David Drebin
Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"Don't tell me your name, I can guess it," says Bill. His name is stitched on his navy blue windbreaker. He pushes his Oakleys up to his forehead, cocks his head and squints.

"Weren't you in pigtails yesterday?" he asks. "Pigtails darling, come over here. There are some people I want you to meet." The quest for my true identity abandoned, I trot loyally behind. Get out of the cart--you get better tips when you stand up. Gesturing to the two carts pulling up to the 11th tee, Oakley Bill punctures the air with his index finger, ticking off monosyllabic names: John, Dave, Kev, Hank, Steve. "And this is my son," he says, pointing to the gangly teenager fumbling with his golf bag, "and this is my dad," a gray-haired gent with a mustache. "Why don't you give me four Crown-and-Cokes," says Oakley Bill. "We're three generations of Crown drinkers. You know how they say, 'When you're bad, you're good'?" I nod. I have no idea what he's talking about.

"Well, Pigtails, this group is b-a-a-a-a-d!"
Always laugh at their jokes, even if they're not funny.

"I'm staying where the Sheraton used to be," Oakley Bill continues. "Why don't you stop by around 8 o'clock tonight, Pigtails--I'm in Room 603." I look from Oakley Bill to his son to his father and back, half-expecting him to ask if I also do retirement parties and filial deflowerings.

"Don't worry, Pigtails," says Oakley Bill. "I'm the only one in Room 603." Smile, ask if they want any beers for the cooler, and find out if they'll be replaying.

"That's $11," I chirp. He hands me $15 and winks.
"Room 603."
Smile again. Wave. On to the 10th tee.

I decided to spend three days training as a cart girl because there are only so many iconic roles a woman can try on for size, and supermodel, nurse and nun were out. Myrtle Beach isn't just golf's most popular town; it's also the main hub of Hooters Air, so it seemed only right that I fly the airline that purports to "put the fun back in flying."

On board, passengers are tended to by chesty young women in skimpy orange shorts and skin-tight tank tops with the words delightfully tacky yet unrefined printed on the back. Officially, the Hooters girls aren't flight attendants. "We're here to mingle, flirt and play trivia games," says Jackie, a 21-year-old blonde who's been a Hooters girl for three years.

Maybe it's because half the passengers are women or maybe they're focused on their golf games, but the men are well behaved, if boisterous and drinking on the early side. Aside from two heavyset men who want their pictures taken with Jackie and her co-workers, no one pays the girls too much mind.

In my three days on the job, it became apparent that the role of beverage cart girl has as much to do with beverages as being a Hooters girl has to do with owls. There are no prerequisites. No golf knowledge needed. Waitressing or bartending experience preferred but not required. Even men can apply, though no one has ever heard of such a thing.

I asked three women with a total of 20 years experience flirting with men in madras shorts for the basics of beverage carting.

Rule No. 1: "Pretty sells more," said Sandi Bobo, beverage cart manager at Wild Wing Plantation, a petite woman with dirty-blonde hair and tan skin. "That's one thing I look for when I'm hiring."

When talking to cart girls, always:
1. Make eye contact. The eyes are the first thing you should look at, not the last. You know who you are.
2. Offer pleasantries. It's always nice to hear, "Hi there, how are you doing today?" It makes us feel more like a human and less like a cooler with breasts.
3. Buy something. Even a bottle of water or peanut butter crackers makes a difference to our inventory and by extension our salesmanship and by extension our good standing with our manager.
4. Remember our names. Yep, that's us, the same girls you saw nine holes ago. If you're going to ask us to visit your hotel room, it's the least you can do.
5. Tip. Think of us as waitresses on wheels--except we put up with a lot more petting, squeezing and bad jokes. A few dollars is always welcome.
And please, please don't:
1. Pretend you don't see us. If you're not hungry or thirsty, a simple, "We're good, thanks," is a polite form of rejection.
2. Give us sugary pet names. "Baby," "Dollface," "Sweetheart"--you're not Humphrey Bogart, and we're not your moll.
3. Ask for our phone number, e-mail address or what time we get off. This is especially true if you're more than 10 years north of us. We're here to mix drinks, get some sun and make some cash--not meet our soul mate. Or bed mate.
4. Make us wait Time is money. We shouldn't have to sit there while your group putts out or tees off before you tell us you don't want anything.
5. Try to buy us drinks from our own cart. We're good, thanks.
Rule No. 2

Rule No. 3

Be sweet as pie. Be sweet as pie.

Golfer profiles: A field guide.
15-year-old male
Wears Baggy golf shirt with Dad's company logo
Orders Snickers
Also in cart Nintendo Gameboy, Snickers wrappers
25-year-old male
Wears Sweat-stained baseball hat, torn .golf glove
Orders Miller Lite, .cheddar cheese crackers
Also in cart Second-hand golf clubs, fraternity brother
35-year-old male
Wears Dockers, "Four Seasons, Jupiter" golf shirt
Orders Heineken and a Gatorade
Also in cart "Four Seasons, Maui" golf bag
45-year-old male
Wears Pink golf shirt, polished shoes, wedding band
Orders Two Crown-and-Cokes and anything with rum
Also in cart Divorce papers, little black book
60-year-old male
Wears Baseball hat from son's college
Orders Bloody Mary, peanuts
Also in cart Camera, newspaper
80-year-old male
Wears Polyester pants worn at the rib cage, Veterans association bucket hat
Orders "Just a pretty smile, Sweetheart"
Also in cart Heart medicine
42-year-old female
Wears Starched and pleated khakis, navy visor
Orders Nothing, Thank you
Also in cart Cell phone, handbag, rulebook

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