from Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye, Chapter 4:

He looked around and yawned. “I haven’t been sleeping well. It’s nice in here. But after a while the lushes will fill the place up and talk loud and laugh and the goddam women will start waving their hands and screwing up their faces and tinkling their goddam bracelets and making with the packaged charm which will later on in the evening have a slight but unmistakable odor of sweat.”

I am confused by the term "packaged charm" here.

As first I interpreted the whole phrase "making with the packaged charm" as "turn on the charm which is as insincere as packaged food." But a simple Google search of "packaged charm" returned a bunch of "a small ornament worn on a necklace or bracelet", which also make sense to me...

I am not a native speaker of English and wonder how native speakers render this sentence.

  • 2
    A charm bracelet would never have one charm, but many, and they do tinkle when moved. The more interesting read is your own, that their charm was artificial and wore out its invitation as the evening proceeded. Not packaged specifically like food, but instant or canned instead of heartfelt. Jan 27 at 15:52

As it happens, Oxford English Dictionary (paywalled) uses the quote from Chandler's The Long Goodbye (1953; 1971 linked) to attest their sense 2 of 'packaged', adj.:

Put together as a single unit for sale, presentation, etc.; presented in a particular way, esp. for promotional purposes.
 1953 R. Chandler Long Good-bye iv. 22 The goddam women will start..making up [sic] with the packaged charm.

The sense OED presents for 'packaged' is accurate for Chandler's use of 'packaged' in the quote. In context, the packaged 'charm' is not a charm such as might be found on a charm bracelet (which may have one or many charms attached), but rather a figurative sense of 'charm':

Any quality, attribute, trait, feature, etc., which exerts a fascinating or attractive influence, exciting love or admiration.


The use of 'make with' (here in the form "making with") is US slang, meaning

To bring into operation; to use, affect....

op. cit.

Women of the sort Chandler described were likely to wear multiple bracelets, on one or both arms, which explains the "tinkling their goddamn bracelets".

  • The term 'packaged charm' brings 'dimestore damsel' to mind. Jan 27 at 23:32

It means conventional, pre-fabricated, standard, ready to be exploited when needed.

And NOT natural, spontaneous, or sincere.

Your gut feeling was close.

  • Sources please. Jan 27 at 18:09
  • @FeliniusRex Of what?
    – Ricky
    Jan 27 at 18:43
  • To justify your answer, of course. Jan 27 at 18:46
  • @FeliniusRex: You don't trust me?
    – Ricky
    Jan 27 at 21:43

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