While sitting at a mostly empty pub yesterday, I overheard two forty-going-on-twenty-year-old guys discussing selling their used cars. The louder of the two kept saying over and over again that he didn't want to go under seven grand. He listed the price as seventy-five hundred, but "seven grand, man, that's the lowest I would go."
He then proceeded to tell his listener how the eventual buyer had "Jewed him down to sixty-five hundred".
I hadn't heard the word 'Jew' used as a verb in over 20 years. I didn't realize it was still being utilized in that manner. But let's set aside the bigot implications for a moment and analyze the usage here.
A man (or maybe just a male of the species) is trying to sell his car via Craigslist or the newspaper. Though he likely paid 15-25 thousand dollars for it originally, he wants a new car or needs to pay the rent or requires cash for his meth habit and is thus willing to sell the vehicle unofficially for a return he hopes is better than trade-in value. He advertises his price of $7500 with the hope he'll find a buyer too frightened to bargain; but, just in case, he sets the bidding floor at seven grand.
Perhaps buyers are scarce in this economy or too much time passes and his ex-wife has hired a lawyer because she needs money for child support. At that moment a buyer comes along; a buyer who's done his homework and knows the car isn't worth 7K let alone 7.5K. So they negotiate, which is a common worldwide practice when buying and selling private goods. The buyer starts at six grand, the seller at 7.5.
Eventually the buyer makes it clear he will leave before he pays seven thousand dollars, since he can get the same model for less from alternate sellers. This seller, hungry to sell, shows his desperation too quickly and winds up taking sixty-five hundred in cash.
He's hurt. His dominance over the circumstance has been challenged and overcome. Upon relating this tale to another male of the species, he doesn't want to reveal his forfeited masculinity, situational embarrassment, and negotiation failure. Thus he uses, quite freely, what he thinks is an insult. But instead, to anyone within earshot, he advances his inadequacy. Not only has he lost financially and testosteronally, but he's revealed a void in his humanity.
To the seller: In your desperate attempt to demean a man who got the better of you in many ways, you deployed what you assumed was an epithet towards my people. You lowered yourself and thus elevated the object of your resentment. Congratulations, you failed again.