Last evening my friend (who won’t let me use her name here, so I’ll just call her Sue) and I went out to dinner in a neighboring city. She had emailed me a few possible restaurant choices, and I had told her whatever she chose would be fine with me. We tried something new. Sounded like maybe an Irish Pub kind of place, judging from its name (which I won’t give you, because I don’t want to give them any free advertising). We now know it’s a chain, but at that time neither of us had ever heard of it. She chose it for its proximity to the mall we were planning to go to after dinner.
Now, I’m telling this story 24 hours after the experience, and I’ve been processing it the entire time and still am, so when you think, as you will, “why didn’t you just leave?”, or “why didn’t you say . . .”?, the answer is that I was somewhat in shock, partially traumatized. I did notice as we entered that the hostess (and maybe I saw a waitress or two at that time) was very scantily dressed – in a bikini-sized kilt and a tiny top with buxomness wildly overflowing and stomach bare. I think I might even have processed that early that this might be a Hooters kind of place, but we could eat quickly and get on with our shopping. I’ve never been to Hooters and have issues with the concept of such an establishment on so many levels. But here we were. Two fifty-something-year-old women in a nearly empty dining area. A few men drinking at the bar and maybe someone at one table behind me out of my view.
Our identically clad and equally overflowing young waitress took our order, and Sue returned to the car to get my jacket. When she came back the waitress was sitting comfortably at our table chatting with me. Then with us. I was so relieved when she decided it was time to go check on our order. How bizarre, I thought, but once or twice elsewhere I had had similar experiences, not with the bosominess but with waitresses trying too hard for a good tip.
She brought our food and, to my surprise and dismay, sat back down with us. We talked about shopping in the mall, about the dozens of big-screen TVs all around us all tuned to sports channels . . . I asked her if the waitresses had to be able to talk sports. She responded that all you needed to work there was just to be comfortable in the uniform. She proceeded to tell me I was pretty enough to work there. (This is a comedy. It’s OK to laugh!) I can think of two other things I might need to work there, but I digress. She talked about the scantily clad men’s restaurant the three of us should open together and what we would call it. She told us she has worked there 3 months and told us what it was like to get the job. The clientele there was almost exclusively gentlemen, she said. By now, I had figured that much out!
When she left again to print our bill, I explained to Sue the light bulb that had finally come on for me, because I could tell it still was dark to her - that the waitresses are paid (or maybe just tipped?) to sit with their customers as their visual entertainment. I don’t even want to imagine what the conversations might be with their regular clientele. As we left, there were still the men at the bar, but also one man sitting at a table alone. Well, not really alone. His waitress was hanging out with him. (Pun definitely intended.)
Sue told me later she was impressed with my conversation skill (I think I looked at the waitress as one of my college students), but she also laughed as she said she saw my Baptist church lady self working so hard to keep eye contact with the waitress. The church lady thing, I can’t say, but my eyes were definitely glued to that young woman’s eyes, except when I changed our conversation topic to all the TVs around the room.
I would love to have heard the conversation between the all beautiful, all 20-something, all bosomly-overflowing waitresses as we entered the restaurant, about which of them would serve the two grandmotherly women who just wandered in.
You know, I’m thinking now I should’ve probably changed my own name in this story.
photo credit: warner bros