Is the rash of “I cannot tip you because of your lifestyle…” queer server stories a concentrated response to increased visibility and enfranchisement of queer persons, or have bigots since time immemorial not been tipping their queer servers and only now, because of increased visibility and enfranchisement etc., are these stories receiving attention? Is it a social media thing? Are people on both sides receiving instructions to do as such? (If your server is gay, don’t tip; if you are a server who wasn’t tipped because you are gay, snap a pic of it and upload to Reddit.) I’m interested in the economics is all. I would also like to know if there is a kind of Ur-no-tip story. Maybe this is cyclical. I find it vaguely touching and also stupendously ludicrous that persons see a receipt as an appropriate and even necessary space to air their insecurities about the culture, about difference, about sexuality, about desire.
When I get done with a failed lecture I feel like I’ve gone through a break-up. I can’t move. I have to sit in the dark of the class for a while to get the courage to go out into the world again. I feel over-exposed and also very isolated, invisible but too present. I think about what I could and should have said, how I might have begun, where I might have recovered sooner, what I should do next time, next time, if only the opportunity unfolds! Sometimes the lecture works. Sometimes the class discussion achieves lift-off. Mostly I start with an image or a song, a small video clip, and begin a rapport with that day’s reading, angling towards some comprehension of its merits, its lessons, wading into the tide with a net and pulling, pulling, picnicking, too. After fifteen or so minutes I know if I’ll implode under my own nerves or weather the strange silence of the students. Fifteen minutes, and I will think, this is going to be a fine fling for this fall afternoon, a fine romance; or, and this happens too often to bear, I think, it’s fifteen minutes and I know, nope, I’ve lost them, I’ve lost myself, the notes are wrong, the notes are sour and slow, this is going to be an hour of near-begging the point, slow plodding pleading for the gathered souls to wait out my speech. I have tried no notes lectures, I have done minimal notes, Power Point-guided, all notes, all rehearsed, and even paper presentation. Variations thereof. I have tried Socratic methods. I have tried democracy and autocracy. I have tried very much “being myself,” mostly by not wearing professional attire and investigating work that interests me, that I have questions about; I have addressed work that interests students, that students had questions about, and I wore my suit and tie. I am fundamentally uncomfortable in front of twenty-eight people, especially as eight of them are working on iPhones on desktops in front of me. The savor is enhanced by my own incomprehension of basic rhetoric and composition principles. My description of the relationship between myself and teaching, I think, should not be romantic, should not be a wooing. It must be impersonal and calm and probably brisk, very brisk, because what students should accomplish in my coursework is the capacity to write a decent cover letter.