When in Europe, Don’t Bare Your Teeth

In preparation for our upcoming trip to the land of the forefathers, my husband the P-Dawg has been taking a crash course in Lithuanian by listening to Pimsler language CDs. There is nothing that pleases me more than quizzing him on his newly obtained knowledge and pronunciation.

“Let’s say someone comes up to you and starts talking in Lithuanian. What do you say?”

Aš nesuprantu.” (I do not understand.)

“Good, good. Okay, and what if you get lost?”

Ar j?s suprantate angliškai?” (“Do you understand English?)

“What about, ‘How much does this beautiful amber ring cost?”

Aš nesuprantu.”

“Excellent. Hey Jonas (turning to my son), are you going to help your father out in Lithuania?”

“No. He can just say, “Aš nesuprantu.”

But the P-Dawg is not the only one in need of tutelage. I haven’t been to Lithuania in almost twenty years. And while I still speak fairly fluently, I took it upon myself to Google the basics of culture and etiquette. When I was there in ’94, I had my mother to shoot daggers at me with her eyes anytime I was about to commit a cultural faux pas, but this time I’ll be on my own.

“One thing you never want to do when in Lithuania,” I informed the P-Dawg, “is to smile openly at a stranger on the street.”

“Why is that?”

“Because they’ll think you’re mocking them, or, worse yet, that you are an idiot.”


“Just don’t show your teeth. Also, it says here not to be surprised if Lithuanians appear dour or depressed. They are extremely good-hearted and hospitable people, but they have to feel comfortable with you before they start to open up.”


“When you first meet someone, you should always address them by their honorific title and surname, not the familiar ‘tu’. And don’t try to hug anyone right off the bat.”

“Got it.”

“You’ll have to hold your fork in your left hand and your knife in your right. Always try a bit of everything and take small first portions because it’s rude to refuse seconds or thirds.”

“Not a problem.”

“Also, it says here that under no circumstances should you wear your ugly-a$$ Poker Stars T-shirt in public, or those god-forsaken brown sneakers you’ve had since 1996.”

“Does it really?”

“Yup. And please to carry bags and open doors for women, especially your wife.”


(Stay tuned for further installments in the series, “Ramas do the Fatherland.”)

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6 thoughts on “When in Europe, Don’t Bare Your Teeth

  1. dede Marius

    Come on!!!! Not show your teeth….I definitely disagree….worst comes to worst give them one of my business cards…….

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