Nice: An oral history of 69 memes
When did 69 become ‘the sex number’? Why do some people feel compelled write ‘nice’ whenever it crops up on the internet? And has Elon actually gone and ruined 69ing for everyone?
A lot of people these days seem have a problem with the 69 meme. They say it’s juvenile, silly, overplayed. That even deploying so much as a perfunctory acknowledging ‘nice’ every time it crops up randomly in a comment thread is somehow trashy.
You know, 69. The sex number! A six and a nine, oriented like two consenting adults going down on each other with their filthy horny mouths. A cheerful numerical reminder of kinky play appearing to lighten up your twitter feed, or bland spreadsheet, or bus ride to work.
From whence did this innocent little meme spring forth?
ORIGIN OF 69 MEME
If this lewd and probably borderline-illegal snapshot from the Bronx Zoo is anything to go by, our primate ancestors were probably hungrily gobbling on each other’s bits since long before recorded history.
Still, the first time the act was formally codified in number form – digitised, if you will – happened in a 1790 book by a French lady. Well, technically Belgian. Mademoiselle Théroigne de Méricourt, indeed, was a prominent architect of the French Revolution.
In a charming book entitled Whore’s Catechisms – essentially a spotters guide to Parisian ladies of the night – Méricourt referred to the practice of mutual oral stimulation as ‘soixante-neuf’.
It’s unclear if, having liberated France, Mademoiselle Méricourt ever ventured as far south as Nice.
HISTORY OF 69 MEMES
The 1980s were, inarguably, the golden age of 69 culture.
Coke-addled funk pioneer Rick James dropped a gloriously unsubtle track by the named of ‘She Blew My Mind (69 Times)’ – no small achievement when you’re gakked up.
Way more famously, Canadian soft-rocker Bryan Adams – aka ‘The Groover From Vancouver’ released ‘Summer Of ’69’ two years later, in 1984. Was this gentle giant of the yacht rock scene deliberately referencing greedy mutual sexual gratification? Well, let’s get it straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak:
‘I think [“Summer of ’69” is] timeless because it’s about making love in the summertime,’ Bryan Adams told The Early Show in 2008.
‘There is a slight misconception it’s about a year, but it’s not. “69” has nothing to do about a year, it has to do with a sexual position…’
‘At the end of the song, the lyric says that it’s me and my baby in a 69. You’d have to be pretty thick in the ears if you couldn’t get that lyric.’
Having established this innocent two-digit number as a proxy for insatiable mouth-to-junk sexual jollity, all that was needed to add the term ‘Nice’.
Grizzled pop culture historians like to point to this episode of South Park. The episode – named ‘Miss Teacher Bangs a Boy’ – features a teacher having sex with a student. How did South Park cops react? They reacted by saying ‘Nice’.
President Obama, struggling in his second term to anoint Merrick Garland as a Supreme Court Justice, tweeted out a statistic suggesting 69% of Americans thought Garland deserved a hearing.
Cue the whole normiesphere learning about the meme, as countless wags chimed in with ‘nice’ in the comments.
Obama’s successor tweeted – possibly deliberately, possibly during one of his mid-morning adderall binges, who can say – that a Gallup poll ‘… just announced that 69% of our great citizens expect their finances to improve next year, a 16 year high. Nice!’
Anyway, the following year was 2020, so this prediction surely counts as a rare mis-step by the commander in chief.
The current torch-bearer for the 69/nice meme is almost certainly our lord and saviour Elon Musk, who loves pointing out to anybody who’ll listen that his birthday comes exactly 69 days after 4/20.
A rather funny writer in Vice suggests Musk ‘…is precisely the kind of person 69 belongs to now, the gleaming figurehead of a legion of crypto fanboys and Gen Xers whose dating app age range settings happen to dip down into the early 20s’.
Certainly, the good old days of commenting ‘nice’ in response to a spotting of the number 69 in the wild, and it marking you out as a cheeky scamp, are over. The very act of enjoying Musk’s favourite gag (get it) pretty much lumps you in with the founders of apartheid, right kids.
Which just kinda leaves a sour taste.
Can you get rich making memes?