Okay, so I'm not necessarily a particularly confrontational person. In fact, I shake before I speak up, whether that be in class, in (godforbid) a performance, in general. Which doesn't mean I don't speak up, it just means that I've accepted the tremulous corporeal quality of said speaking. And, you know, I'm cool with that. Quivers can be sexy too. However, I was completely unprepared for my experience recently at my favorite post-class wine bar Shade. A place I may very well never venture into again. Harrumph. (Where else to procure my favorite vino verde within easy distance of that beacon of academic veracity and exploitative verve that is NYU???)
So, it's Friday evening. I'm in "the city" because I'm meeting a student for coffee, then seeing a friend's film, then a student show. It is a full evening, and well deserving of a little lubrication. Betweenst coffee date and film, I head, with Jacques Ranciere's The Politics of Aesthetics firmly in hand, to Shade. It's a good spot to spend the off hour, and to contemplate.
Whilst there, I engage two somewhat elderly gentleman, both retired professors, who are waxing WAY poetic. I think they're cute. Clearly, this is some sort of academic sin that I will not commit again. I ask where they teach; they ask what I do. And then, seriously, all HELL breaks loose.
Apparently, the fact that I study, legitimately, performance art is a SERIOUS affront to more-elderly gentleman (who is NOT a gentleman at ALL) of the two. I am, in his, oft-repeated words, a "phony." This was accompanied by an almost Gertrude Stein-ian repetition of "WOULD YOU ROLL IN PIG SHIT FOR FREE." I kid you not.
For the record, I'm not really that interested in pig shit. Blood, other bodily materials, sure. Just not the explicitly scatalogical. But I didn't have the time, shall we say, to explicate this. I simply, after being YELLED AT for a full-on three minutes, paid for the gentleman's drink, and (this is significant, considering the fact that I live on a grad student/adjunct prof salary) left mine UNFINISHED, and walked out. Well, there. Can you think of a better way of saying "Fuck you" without actually saying it?
Not knowing whether to laugh or cry (and veering dangerously close to the latter), I simply moved on. It was, indeed, a New York experience, whatever that means. But, point to this anti-eligiacal fabel: love what you do, and always have an extra $20 on hand.
Oh, and old men, as cute as they might seem, are evil.