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Published: Monday, 7/27/2009

Dude, I used to be a 'man'

Welcome to the new Blade blog Culture Shock, a three-times-a-week riff by Pop Culture Editor Kirk Baird on pop culture news, events, and trends. The blog will appear Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings here, with the odd night or off-day posting if something is merited.

I was never a dude guy. I kinda-sorta embraced the expression, albeit briefly, as a junior high kid when Fast Times at Ridgemont High was all the rage. Sean Penn as stoner-surfer Jeff Spicoli stole the film from a talented young cast that included Jennifer Jason Leigh, Forest Whitaker, and Judge Reinhold, and in doing so made Vans, Panama Jack T-shirts, and dude requisites of the in-crowd.

So, for about three or four months of my seventh grade year, I peppered dude into my sentences whenever I could. I was particularly proud if I managed a dude two-fer, as in beginning and ending a sentence with the exclamation Dude! : Dude, can you believe that dude? And Dude, what re we going to do about that dude?

I quickly abandoned dude because I think I realized deep down I wasn t the dude type.

Not that being the dude type was bad whatever it was wasn t me.

A few years later I migrated to man. Man, for some reason, just came more naturally to me. So for years, I ve thought of myself as a man guy in an increasingly dude world.

But something odd happened a few months after I moved to Toledo a year ago dude crept into my vocabulary. It was a subtle change and, frankly, a bit awkward. I was fully aware of my usage of the term, as if I was forcing it. But gradually, it got easier, and more natural. Now, for whatever reason, I m as comfortable peppering a sentence with a descriptive or exclamation of Dude! as I am of Man! Sometimes, I even prefer the former to the latter. Life is strange that way dude.

Check out this Web site on dudeism.

Agree or disagree with a posting? Lemme know. Have a topic or suggestion? Lemme know that, too. Send an e-mail to kbaird@theblade.com or call 419-724-6734.



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