While on a recent cruise, I played on-board tennis with a Belgian girl and a married couple from South African. It was decided that I would play doubles with the Belgian, upon which she asked, “Which side would you like to play?”
I answered her question with a question: “Which side would you like play?”
“No, I’m asking you a question,” she authoritatively said in a thick European accent.
“Oh, right — I guess you did. I’ll take the right side,” I responded.
I couldn’t help but chuckle at the language confrontation. In trying to be overly courteous, as many Americans do, I complicated what should have been a simple exchange. The take-away: forced modesty should always be avoided.