A blandly artsy loft-style apartment, perhaps in New York. Bicycle in the corner, posters on the wall. Perhaps a half-dozen young people sitting on couches, talking and laughing and eating what we shall soon discover are Hot Pocket Snackers. Some of the young people look conservative. Some look like hipsters. One looks like a black guy. This is young America.
Male announcer: "New Hot Pocket Snackers! Real restaurant-styled flavors like loaded potato skins!"
Suddenly there appears in the middle of the living room a waitress. She
is not a generic waitress. From her dress -- slacks, apron, white shirt,
and a vest festooned with dozens of buttons and other detritus of the
kind referred to in Office Space as "flair" -- we may divine that
she works for TGI Friday's or its clones, Ruby Tuesday and Applebee's.
She is approximately 30 years old. She is gaunt. She wears short,
tragically styled red hair, pale skin, and a terrible, guileless grin.
Waitress, in a high and unhip voice: "Hey, funky party people! Are we having fun?"
The young people are both frightened and full of contempt.
Male announcer: "Any more 'restaurant' and they'd come with that annoying waitress!"
The camera cuts to the waitress, who dances a side-to-side shuffle, her flair rattling like a tambourine.
The camera cuts to an image of Hot Pocket Snackers, artfully arranged on a countertop.
Male announcer: "New Snackers! From - "
And here the generic "Hot Pockets" jingle takes over. A female voice sings "Hot Pockets!" The screen goes dark.
Across America, stomachs rumble, for we understand this ad, and we like
it. Each time the announcer says restaurant, we instinctively call to
mind: fake Tiffany lamps, brass banisters, dark wood, endless drink and
food specials; a menu so long it makes us dizzy; plenty and plenty and
plenty. This is TGIF. It is what a restaurant is. When we go out, it
is where we go out to.
And we like it; we like TGIF. It is true that we don't like its
waitresses so much, now that Hot Pockets mentions it. There's something
about them that unsettles. What is it with the flair, anyway? Why
would anyone dress like that? And why are they so goddamned perky?
They've got too many tables with too many people at them and half the
time the food they bring us is late and sometimes it's cold and it
doesn't have enough sauce or shrimp or chicken (but we like TGIF, we do,
because next time it will probably be better), and so we're probably not
going to tip them very well, which makes the whole perky schtick just a
little humiliating. Plus, now that we think about it, we know damned
well that our little redheaded waitress is really an actress or a linguist
or a ceramics painter, and she's only here, barely succeeding at
serving us potato skins, because she failed someplace else at something
But the ad's only 16 seconds, and we don't have to think about that too much -- and lookither dance! With all that flair! She's clanking like a one-waitress band! We don't do that. We never clank. We're aware of absurdity -- hers acutely, our own only dimly -- and she
is clearly not, which means she's absolutely nothing like us. She's
somehow chosen this wretched existence, the foolish bitch, through some
kind of violent compromise that's left her brain-addled and tacky. How
does that happen? What miserable weakness! Our own economic situation is
tough, of course, but that...
Well. We must guard against it, however it happened. Conserve our
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
money. Go out less. Tonight's ladies' night at TGIF, but to hell with
that -- let's stay in, have some Hot Pockets. Maybe we'll splurge on
PBR. Tomorrow we should look for a second job. Maybe something that