Ah, Shannen, it was precisely a family from Massawhatsis I was thinking about. Irish kids, full of energy and spunk, who’d march right up to my dad and say, “Ray, what do you think of…” etc.
It struck us as, well, unthinkable, like giving the Queen of England a noogie. As far as I can remember, most people handled it gracefully, figuring that the little Yankees just didn’t know no better, and that the polite thing to do is not to make the other person feel uncomfortable.
Julie and I still laugh about how freaked out we’d get at New York dinner parties when people would start arguing. We were both raised to avoid social unpleasantness, and disputation at a social gathering counts as unpleasantness. Of course in New York it’s not considered unpleasant at all, and we knew that, but still, old habits are very, very hard to break. We have a friend, a native New Yorker who worked for a few years here in Dallas, who was driven up the wall by the inability of people to be direct, and to have an argument without coming undone and taking it personally.