Stripper turns award-winning college instructor? Hardly. Welcome to my most embarrassing moment in the classroom.

For an actual academic (and fascinating) discussion of stripping,
see herePhoto credit.

“You were a stripper?!” he exclaimed, brown eyes wide as saucers, grin suggesting more approval than surprise.

“Yes, Alex, it was the classic Cinderella tale. Stripper turns academic.” The rest of the class laughs. I am still reeling.

Moments before, we’d been discussing deception and lies of omission. I asked the class for an example, and one of my other students said something like “A lie of omission would be when I tell my boss that I went out to dinner with the vendors… but neglect to say dinner was at an establishment with ladies who dance…”

I laughed, and explained how the student had inadvertently shared a lie of omission and equivocation. Hooray for vague, strategic ambiguity. As the class tittered about his strip-club-visiting admission, I said I wouldn’t pass judgment. I said my thoughts on strip clubs weren’t relevant anyway.

That being the case, Lord knows how I got myself into talking about the time I applied to work at a strip club to put myself through college. My private, Christian $24,000/year college.

After making the revelation, I’m surprised to see 22 pairs of stunned eyes looking back at me. I’ve told the story before without such a reaction.

And then it hits me.

“Ah, I neglected to say ‘I applied to work at a strip club… as a SERVER’, didn’t I?”

The class erupts in laughter. I laugh, too, because it really is funny, despite my mortification.

Oh. My. Gawd. I just told my class that I was a stripper! Ahhhhhhhhhh! 

I mentally scramble, explaining that I’ve had a lot of interesting jobs–locksmith’s apprentice, fly fishing fly maker–but nothing so revealing as erotic dancer. I hope this will be a blip, a few minutes of levity in an otherwise tiresome evening class, and essentially it is. Until Alex surfaces from whatever delayed timezone he seems to be occupying lately to ask, with startling sincerity, about my past employment.

In response, I make the Cinderella comment and promise to write about him later. And here I am.

Now, the really fun part of this story is that just a few hours earlier in the day, I’d accepted a Teaching Excellence Award from ASU’s Graduate Professional Student Association. Out of thousands of teaching associates and assistants on our campus, I was one of 22 who received accolades for my instructional abilities after a review of my teaching philosophy, teaching portfolio, and two classroom observations. Wow, it is a good thing my observers were not present for the stripper convo!

While this now ranks as my most embarrassing teaching moment, I know it will be probably be superseded in due time. And that’s one of the things I love about teaching. At least in my classroom, it’s never boring.


Update: Mr. T brought it to my attention that I never actually clarified whether I worked in the club or not. For the record, no, I have never been employed, in any capacity, by a strip club. One visit freaked me out too much. Although it was much cleaner than I anticipated, I couldn’t get over the fact that patrons looked more like professors and fathers than the frat boys and bachelor-party stereotypes I’d imagined.

Other teachery posts:
– Back in the teaching saddle and loving it
– The loves and hates of teaching
– Grading Nazi/Kindergarten teacher/saint: Processing student evaluations
– I heart the first day of school
– Wait, they’re not actually demon seed?
– Reading about spiritual practices: Sometimes grading can be fun
– Grades are not Halloween candy

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