Tonight, we are watching The International. With Clive Owen. No further comment.
Husbands can be annoying creatures, and any woman who had been married for at least five years (to the same man) and claims nothing he does or says irritates her is a shameless liar. If you are single, I would not recommend you hanging out with women like that, because that might give you an unrealistic outlook on marriage. If you are married, you should know better.
There is one thing my husband does that winds me up big time. He corrects me. But I guess I have to be grateful.
Because different cultures have different understanding of good manners.
I was raised by so called intelligentsia back home. Our family had generations of impressive figures, such as famous poets and doctors. (With an occasional Bolshevik, but that probably felt right at the time.)
So what I am saying is that I always thought, perhaps naively, that I was brought up well, had good manners and knew how to act in public. I thought I was pretty civilized.
Until I got married and moved to the UK.
We all heard that there are some cultures where it is easy to insult someone by doing something simple. I would guess you are thinking: Japan. We all heard about the Japanese etiquette and westerners making fools of themselves. I even remember studying a case in my business school. About an American businessman who never managed to seal a good deal in Japan, because he threw his business card across the table.
Back in Baku, I had so many colleagues and friends from abroad that I felt well accustomed to the western culture- way before I relocated. So, I thought I knew it all.
And here I am. Making myself look common and disgusting at my friend’s house. Without having a clue that I was making a social faux pas.
I was invited for lunch on a Friday afternoon, and everything was very pleasant. I had washed and blow dried my hair that morning, so I left it down. The problem with that is that:
a) It is long.
b) It is dark.
c) It falls out a lot.
d) When it does, it is more obvious- due to all of the above
So we sat there chatting, surrounded by wine, pizzas and quiches. Suddenly, I noticed a couple of my hairs, as usual, stuck to my sleeve-right there, on the table. I hate when that happens, so I complained that my hair falls out a lot, apologised and picked them both off. Without thinking, I just dropped them on the floor. It was something I would have done at home, on the street or in the gym-anywhere. Because I simply would not think about it. My friend looked down at them landing, and told me it was gross.
Curious whether I was actually being that awful, or my friend was being too fussy, I thought I would check with my personal manners guru.
Husband was horrified. He told me it was awful! Rude! Common! Disgusting!
Basically, the worst thing I could have done in a decent company. He said it was as if I suddenly started picking my nose at the table.
I thought of all the occasions when my hair falls on the table, my clothes or floor without me even realizing, and got depressed. I must appear common, after all.
I often notice these days, when I go back, that people talk with their mouth full. Depending on the menu, the sight can be pretty revolting. Shashlik is the worst, as it takes a long while to chew each piece, and Azeries are impatient to jump into a conversation. Which leads us to another social taboo in the UK, and something Azeries don’t seem to mind as much: interrupting someone else speaking.
People in Baku are too impatient, too eager to say something, too enthusiastic!
And the one I personally always forget. Reaching across the table to get something. That one is a tricky one, because I know why we do it. To not bother our neighbour. Why ask someone’s help if I can reach that salt? So what that my sleeve is in his plate and my armpit is in his face?
There was a time, when I did not think about these things. Nowadays, trained by husband, I can’t possibly miss them. Things I never even noticed before, my hawk eye picks up straight away. And yet…..
PS Told my mother about the hair situation. Oh-she said- I hate when you do that, that IS disgusting. You pull them off your clothes, and dump them on the floor or ground. Oh…, - I thought. It is not cultural then. It is me.