brothers work off their frustration in a hitherto unknown song for Dick Van Dyke as Burt the chimneysweep who was sweet on Mary? Had Burt been shopping at the Covent Garden market? Had he somehow found out that Mary had a soft spot for a certain crunchy snack food? All we know for sure is that Entertainment Tonight this week posted online an image of a wrinkled piece of circa 1960 Disney stationery with the scrawled heading Burt's Pistachio Song, followed by these lines: You can bite me sweet strawberry, me tea cakes, take your cuts, but I'll be saving these for Mary, hands off me nuts.



SAGAL: Let us review. From Tom Bodett, hands off me nuts, something that the orderlies at a mental institution calling certain patients with a certain phobia. From Roxanne Roberts, hands off me nuts, the way the tabloids describe the queen's attitude toward her salty snack bowls around the palace, or from Roy Blount Jr., hands off me nuts, a lyric in a lost, undeservedly, song for "Mary Poppins." Which of these is the real origin of that colorful phrase?

SAX: Wow, I'm going to go with the Mary Poppins story.

SAGAL: You're going to go with Roy's story of a heretofore unknown song by the Sherman brothers written for "Mary Poppins," lost to history?

SAX: Yeah.

SAGAL: All right, well, to bring you the correct answer, please listen to this very serious news report.

CATELYN BECKER: The nuts were intended for the queen. The palace issued a memo to (unintelligible) officers to keep their sticky fingers out of the queen's nuts.

SAGAL: That was Catelyn Becker from HuffPo Live, talking about the revelation of the queen of England's anger about people taking her nuts. Roxanne had the real story. But, you didn't win, but you did earn a point for Roy. So thank you so much for playing.

SAX: Thank you very much.

JR.: I'm sorry.

SAGAL: Bye-bye, Kenny, and thanks for playing.

SAX: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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