Stranger Stares, Husband Snaps

by Judith Martin

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I were at a restaurant the other day. While the waitress was pouring our wine, my husband suddenly said to the table nearest us (about 6 feet away), “Can I help you?” in a fairly confrontational way. He was not loud, just mildly aggressive and clearly annoyed.

When I asked him what had happened, he said the man at that table had been staring at him. The man said, “I was just looking at the wine bottle, sorry,” and he and his wife went back to eating.

My husband said that the man was clearly drunk and was not looking at the wine bottle, but rather had been staring straight at his face for multiple minutes. My husband had nodded politely, hoping the man maybe didn’t realize he was staring; the man nodded back, but kept staring. So finally my husband reacted.

At first, I was really angry with my husband, because I felt horribly awkward and thought that it could have been handled better (or even ignored). After discussing it with him, though, I’m unsure. He said that he was highly uncomfortable and wanted to put a quick end to the staring.

Is there a better way to have dealt with this? We aren’t the type to “tell on someone” and have the manager address it.


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