DEAR ABBY: My husband and I go out to dinner once a month with a couple we have known for years. "Joe" is an active conversationalist, while my husband is fairly quiet.
The problem is Joe addresses only me and stares at me throughout the meal. I think it's just a bad habit he has acquired. To no avail I have tried various seating arrangements to avoid the constant stare. It makes me very uncomfortable. I feel bad for my husband, who is totally ignored, but doesn't seem to care as long as the food is good!
How do I get Joe to include my husband in the conversation and rest his gaze elsewhere? I would never say anything to "Mrs. Joe" about it because I don't want to make her uncomfortable, too. I really want to continue the friendship and the socializing, but I'd like to feel more relaxed at the dinner table. Any suggestions? -- DISTRESSED DINER
DEAR DISTRESSED: You are not helpless. The next time Joe directs his comments and questions only to you, toss the verbal ball to your husband and say, "Honey, what do you think about that?" It will give him an opening to enter the conversation.
As for the staring, Joe may not be aware of what he's doing. You could bring it to his attention by simply saying: "You keep looking at me, Joe. Do I have food in my teeth? Is my lipstick smeared?" Then haul out a compact and make a show of checking for yourself. It may help to curb his discomfiting habit.