Monday, June 19, 2006

COLUMN: Hooters

As the prominent and beloved Quad City literary figure that I know I'm not but pretend to be, I figure it's my calling -- nay, my DUTY -- to live the good life. I need to smell wine and be able to talk about its woodsy bouquet. I need to join outing clubs and take, err, outings. I need for the staff at Deere Run to affectionately call me "Mr. B."

Surely these things will come with time. For now, I simply need to be seen at the gathering places of the Quad Cities elite. That's why my best friend and I embarked last week to a night of fine dining at one of the QC's classiest of restaurants. You guessed it, we dined at Hooters.

Known far and wide for its exceptional service and stellar menu, the reasons to walk into Hooters are limitless. Well, kinda. Okay, let's be honest. Truth is, there's only one reason why people go to Hooters:

That's right, the grilled mahi. Which might have been succulent and tender. It might have been the best morsel of food to ever pass my lips. Then again, it could have tasted like a day-old fish stick left in the sun. Frankly, I could have cared less about the fish. I guess a was a bit distracted. See, it turns out that what people REALLY go to Hooter's for is, umm, hooters.

HI, KIDS! Knowing this to be a family newspaper, there are times when I like to give a special shout out to my younger readers! And, in case you kids were wondering, back in that last paragraph, when I was talking about hooters with a small 'h,' obviously I was talking about our friends, THE OWLS. Here's a fun fact: Did you know that most owls are nocturnal? Can you say 'nocturnal'? That means they come out at dark. That's why sometimes daddies don't come home from Hooters until VERY late at night.

Oh, forget it. "Hooooo" am I kidding? Kids are welcome at Hooters, too -- they must be, because they have a chidren's menu. Yep, Hooters is great family fun -- provided, of course, that you're the Hefner family.

It's at places like this that I am TRULY at my most awkward. What's the proper behavior at a Hooters? Are you supposed to just sit there and LEER at the Hooters Girls? I mean, isn't that the whole point? But as I looked around the restaurant, I didn't see anybody else leering. In fact, I saw nothing but a bunch of other guys struggling to look nonchalant while being waited on by girls wearing clothes that might fit a 7-year-old.

Truth be told, Hooters is a savvy business empire. They've spent years perfecting their scheme, and for the most part, it works like a charm. When a customer sits down, they're immediately waited on by a babe from the Island of Improbably Attractive People. Your Hooters Girl sits down next to you and spends a great deal of time pretending that, in her eyes, Average Pathetic You is, in fact, the greatest thing to ever walk into her life. For one shining moment, YOU ARE BRAD PITT. Until she stops flirting long enough to get your order, and then *poof* she's vapor.

At least, that's how it SHOULD have worked. That's how it worked at every table I watched EXCEPT ours. Instead, our Hooters girl sat down, asked us what we wanted, and then left. No flirting. No idolation. She might have been a Hooters Girl, but we ended up feeling like Denny's Guys. This was, needless to say, a massive boost to our collective ego. I mean, how nerdy must we be to not even elicit PHONY flirting?

The guy next to us was having a bachelor party; his Hooters Girl was writing on his custom t-shirt, "You look HOT! Too bad you're taken!" MY Hooter's Girl forgot my soda. Life is cruel. But not as cruel as what happened next.

After we ate, a DIFFERENT Hooters Girl plopped down at our table. This one had the flirting down to a science. She complimented me on my t-shirt ("Medium Pimpin',") she talked about the weather, she batted her eyes. Suddenly we were feeling better. THEN out of nowhere, she plopped down an armful of trinkets. Hooters magazines, Hooters cards, Hooters shot glasses, Hooters mints -- it was a veritable cornucopia of needless junk. And her job, of course, was to sell it to us.

The sales pitches went from impressive to desperate. She even talked about the high quality of plastic used in their shot glasses. I swear at one point she started reading the ingredients off the box of mints. Then it hit me: to them, we weren't JUST hapless nerds, no -- we were hapless nerds who were EASY MARKS to buy junk.

I felt insulted. I went into Hooters looking for a shot of confidence, and I left feeling more pathetic than when I walked in. But I should look on the bright side. At least the next time that I need a shot of confidence, I've now got the high quality limited edition plastic shot glass to put it in. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a flirt.

1 comment:

Becky said...

Hee. I told ya my feeling on this one. Still no answer to that, which I will take as implied agreement. ;P (I've been to Hooters once. We had a party for my cousin Dave's birthday there. Owen was five at the time, and informed me once we were in the car that "Those were Hooters? They weren't very big, Mom.")