Last night we had an awkward moment. No, it was more like ninety awkward moments. We had decided to have dinner downstairs at the picnic table. Unfortunately, as Tony arrived with a stack of plates, he realized that Giorgio and Carla, our neighbors across the way, and the family downstairs were all having a communal dinner at the picnic table. He heard them suddenly fall silent, and then rapid whispering. No matter. There is a second, smaller table, so he turned toward it. However, it was holding their dessert. They quickly moved it. Thoroughly embarrassed, he set the plates down.

I came down with food, and suggested that we retreat upstairs, since we had obviously made a serious faux pas. However, Tony said that would be even weirder, and that we should just press on, and everything would be fine. Unfortunately, just as we were discussing it, the nice man from downstairs came over and gifted us several of the sausages he had just finished grilling. All the while, the whispering went on at the other table. Now completely chagrined, Tony decided to jump from the frying pan into the fire. He said we should move over to the big table to show them we didn’t think we were better (we don’t, of course. But we have the impression we sometimes come across as snobby despite our best efforts to the contrary, so we spend a lot of time making sure people know we like and respect them).

He grabbed an armful of dinner and headed over. When he got there, though, he realized that there was no room at all, so had to resort to moving Carla’s plate over to set down his things (she had run upstairs for a moment). There was no room, but there was no turning back now either. Next, Tony had the idea to move the little table over by the side of the big table. I thought it would be better to dig a hole and bury our heads in it, but I was overruled. So we sat at the table, trying for about an hour to fill the awkward silence. Sigh. We’d better make cookies for everyone again. Why can’t we be more Italian?

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