DEAR ABBY: I had to write regarding the letter from "Disgruntled in Lompoc, Calif." (Dec. 28), whose pet peeve is waitstaff (in particular) referring to her and her lady friends as "guys."
Well, 3,000 miles away, I, too, am sick to death of being called a guy. When it happens to me, I tell my server that "the last time I looked, I was NOT a guy!" Sometimes they get it -- sometimes not.
I notice that on some of the TV shows I watch, even women refer to a group of people as "guys." I hate it -- and would ask you, with your worldwide influence, to bring the issue forward. We are NOT "guys." We are "people" or "folks" or "ladies and gentlemen"! Or else, Merriam-Webster will have to change its definition of "guys." Thanks for letting me vent. -- JACKI IN WILBRAHAM, MASS.
DEAR JACKI: I had no idea when I printed that letter that it would hit such a nerve with my readers, but oh, sister, have I heard from them! While I, too, would prefer to have my femininity acknowledged rather than to be called a guy, I would, however, not let it ruin my meal if it happened.
And, as to Merriam-Webster's definition of a "guy" -- my 11th Edition says in black and white that "guy" can refer to "any person" when used colloquially. Frankly, I found it so surprising that I looked in the American Heritage College Dictionary to see if there was agreement, and it also states: "Informal (ital.): Persons of either sex." Read on:
DEAR ABBY: As I have told my ESL students, "guys" is acceptable colloquial English. In the singular, it refers to a male, of course. However, in the plural it may refer to males, males and females, or even just females. -- NICK LONGO, RACINE, WIS.
DEAR ABBY: Almost 40 years ago, my wife's college roommates would tease her for using the phrase "you guys." (My wife was born in central California.) Our college chums were all from down South.
If familiar (perhaps overly familiar) slang bothers "Disgruntled," all she has to do is reply, "I'm not a guy. Are YOU?" Nothing will change behavior quicker than public humiliation. -- FAITHFUL READER IN FORT WORTH (OR AS WE SAY IT HERE, 'FOAT WUTH')
DEAR ABBY: Fresh out of college, I moved to Oklahoma from central Illinois to teach high school. In front of my first class I said, "OK, you guys, take out your books." The boys did, but the girls just sat there. That's when I learned to say, "Y'all" if I wanted the whole class to respond.
I hope "Disgruntled" isn't too offended. It's not meant to be disrespectful. It's a regional colloquialism. -- GRETCHEN IN SPRINGFIELD, ILL.
DEAR ABBY: I was at a restaurant once with two women and a male friend who happened to have longer hair than either of us at the time. Our server asked, "How are you ladies doing this evening?" only to be embarrassed upon learning the sex of our male companion -- who also happened to be the godson of the restaurant's owner. Sometimes it's better to be safe than sorry, and "folks" is the safe route. -- ROSE IN OAKLAND, CALIF.
DEAR ABBY: Why do young people insist on using that term? First, it is unprofessional, and second, are they blind?
My solution is to smile sweetly and ask, "Honey, do I LOOK like a guy to you? Because if I do, you need your eyes checked." This is just some "food" for thought. Thanks for letting me put my "tip" in. -- A LADY IN CUMBERLAND, MD.