Dude, Is It OK If I Call You Dude?

“Do you have a Barnes & Noble membership, boss?”

I have noticed lately that baristas, waitstaff, and on Monday, a clerk at a Barnes & Noble in Santa Monica, have all been addressing me in terms of endearment like bro, man, and dude. Apparently, I am not yet a “sir.” Which makes me feel good, at 32, almost 33. I wear open-toed footwear all year until temperatures make it impossible, dress mostly in T-shirts and jeans, and have semi-long hair that grows out with no strategy, held out of my face by sunglasses. Pretty much your standard outdoor/climber/skier/mountain guy, minus style.

Also, I start many sentences with the word “dude.” Maybe you do too.

Does this make you a dude? Bro?

I mean, I am not this dude:



I went to college. Twice. I have a master’s degree. I am no renaissance man, but I am not that uncultured. I have read books that weren’t assigned to me for a class, sometimes big, several-inches-thick books by Russian writers, even. I sometimes listen to jazz. I drink espresso. I properly pronounce things like “pho” and “caprese.” But that just leads to sentences like this coming out of my mouth:

  • “Dude, you have got to try some of my paneer mahkani.”
  • “Dude. Are you seriously telling me you have never read A People’s History of the United States?”
  • “Dude, did you see The Tree of Life yet? Call me after you do. I want to hear your take on it.”

Last week, I did a search in my e-mail for the subject line “dude.”


That is, of course, just the past couple weeks.

I am conflicted. Do I sound like a … dumbass when I talk? Do I care if I sound like a dumbass when I talk? How could I replace “dude” in my daily conversation? It has become an androgynous catch-all term of endearment for me. I regularly begin text messages to male and female friends with the word “dude.” I usually answer phone calls by saying “dude.” In the past few weeks, I have caught myself calling my friends’ newborns “dude.” Alas.



So, you know. I guess one day, I might be too old to say it so often, or at all. It might just gradually work its way out of my vocabulary. But I think it’s more likely that it will be triggered by a series of baristas calling me “sir.” And when that day comes, I will wonder what changed.



26 replies on “Dude, Is It OK If I Call You Dude?

  • Laidlaw

    Dude, let’s talk about the real issues here… there’s really no facebook page for “Fuckin A”? That shit needs to get rectified!


  • Rick O

    Dude, lately I’ve taken to spelling it, “dood.” Now that’s just stupid. But just so you know, my grandfather of 85 years addresses me as dude all the time, so the chances of you dropping it are slim. And the baristas will sooner address you as, duke than sir.

    Awesome article. When I saw myself in the email cue, I was like, “WHAAAAPASH!!!”

  • brendan

    See dude, we never talked about The Tree of Life. I thought parts of it were incredible. But, you know, dinosaurs.

  • Will

    I don’t say it as much as I used to now that I live on the East Coast (on that, ironically, the water is very far away from me, and more inaccessible for swimming than when I lived in Denver). Anyways dude, keep using it while you can, your speech will change organically if its ever going to. My last job rotation, the boss was “Mister …” and his boss was “Miss …” It was very different than when I worked in California and Colorado “Call me Rod” or “Alex is fine”. The West of the Mississippi crowd is just more laid back… Don’t ever change Western States!

  • Justin L. Graff

    I consider myself a semi-professional in the business world. I work as a fishing and hunting guide as well as a farmer. In addition to this I also run a very small business with my dad. Now the business is building and growing and because of it I am introduced to more and more people that are true business professionals. Most these professionals are older than myself but on occasion I run into one that is near my age. It happens seldom but when I am able to meet a person of a similar age and interest it is usually over dinner and on occasion our guard is let down someone will slip with a “dude” and I absolutely love it. I like to respone with a “DUUUUUDE!” back to them, and that is when I know I hve made a business connection that has a future for me. I guess I connect with, like and trust people who call me dude. Don’t call me buddy or guy or Sir or pal, for me it is eiter “dude” or “man” and you are in.

  • PFL

    Do you find yourself craving white russians? angrily explaining to people “that you’ve got a beverage here”?

    If so, you may be suffering from acute Lebowskitis, a disease first diagnosed in Los Angeles in the early to mid 1990s.

    I recommend you do think about it for a while, then go bowling.

  • Dave

    I work at a bank and go on sales calls to companies that make millions of dollars a year in revenue. Lots of my clients wear power suits and sometimes I have to dress-up like them. One of my fellow bankers is 55 years old and a Senior Vice President. He calls me dude. Where am I going with this? There’s NEVER a bad time or place to call somebody dude!

  • Chris K

    Dude, I totally didn’t understand the Tree of Life and, even after “investing” two hours, couldn’t bring myself to finish. Yes, dinosaurs. But … what?

    Oh, keep on with dude, Dude. They call me “sir” and I look over my shoulder trying to figure out who’s behind me.

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