Continental, the East Village bar that’s notorious for its deal of five shots for $12 (it used to cost just $10), has started policing the language of its patrons.
The dive bar’s owner Trigger Smith put up a sign last week stating that anyone in the establishment who utters the phrase “literally” will have five minutes to finish their drink before being required to leave, and those who begin a sentence with “I literally” must immediately exit the building.
The sign drew a good amount of pushback on Twitter, with some users claiming that the sentiment is misogynistic. Smith, however, claims that the whole thing is a joke and that his staff has not actually kicked anyone out for saying “literally.”
“My bar would be empty if I enforced the sign,” he said over the phone. “How could I mean that? How could I be serious?”
“I literally feel sorry for anybody who would take this seriously,” he added.
Even so, Smith does take issue with the overuse of the phrase in general.
“If you watch TV shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians or The Bachelor, every third word they say is ‘literally,’” he says. “It's contagious. You even hear newscasters on CNN saying it.”
The widespread use of the word literally to mean figuratively is nothing new. NBC’s Parks and Recreation satirized the trend with the introduction of Rob Lowe’s character, Chris Traeger, in 2010. The phrase’s alternate, nonliteral definition has also been added to the Merriam Webster dictionary.
Smith says he meditates daily and diagnoses the overuse of “literally” as a mantra of sorts.
“I think that it's a word that feels good to say,” he says. “I think this particular combination of syllables literally feels good rolling off the tongue.”
Continental is set to shutter this year due to a new development at its location. The exact date isn’t yet finalized, but Smith says it will be June 30 at the earliest.
Until then, New Yorkers can expect the bar to continue to stir up shit, just as it’s done since it opened in 1991.