I'm terrified of menus at fancy restaurants--as the seem to always feature some entree or appetizer that I cannot pronounce, that I have to point at and mumble, that I can't order because of my incompetence. I recently experienced this at Cafe Shelburne, where I had no idea how to pronounce certain entrees and simply pointed, allowing the waiter to judge me harshly, his embarrassment of the situation obvious in his sad smile.
I was wondering if there are others out there, who struggle, who worry, who slink away to the bathroom right before ordering, passing the order baton to another unfortunate soul? I hope you're out there, or I fear I'm all alone in the pronunciation battle.
I wonder how much of this being judged is real and how much you're projecting into the situation.
My feeling on this is that, in the end, it doesn't matter. I can't know everything and I refuse to be ashamed of that. I actually ASK the waitstaff how to pronounce something. I point to it and say "How do you say that, is it <whatever lame pronunciation I come up with>?" and I let them correct me. I usually find that my being willing to just accept I have short comings, and to ask for help is disarming and often warms the waitstaff up to me. I do it in a friendly, smiling way, and -let- them help me. I also look them in the eye, and smile at them, and repeat their name if they introduce themselves to me.
I think too often people try to come across as sophisticated and in the end they just look snobby. But then, I'm a rural country girl at heart, and I don't care about being at all sophisticated... I just choose to 1) believe the waitstaff aren't judging me unless there is incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, 2) be actually friendly and -notice people- and try to be warm without being gooey to the people serving me, and 3) actually don't CARE that I am ignorant about some things.