Hooters fits right in at Harbor-- making a buck


Good Roger and Bad Roger were deciding where to go for lunch.

"Let's go to a soup kitchen, serve lunch to the unfortunates and then get some table scraps for ourselves," Good Roger said.

Bad Roger rolled his eyes. "Why do you always get to pick the place?" he asked. "How come I can't pick? How come I can't select some decent, normal place in which to eat?"

"OK, OK," Good Roger said. "You pick."

So they went to Hooters.

Hooters of Harborplace hasn't been there very long, but it already is very controversial. Seemingly yet another yuppie restaurant with a lot of natural wood and exposed ductwork, what distinguishes Hooters from the rest is its semi-scantily clad waitresses.

They wear short, bright orange athletic shorts and T-shirts with the phrase "More Than A Mouthful" printed on them.

Good Roger covered his eyes when they got in the door. "I am appalled," he said. "Do you realize that the Baltimore chapter of the National Organization for Women, City Council President Mary Pat Clarke and the Mayor's Office have all attacked Hooters?"

"You take those three together," said Bad Roger, "and their collective IQ might reach room temperature."

Hooters was packed at lunchtime. The crowd was about 99 percent guys, and they seemed to spend most of their time gawking at the waitresses.

Bad Roger and Good Roger were served by a waitress named Jeni. She had blond hair and glossy lipstick and was very attractive.

"Say something to her," Bad Roger whispered to Good Roger. "Use your best line."

"Have you ever thought of going to school and getting a degree in computer science?" Good Roger said to her.

"That's your best line?" Bad Roger said. "You are a bigger geek than I thought."

"Well, then, you say something, Mr. Perfect," Good Roger said back.

Bad Roger pushed his sunglasses to the top of his head -- Bad Roger always wears sunglasses in winter; that's how bad he is -- and leered at Jeni.

"Say, babycakes," he said, "once you've had a columnist, you'll never go back to ordinary men."

But as Bad Roger found out, the waitresses at Hooters have very little time to flirt with the customers. It is a busy place, and all Jeni wanted to know is what Bad Roger and Good Roger wanted for lunch.

They both ordered cheeseburgers and large Cokes. They do agree on some things.

"But I am almost too disgusted to eat," Good Roger said. "The name of this place alone is enough to make me throw up."

"The name is a perfectly good one," Bad Roger said. "I have researched the word 'hooter.' In England, it is a car horn. Instead of honking their horns, they toot their hooters."

"This isn't England," Good Roger said.

"OK," said Bad Roger, "but even in America it has a whole bunch of meanings. It could refer to someone's nose, for instance. It is also the name of a rock band."

"You're not fooling anybody," Good Roger said. "And neither is this restaurant chain. Hooters is a demeaning and derogatory term for . . . for you know what."

"For what?" Bad Roger asked, batting his eyelashes innocently.

"I don't want to say it," Good Roger said. "Some people might be reading this at the breakfast table."

"Your repressed attitude is exactly why Americans are unable to discuss sex and body parts in a frank and healthy manner," Bad Roger said.

"So what do you call them?" Good Roger asked.

"I use the official, anatomical term," Bad Roger said. "Casabas."

"You make me sick," Good Roger said. "Don't you realize that by concentrating on certain parts of a woman's body, this restaurant demeans and oppresses women?"

"Oh, lighten up," Bad Roger said. "When did it become illegal in America to have a sense of humor? And besides, there are ads running on TV right now in which women admire how men fill out their blue jeans. So this 'oppression' works both ways."

"Men oppress women much more than women oppress men!" Good Roger said.

"Oh, yeah?" said Bad Roger. "So how come every time I interview Mary Pat Clarke I get the impression she is undressing me with her eyes?"

"You are a profoundly twisted human being," Good Roger said. "Don't you realize that the mayor's official spokesman recently said: 'He [Kurt Schmoke] doesn't plan to go to Hooters. . . . It doesn't appear to be part of what we have come to love about Harborplace, its family environment.' "

Bad Roger laughed his hard, cruel laugh. "That's a good one," he said. "Harborplace is devoted to one thing and one thing only: commerce. It is devoted to selling as much stuff as possible for as high a price as possible. And since a cheeseburger and large Coke at Hooters costs $7.30, I'd say it fits the Harborplace image perfectly."

"Make all the snide comments you want," said Good Roger, "but I think it means a lot to have the mayor of the city boycotting this place."

"You're right," said Bad Roger. "But ask yourself something: Has the mayor ever announced he is boycotting the Club Chez Joey, the Doll House or the Swedish Erotica Bookstore, all a few minutes walk from City Hall?"

"Don't be ridiculous," Good Roger said.

"I say if he picks on Hooters but doesn't pick on those places, he's got to have a reason," Bad Roger said. "And I think the reason is that after a hard day of closing down firehouses and laying off city workers, Kurt Schmoke knocks off work around 2 p.m., heads for The Block and sits around drinking mai tais with some bimbo on his lap."

"You are unfit for human company," Good Roger said. "And you have made me so upset, I can't even eat my cheeseburger."

"Hey, I'm truly sorry," Bad Roger said. "Maybe I went too far. So let me make it up to you. Let me pick a place for our next lunch that has a name that nobody could complain about."

"You don't mean. . . ." said Good Roger.

"That's right," said Bad Roger. "Tomorrow we're going to Fuddruckers."

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