Friday, August 6, 2010



verb, slang

: to refuse to serve (a customer); also : to get rid of : throw out

In this term's etymology, the closest M-W comes to explaining the origin of EIGHTY-SIX is by linking it with the word "nix," meaning to veto or reject.

Other theories:

- some correlation with a NYC speakeasy, Chumley's, located at 86 Bedford Street; when they cops were on the way during prohibition, the bar tender would be called and warned to "EIGHTY-SIX" it
- in British merchant shipping the standard crew was 85 men, so the EIGHTY-SIXTH was left behind
- some fashionable NYC restaurant had 85 tables, so the metaphorical EIGHTY-SIXTH was offered to someone who wasn't going to get served
- item #EIGHTY-SIX on the menu at NYC's Delmonico's restaurant was the most popular and often ran out; the item? a rib-eye steak named after the restaurant
- some streetcar line ended at EIGHTY-SIXTH street, meaning everyone had to get out

Et cetera, et cetera. They just keep getting vaguer as I go along.

Customers occasionally get EIGHTY-SIXED at Whole Foods. The most notable in my remembrance is a woman named Mareka. Maraka was...interesting—about 5'2", rounded, definitely assisted in some way by the State, often galavanted around in long floral skirts and oversized cardigans draped crookedly over her shoulders. Her eyes seemed to gaze in two different directions and I never saw her without this clunky, battery-operated headset topped with an erect silver antenna that protruded from her disheveled hair. I have no idea what she was listening to—the motherland perhaps?

Mareka had a thing for honey. She used to come to our coffee bar, request a large cup of hot water, and proceed to the condiment bar where she would deposit about four ounces of honey into her cup. I guess I never really cared; I thought it was amusing and was sort of touched by the fact that this was all Mareka really needed to start her day. She paid her ten cents for the cup. Who was I to argue?

An old co-worker of mine—let's call her Lindsay because that was her name—was not as fond as I. Lindsay was of the spoiled brat, pain in the ass, whining sort. She had too much trust fund money and no aspirations. I think she only had a job because she wanted some way in which to pretend she could interact with other human beings. She often complained about Mareka to our store leadership, to no avail. After all, Mareka did pay for her cup, and the condiments were for paying customers. Lindsay would often yell at Mareka as she squeezed organic honey into her steaming cup. "MAREKA. You can't just take all of our honey! That's for people who actually BUY coffee." Mareka's eyes would look in all directions, and she would mumble something about her rights, squeezing away. While I saw Lindsay's point—the honey was kind of expensive—watching her try to get through to Mareka was funny as hell, kind of like catching someone having a one-sided conversation with their pet.

When Lindsay finally got through to the powers-that-be, Mareka got EIGHTY-SIXED for taking advantage of the condiment situation. However, she didn't deal with the rejection very well. A few days later she wandered into the store looking for revenge. Meandering down the cereal aisle she was spotted by another old co-worker—Neil? Nathan?—and reminded that she had been EIGHTY-SIXED and needed to leave immediately. Mareka proceeded to lift up her floral frock revealing her uncovered genitals and screamed, "THIS IS WHAT HELL LOOKS LIKE!"

She hasn't been back since.


  1. NOLAN. I only remember his name because he sometimes had his hotmail account still logged in, and it was 'Nolanvoid'. Clever little bug-eyed lurker.

    Perfect description of Mareka. I do love her so.