I called someone dude last week. It wasn’t the first time, and I still feel pretty funny about it, but it seemed to be generally accepted by the other person without incident.

Admittedly, I’ve always been reluctant to address my male friends with that term, but apparently, it is slowly creeping into my lexicon. Maybe it’s an unconscious desire to come across as young and hip like I’m really with it, man…er…I mean dude. I still feel self-conscious using it as if someone’s on to me, thinking that I’m just an old guy that’s acting all wrong.

Looking back, I used to think a dude was something like a well-dressed city guy who comes out west looking for adventure but knew nothing about the customs and even knew less about cows, horses, or the proper vernacular. In the old movie westerns, the Gary Cooper or Joel McCrae character would show him the ropes, with much chagrin. Or be nicknamed Pilgrim, to quote John Wayne in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

We still see dudes to this day move into the wildness of a Socorro or Catron county ranchette to retire in the ‘real west’ and are so shocked when they find out many of the niceties they’ve come to rely on are not part of the ‘real west’, and there really are bears and mountain lions and wolves outside the door.

You can sometimes spot them by how they are dressed. I can imagine them in huge Hoot Gibson hats and wearing chaps over their Calvin Klein jeans. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, and I really don’t want to make fun of people who appreciate what we have out here. But please, Wranglers will do fine, and you don’t have to invest a small fortune at the Man’s Hat Shop to find a decent cowboy hat. I guess they’ve got some pretty good ones there, but I’m still happy with the one I bought at the old Brownbilt 20 years ago.

And this is where ‘dude ranch’ comes in.

Back about five or six years ago I ran into a nice couple who relocated from someplace in northern New Mexico and started one up. It’s called Concho Hills Guest Ranch and it’s tucked back on the southern edge of the San Agustin Plains down at the lip of the San Mateo mountain range.

Based on the last five or six years, it seems they’re gettin’rr done up right. I’d be looking for a few days of riding and roping and shootin’ and jawin.’ And topping each day off with an old fashioned ranch supper of steak and beans, which means leave your keto diet at the cattle guard. Bring on the beef!

Plus, no pesky cell service or wi-fi, just a good old-fashioned landline.

I was talking with someone the other day about the time when making a telephone call meant you had to actually sit by the phone. Unless you had a long curly cord, of course. The telephone was black and heavy and wasn’t going anywhere, so the whole worry of losing your phone was non-existent. 

The small town I grew up in had a telephone exchange manned by a row of ladies sitting at switchboards who would say, “number please” when you picked up the receiver. The receiver, now there’s a term that’s totally gone out of our vocabulary.

Back when my parents were young a lot of people were still using phones that looked like a candlestick and had a mouthpiece-type thing you talked into with a receiver – there’s word again – that was something like an oversized ear-pod attached to a cord. Simple, I guess, but effective.

Anyway, that goes back to pre-dude days.

From what I can tell, the term ‘dude’ is replacing ‘man’ in the vernacular for the millennial and Z generations, so what once was ‘hey man,’ is now ‘hey dude.’ 

And there are, apparently, at least two ways to pronounce it: dood, or dewd, depending on with whom you are talking. There are also the variations, such as dudette, and according to Jeff Lebowski, there is also His Dudeness, Duder, or El Duderino (if you’re not into the brevity thing).

Here’s something else. You can be talking to either a male or a female, but dude is most commonly used for a man and is sometimes interchangeable with ‘bro.’

But you better be careful who you call bro because bro infers a commonality with the other guy, and if used incorrectly it can get you a punch in the nose. That’s what I’ve learned from TV.

Whatever you call somebody makes no difference, really, because we’re all in this thing together, doing our best to – paraphrasing Winston Churchill – keep cool and carry on.

With this being the first week of June, I’d say the keeping cool part is the operative part of that.