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If you want to learn about the opposite sex, don't go to a singles bar. Go to a family-friendly place. Go to Hooters.

Wednesday, Dec 8 2004
There are a couple of things that bug me about the Hooters catchphrase, printed on the back of the tank tops that the babes wear. It reads, "Delightfully tacky yet unrefined." Astute grammarians will note that you cannot contrast two like meanings, as in "tacky" and "unrefined." They mean the same thing. But slowly it dawns on you that the Hooters people are trying to be funny and show how very lowbrow they are by not only offering bad English but also stressing the fact that at Hooters there is no alternative to skank.

Most disagreeable, though, is the use of the word "tacky." Hooters is not tacky. Christina Aguilera is tacky. T.G.I. Friday's is tacky. A 10-cent barrelhouse brothel from 1888 is tacky. But Hooters is not tacky. Hooters, gentle reader, is the aforementioned skanky, meaning overtly sexual with a pronounced ewwwww factor.

I was probably the only person in the place studying the sentence on the backs of the waitresses. Most other eyes were about a foot and a half lower, gently caressing the bright orange hot pants squeezed over oddly brownish and shiny pantyhose. This is where the skank factor comes in. There's just something "I'm from south-central Tennessee and I just discovered my clitoris!" about that look.

To be fair, this chain used to be really skanky, with bare midriffs and the bottoms of rounded breasts peaking out of too-tight tanks. Now it has dispensed with the bare midriff, and shirts must be tucked in. Butt cheeks, however, must always be Daisy Duked.

Hooters is a multimillion-dollar company fueled entirely by bad food, cheap beer, and skanky hos. It makes no sense to women.

That's the analysis from a female who graduated from a women's college. Let's move on to my male companions, Sudsy and Pedro. They were instructed to behave as they would in the wild, disregarding my company and saying or doing whatever popped into their heads. I needed to see Hooters through their eyes, gather information, then analyze the empirical data.

"HI!" said our waitress, bounding up to our table after we had been sitting there for about 15 minutes. She said her name was Rosie, but her name tag read Katelyn. She explained that she had lost her real name tag.

"Do you have Miller Lite?" asked Pedro, which has to be the dumbest question I've ever heard. When you wash your hands in the restrooms of this joint that's what comes out of the faucet. Rosie/Katelyn assured us that they did and so we then waited another 20 minutes for it to arrive.

Despite the T&A, it was sort of hard to get these guys to come back to this place, because their last foray had been so very embarrassing. Back when this boob bar first hit town, they thought it would be fun to show up on opening day at Fisherman's Wharf and check out the sitch. After all, no one they knew would be at Hooters. They walked in and sat down and started to take in the place, when all of a sudden they heard their names called out. Oh Shit. When they looked over, they saw an entire table filled with their friends, employees from the Hemlock and the Casanova, there for a birthday party. Now, it's one thing to plan a group outing to Hooters to try to be funny. It's an entirely different breed of cat to play off being two single guys showing up on opening day alone.

According to Sudsy, a fight had broken out that night. "A guy from one table said, 'Are you lookin' at my waitress?!'" he explained. "Then the guy from the other table said, 'You lookin' at my waitress?!'" Apparently they did the whole jump up and kick your chair out thing, only to be separated by an effeminate cook from the fry line.

Alas, there was no such fun on the night I was there, however, the manager did chew out our waitress for some infraction. Now let me tell you what the manager of a San Francisco Hooters looks like. He wears relaxed-fit Levi's and the trademark Hooters orange polo shirt tucked in. He has a shaved head and a long goatee, which he has dyed the same shade of orange. He looks like Alice in Restaurant Chains.

When our chicken wings came -- room temperature and capable of shattering car windows -- it was time to talk meat. Within the first five minutes of our arrival my companions had ranked the women in order of whom they would sleep with first. Our waitress came out on top, but the butt on another one was pretty monumental.

"One thing women need to understand about men," said Sudsy, wiping the hot sauce from his chin, "is that I don't think you really realize how visual we are. It's, like, 100 percent of our attraction is visual."

We womenfolk have all heard this in our sex education classes. But I wondered what exactly happens in the mind of a male when he sees something sexy and beautiful? Is it like how I feel when I see a brand-new, pristine crossword puzzle? Or when a new Jonathan Lethem book is released? Or, to put it in equal female terms, when I am flirting with a cute guy who tells me that he just loves to volunteer at the Humane Society walking the dogs?

Yes, yes, and yes. Seeing a beautiful sexual object for men, according to these guys, is a Christmas-morning rush that is hard-wired into their psyche. It makes them reach for their wallets and leave big tips. As obvious as that sounds to the males out there, we women really are struggling to understand this. Skank sells, and damn if the other half ain't buying.

"Good food, cold beer, and pretty girls never go out of style," the chairman of Hooters of America, Bob Brooks, told Fortune magazine last year. And who better to talk about style than a man who prides himself on being tacky yet unrefined?

About The Author

Katy St. Clair


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