This must be an East Coast thing, because I’ve never heard it out here on the Pacific. I was first exposed to the phrase “a buck three-eighty” in Billy Joel’s song “Close to the Borderline” from the “Glass Houses” album, and I wondered what it meant.
The exact lines are:
A buck three-eighty won’t buy you much lately
On the street these days
And when you can get gas you know you can’t drive fast
Any more on the parkways
Since then, I’ve seen or heard strange monetary expressions like that in the context of mid-to-north-Atlantic Coast urbanites, and I’ve never understood what it’s supposed to mean.
Is it a transposition of the first two words, i.e. “buck three” means “three bucks,” so the whole phrase means $3.80? Or is the “eighty” an expression, and it really means $1.38? Or does it mean something else entirely? Where did it come from? Is it still commonly used? Is there a Noo Yawker or anyone else who can enlighten me?
“I’m not an actor, but I play one on TV.”