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Man, you guyses, we’re all dudes

October 10, 2010
tags: ,

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=cowboy&iid=237570″ src=”″ 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?”

20 Comments leave one →
  1. E Lis permalink
    October 10, 2010 7:23 pm

    As usual you crack me up.. I’m engaged you probably don’t want to ask, but we have come a long way. Anyhow, we research one urban dictionary the other day the definitons of ‘dude’ and ‘redneck’ and I just laughed. I also realized I can probably never use the words again, as the connotations made me sigh. Anyhow, dude did have a meaning ‘back in the day’ but not to some generations anymore.

    I do use y’all, but I am a mainly midwestern and partly northwestern gal.

    I still prefer ‘Hi…” I met with one of the new aids for my son’s school today while shopping as she was the cahsier and she started to say ‘ is that xyz.” I said “I’m the Mom who are you?!.” OK what ever did happen to manners and yes it regional, but still…Unfortunately, everyone knows my kid and I don’t know them and they should just introduce themselves!!!

    Hugs, healing white light, prayers and good thoughts! With love, Lisa

    • October 11, 2010 6:33 am

      Hey! Congratulations on your engagement, Lisa.

  2. Bemused Boomer permalink
    October 10, 2010 10:47 pm

    “Dude” was in use in the 1980s by California beach bums and pot smokers. Then it was popularized in a couple of movies (“Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” being one). I don’t know where it actually started, but I am surprised to hear than anyone still uses it!

    D-u-u-d-d-e—I’m glad to hear you’re doing better, guy!

  3. October 11, 2010 5:16 am

    I think “dude” took its time migrating up from California. Did you ever watch Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure? (Love that movie!) It’s from the 1980’s. I think every other word is “Dude”, and it’s used to convey multiple meanings. It’s sort of the boy version of Valley Girl speak. Like, I’m so sure! Whatever.

    Here’s my latest peeve: “also” and “as well” used in the same sentence. “Also up next, Rich will have the extended forecast as well.” Ack!!! And it’s not just the local news that does this.

    Anyway, funny post! Have a great day! 🙂

    • October 11, 2010 6:34 am

      I love the Bill and Ted movie. They used Dude the right way. =)

  4. October 11, 2010 7:33 am


    Amen, twice, dude! 🙂 A beautifully written post about an unfortunate truth about the way we communicate and interact. Thank you for the smile this morning. 🙂

    Jonnie Wright
    The Unsecret Shopper
    Des Moines, Iowa

  5. Sandy Bartell permalink
    October 11, 2010 8:12 am

    I keep thinking our language and slangi-isms can’t get worse but somehow they do. I await with breathless wonder what the next horrible expressions will be .

    • October 11, 2010 8:56 am

      I think they’ll consist of people saying letters out loud — lmao.

  6. October 11, 2010 5:12 pm

    For the proper use of the word “Dude” you need to see The Big Lebowski.

    • October 11, 2010 5:55 pm

      That is one scary looking puppy! Grrrr…..

      I have added The Big Lebowski to our Netflix queue.

  7. Ellen permalink
    October 11, 2010 8:23 pm

    I thought girl dudes were dudettes? Oh wait, I’m thinking of Smurfette.

    I don’t think I’ve heard anyone call someone dude here. That’s not to say that dude isn’t used. I’ve just not heard it. Or – maybe I’m just not dude material. Crude maybe, but not dude.

    I think I have dude envy.

    See ya, dudes.

    • October 12, 2010 6:58 am

      Maybe it’s because Canadians have manners?

  8. Thalia permalink
    October 16, 2010 11:08 am

    Enjoy reading your posts, Jill. I just passed my two year anniversary from my diagnosis and, like you, try to relish everyday. Your post today is a reminder of how to do that. Thank you. I live in the northwest too, but my Mom came from Appalachia and I have many relatives there that I visit every 1-2 years.. Y’all is singular. All y’all is plural. They have quite a few other interesting colloquialisms and metaphors, but having lived in Ireland for many years, I understand now the origin of many of these sayings. Enjoy the sunshine this weekend.

    • October 17, 2010 6:17 pm

      Hi, Thalia. Nice to meet you. Hang in there.

  9. Lynn permalink
    October 17, 2010 11:27 am

    Hello Jill, it was good for me to read your post today. I had my 3 month scan on Friday and didn’t drop of to sleep until 9:30 am this morning. Yesterday I wrote “I feel I’ve stopped living long ago and am just waiting for my body to catch up”. I feared for my mental health. Your courage is amazing and inspiring, and I enjoy your blog very much.

    Stage 3 Grade 3 Uterine Cancer PEI Canada

    • October 17, 2010 6:20 pm

      Wow. I feel for you. Hoping for good results for everyone.

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