When did I become a "bro?"
Not a brother, a "bro." As in, when I walk into my favorite local taco place, and they ask, "s'up, Bro?"
I look around. Did someone walk in after I did? Is there a frat boy with a backwards baseball cap and sunglasses pushed up on his forehead behind me? A hipster wearing skinny jeans and a flannel shirt in 90 degree weather?
Nope, it's me. I'm the only one there.
I'm the "bro."
And this guy, who's also wearing a backwards baseball cap and sunglasses on his forehead, is talking to me.
"So you want some tacos, Bro?"
I hate being called "bro."
It's awkward and overly familiar, like me and my new bud should be gym posing with other frat boys, proudly displaying our puka shell necklaces and tribal tattoos. And now this guy thinks we're bros, and should address each other as such.
Except I will not.
"Son, I'm twice your age."
"Son? You're not my father."
"Yeah, and I'm not your brother either."
Except it doesn't happen that way. I'm more polite than that. Instead, I'll just sit quietly and eat my really dope steak tacos. Later, I'll complain about it to anyone who'll listen.
"Hey, Bro, d'you like the tacos!" my taco bro calls after me, as I leave. "Was I right about those steak tacos, Bro?"
"Yeah, they were totally dope, Bro! Thanks for the dope tacos, Bro!" I shout back.
No, I don't. That's a lie. I could never do that. I'd feel like an idiot. I've never been comfortable using slang, other than calling things "awesome," or using a well-timed swear word. Maybe I should try 1920s slang instead.
"They're the bee's knees, and how!" I'll shout to the big cheese. "Don't take any wooden nickels!" Then I'd ankle it out of there, and make tracks back to the mill.
The only nickname I ever use is "dude," and even then, you have to earn it. I call my 13-year-old son "dude." As in "hey, dude, can you mow the lawn?" Or "Dude, don't stand in front of the TV!" And I call some of my friends, "dude." But I don't go scattering it around indiscriminately, like pearls before swine bros.
It's not that I don't like nicknames, it's that I can't pull them off. When I use slang, I sound like Leonard Hofstadter trying to sound "street." I can't reel off a "s'up, bro?" or "nice hat, Vincent van Bro," partly because I'm not cool enough, but mostly I just think it's idiotic.
"Hey, Man, what can I get started for you?" my barista asks me.
"I'd like a latte, Other Man."
What do I say to a grown man calling me "man?" Referring to him as "barista" just seems dismissive and rude.
"Barista, I require a tankard of your finest coffee! Prithee, where is thy organic sugar?!"
"It's over there, next to the creamer, dawg."
If there's anything I hate more than "bro," it's "dawg." I've got so much gray in my beard that Gandalf is giving me the stink-eye. So what makes you think I would answer to "dawg?"
I'm also not fond of "buddy," "my man," or "homey."
So why do these damn hipsters keep addressing me like we're peers? Broskis drinking some brewskis? Broseph and the Amazing Technicolor Bro-Coats?
I appreciate that you think I'm youthful and hip enough to be addressed like we're in the same posse, or whatever you young people call it. But it's a little disconcerting when AARP has me in their "almost there" file, and some of my high school classmates are already grandparents, but my bartender wants to know if I want to play hacky sack and listen to Phish.
It's not that I think I'm better than everyone else, or that I just want these kids to get off my lawn. I'd just like to be addressed like a normal adult who doesn't live in his parents' basement, or in a beer-stink house with six other 'roided-out dudebros who spend all their free time at the gym.
I just hope they avoid the worst possible insult anyone could direct at me. Something that's sure to ruin my day, and possibly even the worse.
"Can I get you anything, sir?"
Oh man, that's the worst! "You're killing me, bro!"
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons)
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