Cry of frustration often uttered by middle-aged males to the pubescent males that they accidentally made one night while on vacation. It is heard less now, but it was once extremely popular and may very well hit a new peak sometime soon. In order to understand some of the complex emotion buried inside this phrase, one must consider it in its full context. The words themselves scarcely convey the true meaning.

Imagine a scene. Father and son are having an argument, or at least a clash of views on an issue, personal or otherwise. The lad is nearly at the breaking point. He can't understand his old man, and why he insists on making arbitrary laws to rule the kid's life. Though just a few decades older than his child, the father is out of touch. How hip he was in high school and the way he spent the early part of his life are at best partially irrelevant to the current situation. Naturally, the dad refuses to admit this, even to himself. After all, he's a totally together, A-OK sort of guy.

Eventually his elder's viewpoint seems completely absurd to the boy. Finally, it happens. The boy snaps, and makes a comment about how completely pointless it is for dad to compare his childhood to this day and age. Depending on the boy's intelligence, this remark can be subtle or extremely blatant. Depending on the boy's command of tact, this remark can come out just once, or during every single conversation. In any case, the building pressure causes this to happen at least some point during discussion between the two parties.

The father is hurt, seeing at least a glimpse of the truth. He is old. He is disconnected. He is warned of his own weakness and mortality. He intends to scream, but instead this, this comes out:

'Don't take that tone with me, son,'

In this brief, simple sentence, many things are stated. Among them, the ones that can be put into words, anyway, are these:

  • 'How dare you talk to me that way, you insubordinate bastard!'
  • 'Aren't you snide for a fellow that still lives with his parents,'
  • 'I cared for you for all these years, and this is my reward?'
  • 'I am the master. I carry all the keys to the locked doors ahead of you, and I can bloody well throw them away,'
  • 'I may be old, but not too old to open up a can of whup-ass,'
  • 'You are nothing!'

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