There's nothing that tests one's manliness quite like a trip to everyone's favorite boobtastic restaurant, Hooters. That fabulous Halifaxian Haligonian, Ben, recently posted about his first experience there, so I figured, why not add another gay story to the Hooters book? Why not, indeed. Many moons ago, I was not the super openly gay man I am now. At the tender age of 20, a couple of friends of mine convinced me and my older brother to go with them to Hooters. Perhaps the sad part is that the friends were brother and sister. Or wait--the really sad part is that I was SO MUCH EASIER to convince to join in the fun than was my Puritanical older brother.

We adjourned to the restaurant, whereupon the first thing I noticed was definitely not the first thing straight guys notice. While they see tight shirts and short shorts, I saw a shade of orange that had NO BUSINESS coming within even an inch of about 90% of the girls' skin tones plastered on nearly every female tush in the house.

The Albuquerque Hooters is home to weekly (or maybe monthly--I never really kept very good track) car shows. And football games. And beer. And it attracts the sort of crowd you'd expect. I think I was one of about five people in the whole place not wearing a baseball cap and plaid flannel. Which really says more about me, I think. Even in my more closeted times, I still had a pretty awesome fashion sense. Naysayers may suggest that comparing myself to the average Hooters customer isn't fair. To which I'd reply, SHUT UP, YES IT DOES. ALL'S FAIR IN FASHION AND WAR.

The highlight of my Hooters experience was not the bland grilled cheese with the side order of fried cheese sticks. It was not watching a bunch of trashed rednecks hollering at each other. It wasn't even watching how much more uncomfortable Puritan Boy was than me. No, the highlight of the evening was much, much worse.

I'm looking around the restaurant, and I count. Not one. Not two. THREE. I count three girls working at Hooters with whom I had gone to high school. I didn't quite recognize them, at first. But only because I remembered two of them as always wearing the same high school prom shirts all the time. You know the one: the one the administration forced them to wear over their actual clothes since they never seemed to follow the dress code.

Long story short, I saw way more than I ever hoped to see; seeing girls I knew from English class all those years before totally killed the mood of the evening. And I've never been back. Pretty much for fear that I'll know half the staff. Again.