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Hooters girls danced in circles beneath flickering TV screens. Their dance was a sexually charged Hokey Pokey for guys who were celebrating a birthday. "You put your name tag in! You put your name tag out!" they cheered, and then rubbed their "name tags" against the chests of the clapping, laughing group of men.

"And you turn yourself about."

The waitresses who weren't engaged in spanking, dancing, and singing to the birthday boys circled the restaurant. A clock hung in my line of vision and helped me note the frequency with which a girl arrived at our table. No sooner would I launch into conversation with my friend Doug than another girl would interrupt.

"Hi, how are you guys doing?" a short brunette asked.

"Fine," Doug and I answered, turning our attention from our plates to the scarcely dressed coed.

When she left we wondered aloud at a napkin situated at the end of our table. "Why did she sign that napkin and leave it there?" I asked.

The birthday party was breaking up, Hooters girls spun away from their patrons, and grown men walked away with orange balloons that floated a foot above their heads at string's end.

"Bye, you guys! Have a great weekend!" a blonde with orangey-tan skin shrieked to departing guests and then made her way to Doug and me.

"Hi, how are you guys?" she asked in a bright, singsongy voice. "Fine," Doug and I answered. We watched as she spread the mysterious napkin with her left hand and signed it with her right.

Girls who had already signed our napkin would approach our table with felt pen brandished and ask, "How are you guys?" If they saw their own signature they walked on, headed for the next napkin at the next table. They did not wait to hear Doug and me palaver about how we were.

When the next girl popped the cap on her Crayola marker as she approached our table, I asked, "Why do you sign the napkin that's set out at the end of all the tables?"

"Oh, you know," she said.

"I think I do, actually," I answered. "Is it because you have to turn it in to a manager? Is it to prove you smiled and asked us how we are doing?"

Thursday, May 5

Everybody Loves Raymond

KTLA, 7:30 p.m.

I saw a standup special with Ray Romano. His big joke was about the size of the orange juice glass he got at a restaurant. Because that's fresh comedy. Give that guy his own series.

I Love the '70s

VH1, 10:00 p.m.

My dad stopped liking new music in 1975. He just got off the contemporary music rollercoaster. After that it was all Dolly Parton all the time. Now, when I hear a new song that I like I shout out, "Thank you, GOD! I haven't turned into my father!"

Friday, May 6

Rush Hour 2 (2001)

FOX, 8:00 p.m.

There's a Rush Hour 2? Whatever. On to the important things. Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday, dear Ollie. Happy birthday to me.

Kickboxing

ESPN2, 11:30 p.m.

I settled in to watch kickboxing last week, and something caught my attention from the corner of my eye. I turned my head to see a silverfish crawling across my shoulder. "Oh! Help me!" I screamed and swatted at my T-shirt. "There's a pterodactyl in here! Please! Somebody!" I kept wailing and flinging around my front room. Yeah, I'm tough. I watch kickboxing.

Saturday, May 7

The Surreal Life

VH1, 3:30 p.m.

I had an elderly dog that would kick its hind legs out in front of itself and drag its ass across the front lawn. This show makes me want to rub my eyeballs like that over my living room carpet.

Road House (1989)

TNT, 12:00 p.m.

I'd love to manage the Ken Theater for one night. I would splice clips of Road House in with the latest award-winning Indie film. The end result would be a movie about an Asian piano teacher trying to make his way past monster trucks and henchmen to confront his childhood-bully at the Double Deuce.

Sunday, May 8

Charmed

KSWB, 8:00 p.m.

I watched this show last week. I was half-drunk on whiskey and the TV was muted so I could sing along with the Buena Vista Social Club

I had in the CD player. From what I remember this show is about Alyssa Milano's cleavage.

Monday, May 9

The Blues Brothers (1980)

AMC, 10:05 p.m.

Kip and I were discussing the state of comedy. "Candy took over for Belushi, and Farley took over for Candy," Kip related. "Since Farley died, no one has stepped up to be the fat funny guy." The time is NOW to seize my birthright!

Tuesday, May 10

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart

COMEDY, 1:30 a.m.

The most interesting thing about late-night television is the commercials. If I understand the messages correctly, I can go to a vocational school for my GED, learn to play poker, and there are hot women standing by to talk to me. Late-night ads provide only possibility and promise; there is no room for regret or despair.

Wednesday, May 11

Hard Target (1993)

AMC, 8:00 p.m.

Meegan and I are starting a Wilford Brimley fan club. We're going to petition local VFW halls and bingo parlors for members. Our only problem is that Wilford doesn't get many requests for life-sized posters. It's not like he's a coverboy for Teen Beat and keeps that kind of promotional item in stock. We'll probably have to special order.

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