At zumba today, it seemed like a woman was crowding me who had more room on the other side of her—it's fairly common for dancers to drift a bit as they try to follow the leader, especially on new moves. So I asked if she could move over a little. She gave me a look, then moved a little. Afterward, I said I was sorry if I made her self-conscious. She said she was offended because she hadn't wanted to crowd the person on the other side of her. I was surprised by "offended"—Minnesotans aren't known for being quick to take offense, so it surprises me when someone in Minneapolis goes right there. I said something vague about these things being challenging when it's crowded as she walked off.
But I had touched on one of the American taboos, body space. I had implied that she was encroaching on mine by asking her if she could move over a little. When she said she was offended, I should've just said immediately I was sorry, that I had thought she had more room and I was mistaken. Because really, what does it matter? In this case, the goal isn't to be right. It's just to be able to get along when the class is crowded.