Dear Rosanne: My Western friends act like pigs in restaurants

Originally published in The China Post (but not online). Read more of Rosanne’s witty and hilarious columns for the culturally discombobulated on her website:

Dear MeiGui;
As an American guy of Chinese descent, I’m used to my buddies back home embarrassing me in Chinatown eateries with their bad manners. Actually, I gave up arguing against using chopsticks to perform drum solos on the table a long time ago; but when my American buddies here in Taiwan act pig ignorant in restaurants, it’s different. I freak.
These guys chose to come here, so I think they should at least try to control their urges to clean ears or bang on rice bowls with chopsticks. Still, every time I say: “Hey, don’t play with your chopsticks?” I get the same knee-jerk response: “Chill man.”
So, I just want to take this opportunity to say to all the manner morons out there: “Chopsticks are eating utensils!” Imagine sitting in a steakhouse back in the US about to cut into a juicy rib-eye, when you spot some guy scratching his back with a fork and picking his nose with the end of a steak knife. What would that do to your appetite?
Listen, I’m no Emily Post, but chopsticks are for eating.
— Nauseated in Hualien

Dear Nauseated;
I think it would be kind of dangerous to pick your nose with a steak knife; but I get your point. Playing with chopsticks at a meal is rude.
Certainly, any foreign kindergarten teacher in Taiwan; even the ones you find passed out under a table at the Brass Monkey on Thursday nights; can tell you this is a golden rule of table etiquette in Taiwan.
Here are some additional reminders for any of the other culturally challenged out there. Chopsticks should not be placed standing up in a rice bowl, as this resembles the positioning of “joss sticks” at a funeral and is bad luck. For very proper chopstick behavior; use the back of your chopsticks when picking up food from a communal plate or reach for a clean set to serve from this dish. When not sure which is the accepted behavior, watch to see how the local people do it; or better, ask someone.
— Good manners aren’t stuffy, MeiGui

Dear MeiGui;
I don’t know what I’ve done, but it’s obvious that I’ve made a big blunder somewhere. Not only has the “Bamboo Curtain” fallen between me and my beloved co-teacher, but now my boss is refusing to speak with me.
It all started with my project for the Lunar New Year. I wanted to give little envelopes of money to my new students here, like I had to my former students in Japan.
I went to a local convenience store and bought a pack of pretty white envelopes with elegant writing on the outside, then showed them to my co-teacher. She immediately suggested that I fill each one with forty dollars in coins.
Now everyone is giving me dirty looks, and my “little flower” refuses to even speak with me. Was forty dollars too cheap?
— Ex-Marine in HsinChu

Dear Ex;
I don’t think your “little flower” shares your affection.
I realize in Japan it’s common practice to give children white envelopes of money for the New Year; but you gave your students – whom I’m guessing are children – funeral envelopes with a number that is sounds a lot like the word for word “dead” in Chinese.
— Holidays are dangerous, MeiGui

— By Rosanne Lin: