I always thought that, outside of the Playboy Club, pretty much the saddest, most tragic and demeaning restaurant a woman could ever work in was Hooters.
Last night, though, I learned that there is somewhere even more depressing than Hooters: a Mexican-themed Hooters knockoff. What's worse is that it was my idea to go there, sort of.
Last week was my friend Kristin's birthday. I haven't really gotten to hang out with her since we experienced the holiday horror of mouthless Santa (who climbs down your chimney ominously humming, "Hmm! Hmmm! Hmmm!" since he can't make an O), but she was being a little slow in picking a destination so I called her on Tuesday to force her into picking.
"Maybe Korean," she mused, while I thought, "Maybe not."
"That's a possibility. I mean, we could hit Korean or go for pizza, or maybe Mexican. What's that new place that Amanda took Miss Sandy to? The Spicerack?"
"Mexican Hooters? That's an awesome idea! I want to go there, and no one ever wants to go with me!"
And so we chose Mexican Hooters for Kristin's birthday.
Now, I wasn't totally sure what to expect, as I've only been to regular Hooters a few times, and the only time I went to one sober was with my straight boyfriend (long story; don't ask) for lunch because he wanted wings. I remember the food as kind of on the crappy side, a lot of TV's with sports on, and a lot of girls in tight shirts and hotpants. My straight boyfriend thought this was awesome, for some reason, and I thought the soup tasted kind of like greasy chicken wings and there weren't enough dessert selections.
What I'm trying to say is that I set the expectation bar for Mexican Hooters pretty low, and it still somehow seemed tragic.
Jeannie and I got there before everyone else, arriving together because I was driving, and the first thing we noticed was the collection of barely dressed waitresses lounging at the bar in tiny half shirts, black miniskirts, and boots. The second thing we noticed was the hostess' (spice)rack. Her shirt was cinched so tightly I wanted to check the back for whalebones, and her (spice)rack was pushed so high and forward that she could have smothered herself by looking down. I immediately felt guilty for noticing, and I don't even like (spice)racks. Poor Jeannie looked kind of mortified, especially after we were seating and I noticed that the Spicerack Cantina has strategically low chairs.
They put your eyes right at (spice)rack height by default, so you have to make a conscious effort to find the waitress' face and speak to that instead. Maybe I've worked in the politically correct college campus environment for too long, or maybe I'm just embarassed because I'm not used to speaking to girls who are doing their best to be sexually objectified, but either way I again felt tremendously guilty every time I had to answer a question and think, "Look up! Up!" as I turned my head.
Jeannie and I had a few minutes to look around while we waited for Bryan and Kristin to catch up, and that's when the real tragedy sunk in. The other tables at the Spicerack, except for the family seated next to us, were all men. They either sat in small, fratboyish trios and duos, or, somehow even more awful, alone. The loners seemed more awful because they were almost all older, and they all made no secret of ogling every waitress that walked past. I thought the guy sitting behind Kristin might have a heart attack when the waitresses all came over at once to sing her birthday song. His eyes were swinging back and forth like one of those kitty cat wall clocks where the tail goes one way and the eyes go the other.
The singing was later, of course. First, Kristin had to get there:
The Bryan had to listen in growing horror as Kristin explained that she somehow misread the email he sent offering to drive her because her apartment was on the way to his apartment and that way she could have a couple of drinks as him saying that he planned to get her drunk and take her back to his apartment:
Not only did she horribly misinterpret the email, but then she told three other people we work with that Bryan was planning to get her drunk and take her home with him before she reread it and figured out what he actually meant. Oddly enough, she answered back "Sure, that sounds great" before she figured out what he actually said. I'll leave that for the two of them to sort out.
In the interests of equal rights, Kristin and I also deliberately ogled the busboy:
It was to alleviate our guilt for staring at all the (spice)racks, and had nothing to do with his t-shirt being a size too small and way too tight across his pecs.
As I said earlier, though, the waitresses eventually come out and sing for your birthday:
They don't let you keep the sombrero, and they also sing the same birthday song that the waitresses at Chili's do. Not only that, but they didn't ask if anyone else wanted to order dessert, but just brought one brownie sundae with four spoons.
I found that to be the most tragic and offensive of all.