When stereotypes collide

“Got any light beer?” the man in a trucker’s snap back hat asked.

“Light in color or light in calories?”

“You know, light,” he said, offering no new information.

Often people think they are being clear when in fact they are not. Sometimes there are 100 different answers depending on the question. So, I offered a choice.

“You mean like Miller Lite?”

“Yeah, or Coors.”

“We have Amstel Light.”

“Amstail what?” he asked mockingly.

This sort of set the tone for most of the rest of the evening.

He and his friends didn’t seem to like being where they were, and they weren’t quiet about it. They also didn’t seem to care for the people surrounding them either.

The interesting thing about a restaurant is that you can’t really control who comes in. You will get whom you get and all the demographic studies in the world won’t change that. You can, however, sometimes control who goes out.

The good ole boys soon took to making loud generally derogatory comments about people’s lifestyle choices, sometimes within earshot of those very people.

Any moment and the manager was probably going to ask them to leave. Those “We reserve the right to refuse service to anybody” signs aren’t there just for show.

Just before that moment, however, another group arrived with enormous platinum blond hair, enormous gold jewelry and enormous high heels along with various other comically large enormities.

They took seats right next to the good ole boys.

The leader of this new group sashayed over to the bar, adjusting platinum locks and fixing the short hem of a skirt along the way.

“We’d like to start a tab,” she said, extending a credit card.

I looked at the card as habit dictates.

“Sure, uhh, Tom,” I said, the incongruity sinking in.

The good ole boys took an immediate interest, in sort of a mocking and condescending way. In a word, they snickered.

Tom and his “girlfriends” didn’t seem to mind. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that they outweighed, outnumbered and literally towered over the good ole boys, even without the 6-inch, size 11 heels.

Eventually Mr. Light Beer made his way back to the bar.

“We want to send those ‘ladies’ a drink,” he said in way that certainly implied the quotation marks.

His buddies back at his table snickered like 10-year-olds.

“Look,” I said, “nobody wants any trouble.”

“Are you saying you won’t let us buy the ladies a drink?” he asked, his buddies busting up at the “ladies” part.

“It’s OK,” said Tom, overhearing. “We’ll take the drinks.”

Some $70 worth of fruity sugar-rimmed concoctions later and I realized Tom and his friends could handle themselves.

Another $70 round followed. Followed, as always, by a coming on over. A side note to all the ladies, er, people — if you don’t want a guy to come over, don’t accept a drink from him. It’s as simple as that. If there’s no such thing as a free lunch, there’s certainly no such thing as a free drink. All it’s going to cost is your time.

What had started out as a joke now seemed to have a different character altogether. It wasn’t long before all the good ole boys came over. The booth was now platinum blonde, trucker hat, platinum blonde, trucker hat. Boy, girl, boy, girl, if you will.

When last call finally came I went up to the cozy group.

“Guys,” I said without immediately realizing the implication, “we’ve got to close up.”

The group shuffled out the door and after their taxis left I noticed two four-wheel drive pickup trucks and two Miatas parked side by side.

The next day we got a call from one of the good ole boys. It appeared he had left his credit card.

“I’ll pick it up tomorrow,” he said. “I just live across town.”

Leaving me with these thoughts:

• “No matter where you go, there you are,” Buckaroo Banzai, 1984.

• “Stereotypes lose their power when the world is found to be more complex than the stereotype would suggest,” former New York Mayor Ed Koch once said.

• “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with,” sang Stephen Stills, whose bandmate David Crosby also once lived across town.

• Whoever said “Boys will be boys” might want to rephrase.