meaning and origin of the phrase ‘come up and see me sometime’

The American-English phrase come up and see me sometime is used as an invitation to sexual dalliance.

For example, in The Paducah Sun (Paducah, Kentucky) of Friday 18th March 2005, John Wollman Rusoff used the phrase when writing about the Canadian actress Kim Cattrall (born 1956), who interpreted Samantha Jones in the U.S. television series Sex and the City (1998-2004):

In an interview, Cattrall is jolly […] and effervescent, occasionally letting loose with a Samantha “come-up-and-see-me-sometime” inflection.

Similarly, in an article by Jerry Garrett published in the Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wisconsin) of Sunday 29th April 2007, the phrase appeared in an extended metaphor likening the 2007 Volvo S80, powered by a V-8 engine, to a Swedish woman:

I found the V-8 model had come-up-and-see-me-sometime curb appeal, and it was rompin’ stompin’ good fun to drive — until the low-fuel light told me this shapely Swede had the appetite of a trucker. Our first date was our last.

The phrase come up and see me sometime is a misquotation from She Done Him Wrong, a U.S. film released in February 1933, starring the U.S. actress and playwright Mary Jane ‘Mae’ West (1892-1980) and the British-born U.S. actor Cary Grant (Alexander Archibald Leach – 1904-86). This film was adapted from Diamond Lil (1928), a play by Mae West.

In She Done Him Wrong, set in New York City in the 1890s, Mae West interprets Lady Lou, a barroom singer, and Cary Grant plays the role of Captain Cummings, head of the temperance league (in reality an undercover Federal agent). This is the dialogue in which occurs the misquoted line, which is Why don’t you come up sometime and see me?:

– Lady Lou: You know what, I always did like a man in a uniform. That one fits you grand. Why don’t you come up sometime and see me? I’m home every evening.
– Captain Cummings: Yeah but, I’m busy every evening.
– Lady Lou: Busy? Say, what are you trying to do, insult me?
– Captain Cummings: Why, no, not at all. I’m just busy, that’s all. You see, we’re holding meetings in Jacobson’s Hall every evening. Any time you have a moment to spare, I’d be glad to have you drop in. You’re more than welcome.
– Lady Lou: I heard you. But you ain’t kidding me any. You know, I met your kind before. Why don’t you come up sometime, hmm?
– Captain Cummings: Well, I…
– Lady Lou: Don’t be afraid. I won’t tell.
– Captain Cummings: But, er…
– Lady Lou: Come up pal. I’ll tell your fortune… Ah, you can be had.

However, the phrase come up and see me sometime did appear in I’m No Angel, a film released later in 1933, also starring Mae West and Cary Grant—this is the passage in which Tira, interpreted by Mae West, uses the phrase:

[Answers phone] Hello? Oh, Juror #4. Yes, I remember you. You were the one with the nice kind face. Mmm hmm. Oh, I know you were for me. Mmm hmm. I want to thank you for those beautiful flowers. They were lovely. And don’t forget – come up and see me sometime.
—source: IMDb (Internet Movie Database)

Incidentally, as early as the 1930s, the exact form of the phrase had become a matter of debate—the following is from Mae West Comes to Town, by Robert E. Murphy, published in The Minneapolis Star (Minneapolis, Minnesota) of Friday 1st April 1938:

She [= Mae West] settled the frequently heard controversy about the famous “Come up and see me” line. It’s not “Come up some time ’n see me,” but “Come up and see me some time.”

In any case, the misquotation come up and see me sometime immediately became an idiomatic expression—as evidenced by the following from Screen Bulletins, published in The Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas) of Friday 12th May 1933:

Mae West’s Slangology.—Mae West needed just one picture to add to the collection of slang phrases that the “talkies” have contributed to the English language.
“You can be had,” and “Come up and see me sometime,” are national bywords as the result of “She Done Him Wrong.”
Since the “Came the dawn” days of the silent pictures, Hollywood has been contributing to slangology. Edmund Lowe and Victor McLaglen made “Sez you!” and “Sez me!” popular. Robert Armstrong and Jimmy Gleason offered “Is zat so?” and “Oh, yeah?” Jimmy Durante’s “Am I mortified?” is a national phrase. Al Jolson made “Sonny boy” what it is today.

The misquotation was used in this advertisement for She Done Him Wrong, published in The Evening Star (Washington, D.C.) of Thursday 3rd August 1933—the Metropolitan cinema was announcing that it would show She Done Him Wrong again as of the following day:

advertisement for She Done Him Wrong - The Evening Star (Washington, DC) - 3 August 1933

I’LL BE BACK AGAIN . . . . . TOMORROW
COME UP AND SEE ME SOMETIME
MAE WEST
HE WAS HER MAN—BUT
SHE DONE HIM WRONG
The Paramount Sensation with
CARY GRANT

Likewise, come up and see me sometime was used as an advertising slogan for I’m No Angel—for example, the following advertisement appeared in The Morning Chronicle (Manhattan, Kansas) of Friday 3rd November 1933:

advertisement for 'I'm No Angel' - The Morning Chronicle (Manhattan, Kansas) - 3 November 1933

Come Up and See Me Sometime!—Hundreds Have!
NOW! and Tomorrow! MAE WEST in “I’m no angel”

An extended form of the phrase appeared in the column Behind the News, by Sidney Skolsky, published in the Daily News (New York City, N.Y.) of Saturday 5th August 1933—the author writes that he is rehearsing a love scene with Mae West:

We start playing the scene in the living room. Mae gives me those downward glances and says “You fascinate me. You’d better go.” This is the catch line of “I Am No Angel.” The same as “Come up an’ see me, some time, any time,” was the catch line of “She Done Him Wrong.”

The phrase occurred in the account of the annual Mardi Gras pageant, published in the Shamokin News-Dispatch (Shamokin, Pennsylvania) of Wednesday 1st November 1933:

We thought curvy Mae West, motherhood’s boon, was there . . . but not in person. Some contestants had more curves than the Indianapolis race track. Maybe the judges didn’t rise to the occasion at that point! How they thumbed through their programs to get that gal’s number! Come up and see me, some time fellows!

Florence Taaffe used the phrase attributively in an article entitled Famous Women March in Review in Tableaux at the Institute of Arts, published in The Minneapolis Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota) of Saturday 4th November 1933—she gave an account of the annual meeting of the Friends of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, which had taken place the previous day (the French novelist Amandine-Aurore Lucille Dupin (1804-76) wrote under the pseudonym of George Sand):

With a series of scenes entitled collectively, “Never Revealed Antics of Famous Women,” the members were treated to “intimate glimpses into the private lives” of Marie-Antoinette, Lucrezia Borgia, Pocahantas [sic], Empress Josephine, Mona Lisa, Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth and George Sand. Mrs. John S. Dalrymple, outgoing president, served as announcer for the successive scenes […].
[…]
George Sand completed the series, with Mrs. James C. Wyman. . . .who, by the way, had been chairman of the program committee. . . .giving a clever impersonation of thiscome-up-and-see-me-sometime-girl of the last century,” as Mrs. Dalrymple described her. “Madame Sand was noted for her loves more than her looks,” the accompanying lyric revealed: “She loved a lot of gentlemen, and wrote a lot of books. She traveled here, and traveled there, saw lands both near. . . .and far. And always with her luggage were a lover and cigar. She fell in love with Chopin, with De Musset, some said Liszt. In fact, the nineteenth century saw very few she missed. Though pious dames condemned her for her democratic stand. They almost died of envy when they thought of Madame Sand. . . .”

The following photograph illustrated Famous Women March in Review in Tableaux at the Institute of Arts, by Florence Taaffe, published in The Minneapolis Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota) of Saturday 4th November 1933:

George Sand in Tableaux

Mrs. James C. Wyman as George Sand - The Minneapolis Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota) - 4 November 1933

Mrs. James C. Wyman appeared as George Sand in the program of tableaux depicting “Never Revealed Antics of Famous Women” at the annual luncheon meeting of the Friends of the Institute Friday afternoon at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. She was also chairman of general arrangements for the program.

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