Posted by R. Gaughran on November 19, 2003
In Reply to: Do the Dutch posted by ESC on November 17, 2003
I was looking into the expression "do the Dutch" myself and stumbled on this discussion. My reason for looking is that it appears in David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross. The character Levene says it when he's caught in the robbery. He claims that the night before he was ready to "do the Dutch," meaning suicide, but I'm still curious about the etymology, if anybody knows. (Jack Lemmon utters the line in the film version.)
: : : : : Sent to the Archives on another mission, I stumbled on a laundry list of Dutch this and that, most of which was attributed to the English bias against the Dutch. Dutch treat (which antedates and explains "go Dutch") refers to the frugality for which the Dutch were once famous. I grew up in a town founded by Dutchmen and full of their descendants, and there were stories (apparently true) circulating in town about frugality gone wild. One example: a man worked as a hired hand on a farm down the road, and was driven to his job every day by his employer. (Both had Dutch names.) At the hired hand's death it was discovered that he had in his garage a brand new car, which he had never been seen to drive. The theory was that if he drove it, his employer would stop driving him to work. #Dutch courage: the English obtained their gin from ports which in those days were Dutch, like Antwerp. Dutch courage is more gin than Dutch. Dutch uncle, I believe, refers to a scolding uncle whose nephews are also Dutch, especially since the usual usage is in a simile, such as "...like a Dutch uncle...." Double Dutch, also mentioned in the Archive, is now used for a type of urban rope skipping using two ropes. I don't know how that gets to be Dutch.
: : : : I was just reading a murder mystery where "go Dutch," or maybe it was "do the Dutch," meant commit suicide. Now I'm going to have to try and find that exact quote.
: : : I think that you will find that "Dutch" was the nickname of a gangster - I also think a Bogart film may have had a character called "Dutch" (Key Largo? The Big Sleep?).
: : : For some reason "Dutch Schultz" rings a bell.
: : Afterthought :
: : I should have checked this before - if you want to read about a real nice guy try the following link
: : http://www.rotten.com/library/bio/crime/mafia/dutch-schultz/
: : Not somebody you would want to annoy.
: : "Do a Dutch" could be any of the psychopathic punishments meted out there.
: I found where I read it:
: DID THE DUTCH - Committed suicide. "She didn't leave a note and there was nothing among her effects to tell us why she did the Dutch." From "Blue Lonesome" by Bill Pronzini (Walker and Company, New York, 1995), Page 14. The character cut her wrists and bled out in the bathtub.