I've just bought a coffee. I can't help myself and I only notice once I've accidently said it. There's an uncomfortable slight silence and the bloke sort of looks at me with a 'don't patronise me fatty,' expression scrawled across his face. I try to undo the damage with a clarification: 'err, so yeah, thanks, bye'. Off I walk cursing myself, why the f--- do I keep calling people dude?
'Cheers, dude?' - I'm a grown man. I'm 32. I'm too old to be calling people 'dude'. It looks odd enough when Bill and Ted* do it. Imagine that oddness transposed into real life. It's not something people like being called. Imagine yourself being called 'dude' for no good reason by a man who looks like a chubby, hairy, cornish pasty. Not a pleasant experience is it? Certainly when it's so out of context. Then imagine the face of that bloke scrunching up into a sort of self loathing as he almost whispers the word back to himself with contempt and a question mark.
The thing about a minor faux pas like that is you can't apologise for it. Once you've got it out it has to remain there for all to see. There's no going back. You've committed yourself to the premise that whoever it is you're talking to is a 'dude', whatever that means and no matter how obviously untrue it is. The only way to deal with a verbal tick like this is prevention. Now I've noticed myself saying it I'm trying to filter it out. I just don't yet have a viable replacement. Feel free to post one in the comments section.
*Bill and Ted? Who are Bill and Ted? They're the characters who appear in "Dude, where's my car" amongst other things...