Date: Sun, 30 Apr 1995 00:30:06 -0700

From: Anton Sherwood dasher[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]NETCOM.COM

Subject: "You're eighty-six, man!"

Matti Pitk{l{ mp54978[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UTA.FI says:

I watched the TV-series "Northern Exposure" the other day

and a character there used the expression "You're eighty-

six, man" to another, who had done some renovations at this

first character's house (well, actually it was a trailer),

and caused some water damages there. I understood this to

mean something like "You are a disaster, man". I wonder

though, were this expression comes from, and how well

known it is in the US? Would someone have a clue?

If I were told "you're eighty-sixed," I'd take it to mean

"you're no longer welcome here." (To whom did Chris say it?

Was that the episode wherein Chris inherited some money?)

From "The Straight Dope" (Cecil Adams):

| The term derives via a roundabout route from a number code allegedly

| in wide use in 1920s diners and soda fountains. 86 supposedly meant,

| "We're all out of the item ordered," said by the cook or some other

| honcho to a soda jerk or similar minion. By extension 86 came to

| mean, "Don't serve anything to the indicated party because he is

| either broke or a creep." (Presumably you see how a code would come

| in handy in such situations.) Bartenders later used the term in

| connection with any person deemed too hammered to serve additional

| drinks to, and eventually it came to have the all-purpose meaning

| we assign to it today.

| Other lunch counter code numbers (I rely here on the Morris

| Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins) include 82, I need a glass

| of water (80 and 81 at times meant the same thing); 99, the manager

| is on the prowl; 98, ditto for the assistant manager; 33, gimme a

| cherry-flavored Coke; 55, I crave a root beer; 19, I yearn for a

| banana split; and 87 1/2, check out the babe over yonder.

I think I've also heard "eighty-sixed" used of a broken machine, but

won't swear to it. Note that in "Get Smart", Don Adams played the

loyal but bumbling Agent 86 (and his smarter sidekick was Agent 99).

Anton Sherwood *\\* +1 415 267 0685 *\\* DASher[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]