© St. Petersburg Times, published July 5, 2002
LITTLE GIRLS all over South Tampa worry that they have sinned and face eternal damnation. So says my friend Janet, mother of a 9-year-old.
Chalk it up to Pete & Shorty's Tavern on Dale Mabry Highway, where a poster of Michelangelo's David presides over the women's bathroom.
David's private parts are covered by a hinged, metal fig leaf.
LITTLE EMILY succumbed to temptation, only to learn that the fig leaf is wired to an alarm outside.
How often does the alarm go off? "Basically, every time a woman goes into the bathroom," says a manager, Tom Thompson.
Violators get an "I peeked at Pete & Shorty's" button -- and little else. Beneath the metal fig leaf, there's a permanent fig leaf.
REMEMBER CLINTON Lee, the goofy 20-year-old college student who pedaled a stationary bike for days on Franklin Street in April, chased by rain and sweat?
He wasn't so goofy.
Clinton, you may recall, needed $5,000 in donations to join the European AIDS Vaccine Ride, a trek from Amsterdam to Paris organized by the for-profit fundraiser Pallotta TeamWorks.
HE'S EXPECTED to pedal through the hills of Champagne, France, today and ride into Paris the next.
"It cost him $1,100 to fly over there, which he paid," says his mother, Vicky Jones, a Bible teacher in Largo. "He's been working two jobs. We found out he had his $5,000 on Wednesday, before he left on Friday."
THESE ARE BAD days to throw out junk mail. The postman puts food on the table.
The conspiracy of calories began in the spring, when Ruth's Chris Steak House dispatched cellophane envelopes with plastic gift cards inside, good for $25 apiece, at least enough for an appetizer.
RECENTLY, Big City Tavern sent out two-for-one dinner coupons. Then came Chick-Fil-A's debut on S Dale Mabry Highway and a trio of coupons good for a free Chick-Fil-A Sandwich, a Chick-Fil-A Chicken Biscuit and a Chick-Fil-A Kids' Meal.
(Not that Chick-Fil-A needed more traffic. Tampa hasn't seen such drive-through lines since the days of gas rationing.)
Palma Ceia is ready for dessert. Isn't it time for a mass mailing from Mike's Pies?
PARTING WORDS, courtesy of Ed Hirshberg, the retired University of South Florida English professor who died Saturday at age 86, still coaching writers.
Ed read fiendishly, despite failed vision.
He smiled often, no matter the Parkinson's and the arthritis.
He left Tampa a better place.
"Don't be so serious," he liked to say.
"Life's too mysterious."
-- Tampa's Kennedy Boulevard was once called Grand Central. Now Grand Central is a weekly City Times column. Writer Patty Ryan can be reached at 226-3382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.