Man, you guyses, we’re all dudes
[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=cowboy&iid=237570″ src=”http://view2.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/237570/thinkstock-single-image/thinkstock-single-image.jpg?size=500&imageId=237570″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]Today we went to the music store so Hank could buy some guitar strings. He went to the counter which was manned by a typical male music store employee.
“Hey, dude,” said the employee, “How can I help you?”
Hank explained what he wanted.
“Dude!” said the employee, “You should try these. They’re just as good and they’re on sale.”
Hank agreed that this was indeed a good deal and purchased the strings.
“Thanks, Dude,” said the employee.
Now, you must understand that although my husband has a western name he doesn’t fit the dude mold, so calling him a “dude” is linguistically inaccurate, although I know it’s the very height of fashion in slang at the music store — and everywhere else I go these days.
As we left the store I wondered out loud how a former acquaintance of ours gets along these days. His first name — on his birth certificate as far as I know — is Dude. I can imagine him out in public trying to figure out every couple of minutes if someone is calling his name. He didn’t fit the dude mold either.
Who fits the dude mold? Well, my understanding of the word is that it defines a man (although these days “dude” is also applied to females) — at any rate, it is a man who wears flashy clothing, or, more commonly, a man from the big city who goes out west and dresses like a wanna-be cowboy. These are the men who wear starched jeans and whose cowboy boots have never seen a pile of manure.
We ran into a true classic when we were visiting my father-in-law in the hospital. There had been a steady stream of relatives I hadn’t seen in years or had never met, so I was standing near the door to make room. I detected a new presence behind me. He came up to my shoulder (I’m 5’6″), and was in full “dude” cowboy regalia — string tie, starched plaid shirt, pressed jeans, and shiny black cowboy boots. I thought, “How cute. A little cowboy. I wonder who this kid belongs to?” Then he spoke.
“I’m doctor Zl****. You requested to see a pulmonologist,” he said in a heavy Ukrainian accent.
The Old West gets older every year, but still the dudes come from the far reaches of the world.
He has now been dubbed by my family “The Ukrainian Lung Cowboy.” He didn’t call anyone “dude,” though.
I suppose all the “dude-ing” is some sort of sick payback for my generation’s bad habit of calling everyone, men and women alike, “Man.”
“Hey, man, what’s happening?”
“Man” probably led to another over-used habitual way of addressing a group of people, “you guys.” Waiters and waitresses seem to be the worst offenders. Ironically they’re now called “the wait staff” lest anyone address them in a sexist way.
“Hi, you guys, my name is Tiffany” the waitstaffer will chirp, even if every one of the people at the table is female.
After the meal Tiffany must check to see if everything was satisfactory.
“How was you guyses’ meal?” she will inquire using a convoluted double-plural-possessive-sexist nightmare of a phrase.
I am always tempted to say, “We guyses liked it just fine,” but I’m afraid that would be considered perfectly acceptable and the waitstaffer wouldn’t bat an eye.
Apparently everyone in the US has forgotten that “Hi, my name is Tiffany,” without the supplemented “you guys,” is perfectly acceptable English, and that a simple “you” or “your” is grammatically correct when addressing a group of people.
Much of how this phrase is used is regional. I’m in the northwestern US so I hear “you guys.” In the northeastern US, the stereotype says you”re likely to hear “Youse guys” and “Youse guyses,” though that could be just in the movies. Those in the Southern US have a much less offensive way of addressing groups — “Y’all.” This is a non-sexist solution and also one that you would think would need no further plural. But no. When I was last in Alabama I heard, “All y’all.”
Circling the wagons back to where us guys started, I have no idea how far “dude” has spread, regionally speaking. I’ve heard it on television, so it’s in California. From there its tentacles will reach the ends of the earth. What will we get next? “Youse dudes”? “Hey, dudes, how was you guyses’ meal?” “Bless your hearts, where’d all y’all dudes get those adorable cowboy hats?”