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“Don’t rush me!”

Dion’s voice cuts through the noise. She’s barking at a customer who wants to pay up and go.

It’s all part of the schtick. The crew gives customers a hard time from the get-go. People love to be insulted, pushed around, as long as it's done in the right way. And here they've got it down so it helps keep the good-time thing going.

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Dion walks away muttering something about how the guy hasn’t drunk enough yet. The canopy of bras she’s walking under looks like a flight of butterflies.

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Ya don't mess with Dion

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Me, I’ve just arrived, around ten at night, here at Dick’s Last Resort (345 Fourth Avenue between J and K Streets, Gaslamp, downtown, 619-231-9100). Sit at the bar just as a long table of pretty drunk people are getting up to leave.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry!” one of them practically sobs at a girl. He looks like Harry Potter’s sidekick, Ron Weasly. “I’m really, really sorry… Uh, can I have a hug?”

The gal looks at him a moment.

“Outside,” she says.

Dion comes up to me. “Hope you’re not going to give me trouble,” she says.

Just need a snack. Can’t afford their Southern main dishes like crawdads or ribs. They run $13, $20 a plate. Can’t even afford a beer at this end of the day, truth be known. So I ask for water and a plate of Gator Bites ($7.99). Here’s what the menu says about them: “Dat der be deep fry’d alligator baby! Served with chipotle ranch fer dippin’. Oh, go ahead & try ’em, ya sissy!”

The gator tastes great.

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No fishiness. More like chicken. It’s cooked in batter, and when you dunk it in the chipotle dip, it’s dee-licious.

“So who is Dick?” I ask Dion.

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Dick, rear view...

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Dick, in all his glory

“He’s a guy in Texas who started this fine dining place, in Dallas,” says Dion. “Wasn’t doing that great. Then they had some kind of an accident. A wall fell. It destroyed the business. So they took what they could, kinda set it back up haphazardly, got a bunch of crummy, loud-mouthed waiters, and created a new atmosphere. They didn't care that they weren't cool, smooth, and it worked. Still going after 25 years; [there are now] 11 Dick's Last Resorts. San Diego was the third.”

Two tables over, a bunch of girls — okay, young ladies, seven of them, are giggling and shouting up a storm.

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One of the waiters has put a sorta chef’s toque, or like what whirling dervishes wear, on Anna. It’s her party. She’s 19 today.

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The waiter has scrawled a message on it. “Lookin’ For Hot B’Day Action,” it says.

But you can say this stuff in here. Dick says so.

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Comments

Ed Bedford Dec. 9, 2011 @ 10:06 a.m.

Oh you betcha. Only this time with a few rowdy friends and a few more pesetas in the pocket. Yeah, it can be gross, and people can get drunk, and this is a small franchise, not "real," but sometimes you've gotta let off steam. Besides, if Dion can let me get away with ordering water at this dedicated drinkery, it can't be all bad. Plus, she should have her own TV show where she yells at people till they shape up.

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