DEAR ABBY: I'm comfortable with my faith and pray before a meal at home and at friends' houses. We have become friendly with individuals from our church, and on many occasions have gone out to eat together at restaurants. When the meal is brought out, it has become a custom to pray. I feel uncomfortable praying aloud in public, and have seen others at our table already eating when someone says, "Let's pray."
My wife tells me to just go with it. But sometimes when the praying goes on for a lengthy time, I start to get sweaty and on the verge of a panic attack. I wish they would take into consideration that others may feel praying is a private matter. I don't believe that because one person doesn't want to do something, others shouldn't do it.
So what say you? When food is brought to the table, should I dash to the restroom, or would that be rude? -- PREFERS PRAYING PRIVATELY
DEAR P.P.P.: No rule of etiquette decrees that you must pray out loud if someone else chooses to. Obviously, others in the group feel as you do, or they wouldn't start eating. Because the situation makes you uncomfortable to the point of a panic attack, I think your solution to excuse yourself from the table for a few minutes is a good one -- provided you say over your shoulder that you could be gone "awhile" and no one should wait for you.