Some days I watch the news and can only assume they’re just making it all up when I hear folks claim that some Black kid born in Kenya 50 years ago conspired to place birth announcements in multiple Honolulu newspapers that same day in order to fast track his ascendancy to President of the United States. Or that if I really understood economics I’d know that I’m a primary beneficiary of tax-cuts for the rich. Or that gas from greenhouses is killing all the polar bears. Yeah right, I think. Who’s gullible enough to believe any of this?
But then I’d never been to Hooters before.
So it came to pass (I use that phrase because it’s Easter and Passover week) that after the art reception Linda, Andy and I ended up at Hooters. Don’t ask. I’ll just note that it had more to do with hockey than with owls, and leave it at that.
So we’re at Hooters and a pretty young waitress in ill-fitting garb came up to ask us what we wanted to drink. Andy and Linda both ordered beers. I, of course, am a bourbon drinker. So I ordered a bourbon and water.
Now before I go any further, you should probably take a look at the Hooters drinks menu.
You’ll notice they pour a “T-Bird Tea” and a “Flavorita” and a “Hula Hoop Pina Colada” and a “Christmas Light Lemonade” and more. I suspect that if I’d ordered any of those drinks I would have gotten a cheery “Sure!!!” and a smile from our waitress. Being a stranger in a strange land, I ignored the menu and asked for a bourbon and water.
The waitress’s face went blank, her posture sagged and there was panic in her eyes. She grabbed for her order book, made a note and left.
Eventually she returned, I assume after talking to the bartender.
“What kind of bourbon would you like?”
I thought a bit and decided this was not a time to get fussy. I said, “Maker’s Mark,” which is pretty standard in most bars.
“I don’t think we have that,” she said.
“What do you have?”
“Jim Beam? … Is that bourbon?”
Wanting to diffuse her discomfort, I said, “Yes. Jim Beam will be fine.”
I need to stress that I recognize there’s a culture clash at work here. On one hand there’s the fact that we’re in the South, where bourbon is a favored and familiar beverage. You should be able to walk into any bar in the South and be greeted with an approving nod when you order a bourbon and water. In fact, before today I assumed that you could walk into any bar in America and order a bourbon and water and that would be the end of the conversation.
Yet Hooters is one of many culture-free chains around the country that strive to manufacture an atmosphere that is unique to Hooters and completely unrelated to anything beyond their walls, real or imagined. Just like some chains transport you to some pseudo-Australian outback, or pseudo-Abilene, or pseudo-rebel-controlled Chiapas, Hooters takes you to a world where men watch sports on giant screen televisions while women in brown panty hose serve them food. As soon as I came through the door I was no longer in the South. I was in Hooterstan. If the Hooters in Burlington, NC, can’t handle a bourbon and water, then there’s probably not a Hooters in the world that can handle a bourbon and water.
So I was totally off the reservation.
After another extended wait, the waitress returned and handed me a shot glass with what I presume was Jim Beam bourbon.
She asked, “Do you want ice in your water?”
I did a double take, paused and said, “Yes.”
She returned with a giant orange tumbler of ice water.
I politely asked, “Can I have a drink-sized glass that I can mix these in?”
She returned and gave me a Hooters-logo Styrofoam cup.
So what you see here is the Hooters’ version of a bourbon and water. I can’t wait for the estimable F. Paul Pacult’s review.