Eh Oh

O PURPLE TELETUBBIES HERE!" read the marquee outside Joe's Crab Shack, a party-hearty restaurant on I-45 North. It was Thursday, February 11, the day after the Reverend Jerry Falwell outed the children's television character.

In case you don't have a small child: Tinky Winky is the biggest of the four Teletubbies. According to the Teletubbies web page, he loves hugs and singing his special song, "Pinkle Winkle Tinky Winky, Pinkle Winkle Tinky Winky." Falwell, former leader of the Moral Majority, says that Tinky Winky is clearly a dangerous homosexual role model. Falwell knows this because Tinky Winky a) has a triangle on his head, b) is purple and c) carries a red purse. (According to Tubby spokespersons, it's not a purse. It's a magic bag.)

Claire Thompson laughed when she drove into Joe's parking lot. Her girlfriend didn't.

After lunch, Claire asked the manager on duty what the sign meant.
This is what she says he told her: "It's a nice way of saying that kind is not welcome at Joe's Crab Shack."

Claire didn't have a purple triangle on her head. He didn't know she was "one of them."

"I'm not a militant gay person," says Claire. "I'm not butch -- I'm not crazy like that. But I think any gay person would be upset."

Darryl Clay, a gay waiter at the Saltgrass Steak House next door, wasn't real happy when he saw the sign, either. He often goes to Joe's during his breaks, so on Thursday he spoke with the manager.

"They claim it was just messing with Jerry Falwell," Darryl says. "If I wanted to take things personal, it would have offended me."

But he likes Joe's, and they've never told him to hit the road.
And they never would, says Mike Hogan, Joe's manager. He says the sign was not meant to slam homosexuals or keep gay people out. It was just a joke, like the sign over the kitchen that says, "GIVE YOUR VALENTINE CRABS."

Hogan says he didn't even know the sign was up. A server put it up. And Hogan didn't see it on his way into work because he drove in the back entrance.

How long was it up?
"Probably more than five minutes," Hogan says.
Yeah. "It was an error," Hogan says. "It was a slip. It has been rectified."
But it wasn't rectified immediately because he didn't know what it meant.
"I don't know what a Teletubby is," he says. "What's a Teletubby?"
I draw him a picture.

Laa-Laa's yellow, I explain. Dipsy's green, Po's red, and Tinky Winky's purple. "Sounds cute," he says. But not familiar. He doesn't watch TV or read the papers because he doesn't trust reporters. He thinks they lie.

He says no customers complained to him yesterday; Joe's received one phone call about it, but the sign had already been taken down.

Darryl, the gay waiter at Saltgrass, says that another manager told him Joe's took the sign down around 3 p.m. after the gay coalition called and said Channel 10 was on the way. Hogan says that's not true, that the sign was taken down when a server told him that it was because "Jerry Falwell was doggin' on gay people."

Hogan didn't know what a Teletubby was, but he figured the sign had the potential to piss people off. ("People get offended by pretty much anything," he says.) So down it came.

Hogan says he never talked to Claire Thompson and that he was the only floor manager working lunch. The other manager was in the kitchen.

Can I talk to him?
"It's not necessary."
What's his name?
"It's not necessary."
Can I talk to the server who put up the sign?
"It's not necessary."
Why not?

"It's not necessary," Hogan says. "It's been rectified -- there's no reason to blow it out of proportion. The main thing is the sign was taken down."

Can I talk to some of the servers?
"It's not necessary."
I'd like to.
"It's not necessary," he says. "Can I get you a drink before you leave?"
No, I say. It's not necessary.


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