“The waitress arrived with their drinks and Paul ordered for them. He seemed pretty knowledgeable so Colleen sipped her coconut milk. It was very sweet despite its suspicious dirty dishwater color. She pulled out her chopsticks and studied them. They were attached at one end. How was she supposed to get food between them if they were attached?

“Here, you hold them like this.” Paul pulled his out of their paper wrapper and broke them apart. Colleen studied the way he held them and tried to copy it. “Let me show you.” He reached across the table and formed her hands around the sticks. “See, this bottom one stays still. You use the top one to pinch the bite of food you want.” He closed his hands around hers to demonstrate.

“Oh, I see.” She wiggled the sticks. “I hope I can manage to make them work with food.”


This past summer I went to Disney World to meet up with a friend and her daughter. One of the places her daughter had gotten reservations for us was Teppan Edo. It’s a one of those places where they cook the food in front of you and you sit with strangers. There were three of us, a family of three with a small child, and an older couple. The older couple looked at the chopsticks with fear, but I lived in Korea for two years and have taught kindergarten for five so I was up to the task of teaching these people to eat with chopsticks. It was a valiant effort, but they gave up about half way through the meal. I—being unconscionably stubborn—ate the entire meal with chopstick clutched in my out-of-practice fingers. Ow, ow, ow.


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