Thursday, February 21, 2008

Because "Ruth's Retardedly Named Steak House" Was Already Taken?

I’ve always had a violent reaction to the meathouse franchise name Ruth’s Chris Steak House. What the hell does that even mean? How does one have a “Chris” steak house? Since when is Chris an adjective? What makes you so special, Chris??? My girl Skyler and I recently delved into our ex archives and determined that between the two of us, we’d dated nine Chrises over the years and all of them sucked. This led us to make the sweeping generalization that all Chrises are terrible. See, the equation goes like this:

Christ - Chris = T.
Therefore: T minus Christ = negative Chris
So if T equals time, between now and the time of Christ, the world has consisted of negative Chrises. One might even say that they are the Anti-Christ. Especially if you’re me, you would say that.

Listen, I don't make the rules. If you don't believe me, check out this website for the Ruth's Chris Steak House in Toronto with the disturbing sound of sizzling meat playing on a loop in the background. If that's not the very sound of Hell, you need to revisit the Book of Revelation, friend.

My brother Jeff had this to say about it: “I think everyone understands that name to be fundamentally wrong and upsetting. It's the unspoken thread that holds modern American culture together.”

And so I present Alternate Names For Ruth's Chris Steak House courtesy of McSweeney's:

Lil's Sam Steak House
Nellie's Ray Steak House
Mabel's Steve Steak House
Esther's Carl Steak House
Sara's Bill Steak House
Roxy's Bert Steak House
Kate's Keith Steak House
Hallie's Tom: A Place for Steak


Anonymous said...

While on the surface it is a silly name, if you take the time to understand the origin of the name it makes more sense. Chris Steak House opened in February 1927 in New Orleans and was purchased by Ruth Fertel in 1965. Due to name restrictions after a fire in 1977 when Ruth relocated the original, See added her name to become Ruth's Chris Steak House. As the Chris Steak House name had a 50 year history in New Orleans at that time, you just do not walk away from that.

Steve H. said...

While a fine explanation was given above, I'd prefer the name change to have my name as the steak house.

Thanks for suggesting it.

Anonymous said...

I've always fantasized about a man named Seth purchasing the chain in question. Fearing a drastic name change would run off patrons, he opts instead to amend its moniker to Seth's Ruth's Chris Steak House. In my fantasy, I next ask out some ravenous carnivore chick with a crippling lisp and force her to repeatedly pronounce the location of our first date.

So far, it's only a dream.

MIke said...

You are officially the most hilarious writer I have ever read (Sorry, David Sedaris).

I will now only associate the sound of sizzling meat with the bowels of hell and laugh hysterically at it every time.

BCA said...

I heard no sizzling meat on a loop. I am certain you umm...imagined it in your illogical slash humorous fit of rage.

Your powers of observation and, strangely at the same time, insanity knows no bounds.

Red meat...GOOOD.

I was, however, entertained by your syllogism.

Anonymous said...

Oh thank you for putting into words everything I have always thought both about Ruth's Chris SteakHouse and Chrises the world over. Hell (cue sizzling meat) hath no fury like a woman scorned by a Chris.

Noelle Hancock said...

I could hear the sizzling on my home computer but now I can't hear it on my work computer! It was there -- I swear!

Ruth and Chris split the baby. If they'd really loved the restaurant, they would have let the other one have the name. Wow, Lent is really bringing out the Biblical imagery in me.

Anonymous said...

While you certainly have a basis for humorous comments about the Ruth's Chris name I suggest that your use of the word "retardedly" is gratuitously insulting to people with mental challenges, and to society at large. We need to laugh but we also need to be sensitive.

Ely H.

Noelle Hancock said...

You know what, Ely H? I disagree. For my college humor column I wrote an article about how bad I was at skiing – in it I called myself "ski-tarded." The article made it through several rounds of editors who all thought it was fine. But when the article got published, one of the professors got offended because he had a mentally disabled son and had me banned from writing for the paper for a week. After that I banished the word from my vocabulary for a few years but after awhile I decided that I was being ridiculous.

I think the word has taken on another meaning – the way “queer” has been reclaimed by the gay community, or the n-word has been reclaimed by the urban community. When those words became overused, the power was taken out of them. The same is true of “retarded” in my opinion. It’s all over the blogs and popular culture. Hell, even the Black Eyed Peas had a song called “Let’s Get Retarded,” which was about drinking. No one even uses the word “retarded” to describe mentally handicapped people anymore. The word itself has become ridiculous and therefore ironic.

On another note, I think the same is also true of the word “pimping” which no longer necessarily means soliciting customers for a prostitute. It’s now come to mean something along the lines of “exploiting others for your own gain.” Which is why I thought the media’s politically correct knee jerk reaction to that anchor suggesting that Hillary was pimping out Chelsea was silly. Of course Hillary is pimping her out, the same way Romney is pimping his sons out. Politicians pimp all of their family members out for their own gain (well, except Al Gore Jr. who Al and Tipper would’ve stashed in a cave somewhere if they could have). Politics is about selling something. Pimping comes with the territory.

bigmouth said...

I have, for years, been outraged at the Ruth's Chris situation. But I have similar confusion and anger over the whole recent Pizzaria Uno/Uno Chicago Grill puzzle.

And meanwhile, my name is Chris and I DID hear the meat sizzling...

Anonymous said...

nothing like meat to get the discussion going.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for you thoughtful reply. I agree with the new definition of "pimping" and like its use to express the "exploitation of others for one's own gain” (Hillary and many others don't seem to agree). In that instance I thought it was an appropriate use of the word. FYI the state of Virginia is currently considering legislation to remove the word retarded from all public legislation and regulations and replacing it with "intellectually challenged". The cost to do is estimated to be very high, with little to show for the effort. While I, thankfully, don’t have a personal stake in this, I am sensitive to those who may and think that in public forums we should all be sinsitive to the feelings of others.
Keep up the interesting blogging.
Ely H.

Steveh. said...

I think the whole "retarded" issue is, well, retarded, and Noelle is right on with her comments on reclaiming words. If the world were to quiver and hide every time someone was offended by something or didn't like something or wanted to protect someone else from being offended, no one would ever speak or write. Ever.

People like to fling out the "I know this guy who walks a dog in the park my sister's cousin's gym coach uses to troll for young chicks, and his nephew's bus driver's pen pal in Gudalahara has a mentally challenged niece who might be offended." Well, I have a mentally challenged (as he calls it when cornered) uncle who thinks all of this is horseshit. If mentally challenged offends any of the retards or mentally challenged, we can always supplant it with the more sterile "intellectually disabled," "developmentally delayed," or "backwards."

He also likes to call ME a retard. And sometimes I can be. Just like anyone can have a blonde moment.

People need to settle the hell down and release themselves from all the PC rhetoric that's been pushed down our throats in order to turn us into some lame ass victim society.

Noelle made a funny comment. I laughed. And since my uncle says I'M a retard then how can ANYONE be offended by her usage?

Your prescription for Pills Of Chill are in the mail.

Noelle Hancock said...

Steve, that's kind of awesome that your mentally disabled uncle calls you retarded. Have you ever wondered if you're actually the retarded one and he's normal? Like that Twilight Zone episode where the beautiful Kim Novak lives in a world of pig-faced people who all think she's hideous? haha. J/K. Thank you and Ely H for your comments. It's been fun, guys. :-)

Anonymous said...

Oh no its not over. Steve has now just insulted all the blonds.:)

Ely H.

Steve H. said...

Ely, I was wondering if anyone would pick up on that. :)

And Noelle, I am positive my life is some Twilight Zone experiment.

Anonymous said...

A non sequitur, you should investigate whether TomKat has aged Suri by two years and placed her in a Toyota ad on the back cover of the most recent issue of Time (with George Clooney on the cover).

Anonymous said...

"It's been fun?" Is the parenthetical implied there, "...but I have tired of this particular thread?" Thou cannot control the uncontrollable. Commoners nationwide are free to continue this discussion - and careen it anywhere - for the balance of time. Right here. On your comments page.

Anonymous said...

Earlier this evening I walked by the Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Seattle, and I had the same violent reaction that I'd come to know from seeing that stupid name before. Made me want to puke. So much so that I had to do a search when I came home to see what others felt about the name, and your blog came up. At least now I have comfort in knowing I'm not the only one...well done, thanks.

Unknown said...

Ruth's Chris sucks. I ordered a medium rare steak and because if their stupidly hot 500°F plate, it was well done by the time I finished. The seasoning sucked too.

Curious said...

When an automotive mechanic need to retard the spark when tuning up a car, is he intellectually diminishing it?

AprilChristina said...

Hahahha! I love it.

AprilChristina said...

I found this page by searching "Why does Ruth's Chris Steakhouse have a stupid name?" Thank you!! Hahaha Your writing was hilarious.

Dad Smart said...

People are offended by all sorts of words pretty much constantly. Those people are called college students.