There was a story on the local news recently that was a perfect example of how local governments can act quickly on important issues, as opposed to the slow grind toward democracy in their state and federal counterparts. The coverage centered on Redneck Heaven, a restaurant in Lewisville, Texas. The controversy began with complaints to the police department that the waitresses there were topless. Apparently the line that distinguished a sexually oriented business from a food service establishment was one drawn in brush strokes across a nipple. This breast-staking event was covered by every local channel. The news stories went on to describe how the police had visited Redneck Heaven and reported back to the city council that the women were in fact, covered by body paint; and they wanted a ruling on whether the paint counted as clothing. The news reports did not mention how many trips the cops had to make to the place in order to observe these servers.
I was amused by the interviews of customers at a nearby dining establishment. One woman described how her family had wandered in there “by accident” and discovered the scantily clad servers. I for one, when faced by a choice between Olive Garden, Chili’s, or a place called Redneck Heaven, would never chose the latter. Not because I am a prude or offended by nearly naked women, but because I would expect the menu to consist of fried bologna and Velveeta cheese sandwiches, served with a side of cheesy puffs, with maybe a free side of bait and ammo to go.
The news stories went on for two or three days, following the event to its logical conclusion when the council met for a special session where they voted on an ordinance that stated that body paint and tattoos were not clothing. Whew! I was glad to hear this, just when I was bracing myself for casual day at work. Redneck Heaven’s version of casual day includes something called “Anything but Clothes”, or ABC days. On these occasions the women wear their standard skimpy bikini bottoms, garter belts to hold dollar bills, and an assortment of strategically placed items to cover (or not), their top parts. There are pictures on the restaurant’s website of typical costumes worn on these days, and I was amazed at the creativity on display. One woman covered her breasts in what looked like whipped cream, with a couple of cherries placed on top. I spent a good five or ten minutes trying to figure out how she got those cherries to stay there, as I can barely get a barrette to stay in place on my hair without plastering it in with hair spray. Other non-edible coverings included artificial flowers, condom wrappers, and the controversial body paint.
Like most of the male patrons interviewed for the story, I don’t see anything wrong with women walking around nude, or nearly nude, or mostly naked. I’ve always limited myself to accidental nudity, like the time I went down the water slide at Hawaiian Falls, or the morning I forgot to close the living room blinds. But I was concerned because they were working in a restaurant and not someplace where the décor consisted of dim lighting and metal poles. Food service can be a dangerous business, and I hoped for the sake of the waitresses and customers, that they were serving mostly cold beer and sandwiches wrapped safely in plastic.
I know firsthand of the dangers. I was once a waitress myself, and one time I set a basket of chips on fire at the Mexican restaurant where I worked. I extinguished the blaze by throwing the basket into the fountain in the center of the dining room, along with three cocktail napkins, the crepe paper flowers hanging over the booth, and a cardboard take out menu my customers had thoughtlessly left lying on the center on the table. I think I was only partly at fault for this accident, and the person who thought it was a good idea to add flaming cheese to the menu should have shared in the blame.
Luckily I was wearing a shirt and pants when this event happened. Had I been clothed in just a necklace of paper condom wrappers, that thing would have gone up like a string of Chinese fire crackers. While I sympathize with the reluctance on the part of many of the customers of Redneck Heaven to see the end of body painted boobies, surely they understand that city ordinances are put in place to keep a strict separation between places that are serving food and places that are serving up something that only occasionally is covered in whipped cream. I applaud the Lewisville city council for their quick action to protect the public and tighten up the definition of clothing, especially for those of us who might be confused on casual Fridays.