DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband has the (bad) habit of "looking up" information regularly on his cellphone in the middle of conversations. (He looks up information relevant to the conversation topic.)
I've just gotten used to it when the two of us are alone, but at times he does it when we are out with others. I have told him I think this is extremely rude, especially because our companions must think he's checking his email and ignoring them, and I have suggested that at the very least he explain, "You mentioned sweetbread recipes; I'm checking the ingredients." But he won't.
How should I behave when he does this? Stern looks have no effect. Should I make light of it and offer our companions an explanation -- "Herbert is always looking up interesting facts"? Or do I just bite my tongue and let our companions feel insulted?
GENTLE READER? The former. If your husband won't offer an excuse as to why he is checking his phone, then you may do so on his behalf. If you do it enough, perhaps he will start to do it himself.
But at the very least, you will feel better and your companions will feel less slighted. You may tell Herbert from Miss Manners, however, what you and your friends already know: that disrupting the flow of conversation in the name of enhancing the conversation may actually be the death of conversation.