The Thin Man Walks Into a Bar: A Wee Legend

Here comes a regular

It’s predicted to rain on landing/ I predict we’ll have a drink

Paul Westerberg

Once upon a time in the lost city of Atlantis, a thin man rolled up looking a little the worse for wear. This was probably only to be expected; after all he had been sequestered on a submarine for a period of 22 years, or was it 27. After that long at sea, who can really tell?

It was approaching Halloween, and the proverbial Spooky Lady’s Sideshow was in full effect. The barmaids were called Eyes and Baby, their real names we presume. Or was she Baby Blue? In any case, the thin man and Eyes made eyes, in an innocent way, at least so the story is told.

Groggy as the thin man was, he had had a specialized role down then on the sub. You see, he was a bit of a mechanic, a card shark. Now, a card shark can work clean as well, and the thin man worked clean down there on the ocean floor. He saved his best moves for away games, just like Mike McD in that film Rounders. That’s an oldie but a goodie!

In one corner of the bar stood a pool table, where, of course, the nine ball is always on. The thin man could play a bit, although Eyes sized him up quick. A game was proposed, a game for two players.

But of course no game is really ever between two players alone. Baby Blue was watching—a bit tough to tell her rooting interest. And the bar as a whole, the field so to speak, was tuning in to the frequencies of the game as the regulars made small talk and the travelers weak-tea passes at the local girls. Local girls are no push-over; sometimes folks get the wrong idea on that end. Certainly Eyes and Baby Blue could take care of themselves.

The game began; the thin man potted a few easy balls. Eyes surged back, she’d been around more than she looked. She was an expert at drinking what the punter was drinking. That’s a key part of the art of the barmaid, an underrated profession at the best of times.

The game was nine ball, what else? Eight ball is for rookies, a southerners game. The thin man hailed from the north and he knew a thing or two about sequencing. It goes with the territory of an undersea mechanic, after all.

The thin man was beginning to feel a bit ill–the combination of sea legs, Eyes’ Eyes, a cheeky Cognac or two, and the unfortunate wafts of burning tires from the docks (it all goes down on the docks, as is told), He carries on nonetheless, and takes a two ball lead when Eyes surges back, tying it up with only the 9 ball to go. It’s a touch and go situation. The skeletons muse over the action with as much interest as they can muster from beyond the great blue veil. The couple on the rail stops sniffing whatever they are sniffing, and ask the thin man to join them for a round. No time for that nonsense. Sea legs and beady cat eyes aside, the game is the game.

A couple of desultory shots bounce about as the players size each other up. Baby blue leans in; the skeletons whisper sweet somethings, even the bartender sneaks a peek. Everyone is getting paid, except the thin man. He is just there for the action.

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Notes on “Dude” Usage

Yo dude, he’s the stallion

Ween

Author’s Note: The following is essentially a piece of linguistic ethnography.  Here on the kyotokibbizer, we are interested in how language is used and how it evolves.  Today, we are taking a look at the word “dude.”  A comprehensive look at dude usage would, of course, rival War and Peace in length, and we only ever got to page 330 or so of that SOB.  Therefore, what follows is a breakdown of some of the most common dude variants as used between, primarily, the American male of a certain demographic complexion.

Dude” I think, goes back to cowboy culture and something called “dude ranches.” I don’t really know what a dude ranch is; naturally I know a bit about the modern use of the term.  Below are some examples of “dude in the wild.”  The examples given are intended as neither endorsement or critique.  Dude variants simply abide.

I. “Dude, what the f***?”  One of the classic dude phrases, this is used to register sincere umbrage, usually with a friend or “mate.”  Examples include: a friend says something unkind about a woman you both know, a friend steps in front of your putt on a golf course, a friend takes the last juice from your refrigerator without asking, etc. “Dude, what the f***?” is a little tart, however it contains an opportunity for the offender to climb down. Example:

Guy 1: Dude, I don’t know about that chick Tracy.  She’s blowing me off and she’s really becoming kind of a bitch.

Guy 2: Dude, what the f***?  You know Tracy’s a friend of mine and she’s cool people. Come on man.

Guy 1: Sorry man, you’re right. It’s just been a rough week.

Guy 2: Dude that’s totally understandable. We love you man—we got you.

Comment: Illustrated here is a principal of male friendship where guys can speak sharply to each other, offend for a moment, and just totally get over it the next second.  Guys marvel at women, who sometimes seem to drag this reconciliation process out for aeons, counting count themselves lucky, in this instance, to be guys. 
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II. “Duuuuuude.”  This is used when a guy sees a guy he knows and hasn’t seen for a while.  It is often coupled with a hand shake and “bro-hug” and/ or a slap on the back. Example:

Guy I (seeing his friend approaching): “Duuuuude”

Guy II: Hey buddy, what’s up man?

Guy I: Duuuude, how the f*** are you?

Guy II: Dude, it’s crazy to see you man.

Guy I: Dude, I know right.  So what are we doing?  Are we drinking yet or what?

Comment: Illustrated here is the multi-purpose functionality of both “dude” and “man,” which may seem interchangeable to the untrained ear, but in fact have  different nuances and ideal placements in male patter. And, a good long “duuuuuude” can be very satisfying to unleash. 
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III. “Dude, that’s not the way we need this to go here”/ “Dude, that’s really not gonna get it done,” “Dude, I need you to take a step back and check yourself for a second,” etc.  These are all part of the very wide set of phrases that a manager can use with a direct. Managerial theory is divided on whether or not “dude,” is acceptable in supervisory conversations of this sort and strong opinions exist on both sides.  I side with the “yes” camp, but only in a basically dude-centric culture. As a middle-manger for many years in a former life, I have many times said things very similar to the above, using the person’s name or just “hold on” instead of “dude” as nods to a cross-cultural workplace. But in my head, I’m saying “dude” every time.

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