DEAR HARRIETTE: I had a weird experience the other day. My girlfriends and I were all out for lunch, and we had a really great server. He was polite, made jokes and light conversation and kept our water and wine glasses full. The only weird part was that each time he left our table, he stood nearby. He would stand near the empty table next to us or at one of the pillars around us. He stayed in close proximity almost as if he were watching us. And it wasn’t like he was keeping an eye out to see if we needed something. He just constantly stared at us like he was listening to us. We all felt like we couldn’t speak, and we had to just eat the food and look happy.
The restaurant was pretty empty, so there wasn’t much else for him to do or other tables to wait, but usually they go back into the kitchen and come out to check on us. It was oddly uncomfortable, and we were unsure of what to say or do. We asked for the check and left, but we didn't enjoy lunch at all. We ended up going to a cafe to chat because we rushed out of there. What would you have recommended that we do in that situation? -- Disturbing Brunch
DEAR DISTURBING BRUNCH: One of you could have gotten up and gone over to him to thank him for taking care of you, adding that you want a bit of space. You could have called him on being overly focused and that you would like some privacy. You also could have spoken to the manager of the restaurant -- not to complain, but just to say that while you appreciate the server's attentiveness, you want to be free to talk with your girls without being so closely observed.