Judith Martin, better known as the syndicated columnist "Miss Manners," had a gem of a column today. Here's an abbreviated version:
Question: I drove through my neighborhood's relatively new beer barn for the first time yesterday... You drive in, open a window and tell the girl in a bikini what you want.I'd never heard of a beer barn before, much less been to one. Especially one with bikini-clad sales women.
...I assume part of the business model includes the girl in the bikini being underpaid and expecting tips from fellows who find her appearance compelling.
As a gay man... am I exempt from this? If a man of similar age, attire and friendliness served me in the same situation, I'd give him a dollar.
Answer: Is it any wonder that Miss Manners hates tipping questions?...
But the fact is that reasonable tipping is dependent not only on the price paid, but on such variables as the custom of the region, the degree of luxury of the establishment and the frequency with which the same service is used. It is therefore impossible to give a standard answer.
And now you go and add the element of how much erotic appeal the server has to the customer. Thanks. Miss Manners doesn't doubt that consideration of this might apply to some, but perhaps not to the etiquette-conscious.
The theme of bikinis and tipping reminds me of your bachelor party, SG. What a memorable night. Readers, in brief, GG had a plan to celebrate, many years ago, SG's upcoming wedding with a modest evening at a comedy club and a round of beers. (Imported, bottled, of course.) That plan fell apart as soon as SG's high school buddies got involved. It turned into the traditional sitcom of a bunch of drunk guys being driven around from strip club to strip club. As a gay man, temporarily -- and uncharacteristically -- sober, it was especially frightening/amusing for me.
My favorite bit: At about the third stop, I was barely containing the urge to pull out a Wet Wipe and give the poles a good rub down. The cocktail waitress approached. She was firm, spangled, bikini-clad, dyed and scary.
"What'll you have?" she asked with the rasp of a thousand cigarettes.
"Oh, just a glass of water."
She gave a look that was as gritty as her voice.
"Buddy, let me tell you how it works. See all these people here? They're drinking and tipping. When I come back around, you'll be ordering or leaving. Understand?"
It was a delicious Bud Lite. Plus tip.
I loved that night, SG. It's given me more than a decade of stories that never fail to amuse.
I'm glad you were entertained, GG. Tell me, which aspect was most edifying? The spontaneous fist fights? The crazed van driver-for-hire? Or, the humiliating write-up in the next morning's newspaper? As I recall, you slipped quietly away sometime after midnight, and any pretense of decorum left with you. That was a good move, and I should have followed you. (Don't worry, readers. Nothing tragic, no lasting shame, and absolutely no need for a visit to the free clinic, just a lot of unnecessary nonsense.)
Back to the question at hand. There's a fine line between working and workin' it.
I'm not sure how many gay men find themselves at bikini drive-throughs or car washes, but yes, extra tipping is required. But maybe these ladies will allow you to give them fashion or style tips, instead.
Look, I've never even been to a Hooters. But I know the deal. It's the same deal at a trashy "Bikini Brew Through" and at a swanky Vegas lounge. It's a proven system: straight guys are suckers. If an attractive lady gives us flirty attention, we will tip for the privilege.
And if you ever follow through on your threats to take me to Drag Queen Brunch, I will keep these rules in mind.