…life on the synaptic firing range

Location: Los Angeles, United States

Bent but unbroken Southern California native seeks understanding, companionship, and resonance along and off the beaten path. Teresa plays well with others and makes every effort to perform to her potential. Usually. *processed in a facility that processes nuts and nut products

Sunday, August 13, 2006

cleavage crossing

It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be—nor was it as "bad" as I thought it would be, like, you know, bad in a good way. I had put it off for years, always making excuses when confronted with the issue: "Oh, I have other plans" or "I can't afford it today" or "I'd love to, but I've given up food."

Nevertheless, I knew that one day I would have to go to Hooters.

Working for the Gay Agenda™ as I do, one might expect that it would be all too easy for me to enjoy a Hooters-free lifestyle. Au contraire! Ever since the chain opened a Hollywood Boulevard location, just steps from my office building, I've been under enormous pressure to submit to the traffic-cone-orange NASCAR-dadness of it all.

My gay male coworkers, it seems, can't get enough of the joint—and the Hooters Girls can't get enough of them. The gay boys wink at the HGs conspiratorially: We get it, they seem to communicate telepathically, we can appreciate the irony and campy theatricality of the situation. And we will wildy overtip you.

But the scenario is far more charged for a lesbian since many, though not all, straight women believe that all lesbians want them, and these women, the ones who think lesbians indiscriminately lust after all women, seem alternately fascinated and repulsed by the idea of being an object of lust for women, even if they've gone out of their way to objectify themselves to the world at large.

So when I walk into Hooters—as I was compelled to do Friday when my very best work friend chose to celebrate his final day at the company with a heaping plate of hot wings—my whole demeanor has to say, "I'm so not here for the scenery," which isn't hard for me, because Hooters Girls are so not my type*.

*A word on "my type": A coworker of mine used to constantly bring magazines to my desk to show me "hot" girls, trying to suss out what he must have judged my unfathomably peculiar taste in women. I would shake my head and send him away every time, thinking that he'd one day realize he wasn't going to find my dream girl in the pages of Maxim, but the dear boy kept trying, for all his effort managing only to further delineate the difference between gay male and lesbian ideals of womanhood. (For the record I'll state here that I have on more than one occasion admired a dyke from afar only to realize on closer inspection, and with a fair amount of chagrin, that I'm sizing up a boy—and one who might be underage at that.) Suffice to say that my type, inasmuch as I'll cop to having one, would not be invited back for a second interview at the Hooters hiring fair.

Once seated, though, I thought Hooters seemed like almost any other noisy, gimmicky chain restaurant, the main difference being that the wait staff was far less dispirited than the typical white-shirted and aproned college kids who might inhabit the Planet Hollywood galaxy. Our server, Danetra, was friendly and enthusiastic, and three other Hooters Girls who stopped by—it's a sort of tradition, I gather, that HGs visit parties outside their own stations to spread the love, signing your table ticket while they mingle—were equally bubbly, and not in an airheaded way. I imagine we might have collected more HG autographs had we been a party of businessmen instead of three gay guys and two women, but we were shown quite enough attention for my taste, and the attention was kind, not teasing or demeaning—to us or to the HGs in question.

At the end of the day I was left to question why I had stood my anti-Hooters ground so fervently.

Could be that I was brought up in a family atmosphere where any display of female sexuality was characterized as exploitative and demeaning. Watching movies with my mom as a kid, I dreaded any hint of female nudity. A single exposed breast would turn her mood dark, her sudden, palpable anger throwing the whole family in to a state of discomfort. And need I note that she had absolutely no tolerance for the idea that a man really might read Playboy for the articles?

I remember being in the car with her once, I was maybe 13, when she spotted a nasty magazine lying in the middle of a busy street. She wheeled the car around and approached it as slowly as she could given the traffic—maybe 15 mph—and she instructed me to open the car door and pick it up as we passed over it. You have to hand it to her precision driving—she positioned the car perfectly so that I could open the door and scoop up the offending literature without a hitch.

Imagine our surprise when we saw that the flesh she had spotted from a moving car belonged to a fully erect man and that the magazine was Honcho, a gay men's skin mag. We laughed as she sped away, feeling conspiratorial, like we had not only performed an important anti-smut service but were being a little naughty ourselves in the bargain. On our way home we drove through the alley behind a grocery store to dispose of the magazine in their gigantic garbage bin—she didn't want any neighbors to find it in our trash—but we furtively flipped through its pages before tossing it away, embarrassed and thrilled by its contents.

During my brief, brilliant career as a copywriter in gay male erotica, I found myself equivocating: Men are exhibitionists, I reasoned, and there's nothing exploitative in providing an arena for their exhibitionism. But it strikes me now that defining displays of male sexuality as mutually agreed upon exhibitionism and female displays as exploitation is terribly anti-feminist. It discredits any female who cares to exhibit her sexuality, and doubly objectifies women who participate in erotica—or work at Hooters—by discounting their free will. Women are too complicated to be sorted into my mother's absolute categories of saints, whores, and victims.

I actually like Hooters of America's coy "Who, us?" corporate stance on their image, as taken from the "about" section on their official site: "The chain acknowledges that many consider 'Hooters' a slang term for a portion of the female anatomy. Hooters does have an owl inside its logo and uses an owl theme sufficiently to allow debate to occur over the meaning's intent. The chain enjoys and benefits from this debate."

Despite any grudging slack I've extended toward Hooters since my fateful Friday lunch, I'm not sure I'd ever be inclined to go back. The food was ordinary and overpriced, like almost any other noisy, gimmicky chain restaurant, and I had a tough time finding menu items that weren't deep-fried. But Hooters Girls, while still not my type, are another story entirely. I think I'd be happy to hang out with just about any of them anytime. And if they promise not to jump to any unfounded conclusions about my trying to get inside their little orange shorts, I promise to give full faith and credit to their judicious exercise of free will.


Blogger treecup said...

So how do you feel about the "Pink Taco" restaurant chain?

11:29 AM  
Blogger scout said...

Here's how oblivious I can be: Years ago we ate at the Hard Rock Hotel location in Las Vegas and I had not a clue what the name meant. We just thought, "Oh, Mexican food sounds good." Review: The food was ordinary and overpriced, and the environment was deafeningly loud.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Stokley said...

Reading your blog is great. I like your insights along with the sense of humor you bring to it. I completely understand the whole Maxim/FHM thing. I have guy friends who are constantly showing me "typical" hot girls and while I think they are ok, they're not the type that get me going.

2:46 PM  
Blogger sporksforall said...

I was invited to the above shindig and had to decline because I had a five hour meeting during which I ate (for lunch) two bagels and some canteloupe. I had no existential crisis and nothing was fried. I'm glad for it, but glad, too, to have this vicarious opportunity to visit.

4:56 PM  
Blogger Slangred said...

I've been to Hooters once, in Jacksonville, FL in 1988. I was there to drink, along with my college roommate and 4 or 5 Navy boys, among them the-sailor-who-broke-my-heart©. Nothing much stands out now about the experience beyond all the beer. I do remember thinking it weird that the girls were wearing shiny "suntan" nylons underneath their little orange shorts. It seemed uncomfortable to me. And it looked strange.

6:29 PM  
Blogger scout said...

Yes, according to the Hooters of America corporate site, the nylons are mandatory. Prolly a good thing given how high and tight they wear those little Dolphin-type shorts.

10:11 PM  
Blogger weese said...

I have always imagined Hooters as a sort of Ruby Tuesdays with boobs.
I don't really like Ruby Tuesdays so I don't imagine I will ever go to a hooters for that much as I do like boobs.

Our son goes. He likes it. I would imagine thats because he likes Ruby Tuesdays type of food in addition to boobs. so that works for him.

10:22 AM  
Blogger WenWhit said...

I have never gone, nor desired to go, to Hooters. Thanks for the sneak peek.

I have to admit, I find your mother telling you to lean out of a moving car of greater concern than the long-lasting effects of her efforts to rid the world of smut one magazine at a time.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Your mother looked at the boy smut mag before throwing it out, now that's very telling.

4:01 PM  
Blogger Slangred said...

I agree with elizabeth that it's quite interesting to me that your mom looked at the gay porn before ridding her world of such "smut."

I also agree with wenwhit that it was a red flag to me that your mom would risk your physical safety to ensure your "moral" safety, although even there, she allowed you to shar in the porn-gazing before discarding the mag. ?

And finally, I can't get over my glee at weese's comment about Ruby Tuesday with boobs. Wait for it...wait for it...: Booby Tuesday's!!! (I know, I'm guilty--I can't resist punny wordplay. But there it is)

11:47 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

LOL. Booby Tuesday. That's such a punny wordply score, Slangred.

12:25 PM  
Blogger bryduck said...

I must admit, I didn't at first know what to say to this entry. I am a full-bore breast man to the extent that my wife is continually dumbfounded and dismayed by my refusal to acknowledge that some breasts might be too large, or that fake boobs should be just as visually offensive to me as they are tactile-y weird.
That being said, when face-to-breast with them in "public", I am quite uncomfortable. Strip clubs make me squirm; I can never relax enough to enjoy any of it, and Hooters is just a single step above one of those, imho. I am constantly thinking, "Are these women oppressed? Are they incapable of finding other work? Are they empowered? Are they the scarred remnants of some psychological trauma? Are they enjoying this? Are they offended that I'm not enjoying this? etc."
You can see how unturned-on anyone would be having these thoughts constantly firing in one's brain. I am therefore attracted and repelled simultaneously, and this cognitive dissonance is impossible for me to resolve, so I strive mightily to avoid situations or places that evoke it. I don't even know if admitting this makes me a better, or worse, man/human being, so I welcome any responses that help me get a grip!

10:10 AM  
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