Crime novelist Donald E. Westlake wrote many crime stories under the pseudnym Richard Stark. In one novel, a character says he knew an old man was on his way out when he noticed "the elevens were up." Another character asks what that means and is told it refers to the (muscles? ligaments?) at the back of the neck which become increasingly obvious as a person's fat melts away as they lose weight.
Has anyone else ever heard of this phrase? I can't find it on the internet, although it seems plausible.
I've never heard the phrase before, either, but I found it in a book by John McNulty (1895-1956). McNulty was a reporter for the New Yorker magazine in the 1930s who spent much of his time in Costello's Irish saloon on Third Avenue, which he immortalized in his 1941 book, This Place on Third Avenue.
The phrase is explained in the above book, as well as in World Through a Monocle: The New Yorker at Midcentury by Mary F. Corey (Diane Publishing, 1999):
and in article by Freebird Books:
McNulty has no Wikipedia article, as mentioned above, but his wife, Faith McNulty does.
Tony Smith (1912-1980) was an American sculptor. Two of his sculptures, The Elevens Are Up, and The Snake Is Out, were based on McNulty's phrases.
Thanks for the info, Tinman
I've vaguely heard it, but when I searched I couldn't find anything familiar. So I waited for others to answer, but nothing really seems to ring a bell. So...I must be wrong.