"" Writer's Wanderings: Is Rejection Like Being 86'd?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Is Rejection Like Being 86'd?

The other night I heard the term "86'd" on a television program. I knew what the term meant but wondered how it came about. I did a little research and found to my dismay that there is no real point of origin for the term. Rather, there are several speculations as to how the term came into use--most of which have little to do with the meaning today which is to get rid of, do away with, or no longer allowed.

In researching, I found most sources referred to it as a retaurant or bar code. The most popular theory is connected to a speakeasy bar during Prohibition called Chumley's. By coincidence the address of the speakeasy was 86 Bedford St. in New York City. Instead of yelling "Nix it! The cops!" the bartender or lookout would yell, "86" and the patrons knew to exit by an alternative door to avoid being arrested.

Other references include 86 as a code for running out of a particular drink at a soda fountain. Another referred to Delmonico's steak restaurant where the famous steak was #86 on the menu and when it ran out, the order was said to be 86'd.

Another idea came from the time of the Depression when soup kitchens and breadlines were familiar sights. It was said that a soup cauldron could only hold 85 cups of soup so the 86th person in line was out of luck.

I guess if getting a piece of writing rejected is being 86'd then I'm be glad that at least I can still get a cup of soup since I don't rely on profits from publishing to feed the family. Thankfully I have a husband for that.

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