After high school, I went to Italy as an exchange student. One day, I was sitting at my host family’s dinner table, happily shoving pasta into my mouth and gulping down whole glasses of water, when the eldest daughter, Anna, spoke up.
“You know,” she said, “you’ll never get a girlfriend if you keep eating like that.”
“Eating like what?” I asked.
“Eating like this,” she said, and did her best impression of a prehistoric man feeding off a mammoth leg. I got a little defensive.
“What does it matter,” I snapped, “as long as the food gets into your mouth?”
“That is so American,” she said. “Here it is not like that. For example, Constanza is thinking about breaking up with her boyfriend because his manners are so bad.”
“Really?” I asked.
If she wanted to get my attention, she had it: