My husband and I went out for one of our rare "intimate" dinners the other night. As he leaned over and said, "You look nice in that dr. . .," our waiter (Hal) interrupted with, "Could I get you something from the bar?"

We ordered, and as I said, "So, tell me about . . .," our waiter returned with the drinks and said, "Are you ready for menus?" We quickly made our decision and started to make small talk when Hal said, "Allow me to tell you about our specials." After he recited the litany, he said he would give us time to think about it. As I opened my mouth to share a bit of family gossip, he returned and asked if we were ready to order.Throughout the meal, he appeared at our elbow, filling our water glasses, taking away excess silverware, replacing bread and asking us how we were enjoying our dinner. Once when I thought I was about to complete a sentence, he said, "Pardon me for interrupting, but could I tell you about our desserts?"

Hal was clearly getting on our nerves. We had spent more time with him in one evening than with our kids over the past year. After he served dessert, he scraped crumbs off the tablecloth, served our coffee and said to let him know when we were ready for the check.

It was the last we would ever see or hear Hal speak again.

I don't know where waiters go with the checks. I only know that the same person who fawned over us like an anxious bridegroom on his wedding night suddenly dropped us like a bad habit.

After 20 minutes of waiting for Hal to return with our check, I observed, "It's a strange time for him to start his vacation."

"After all we've meant to one another, he could at least have said goodbye," said my husband.

"Maybe we should report him missing."

"You have to be gone for 48 hours. We have 46 to go."

Occasionally, we thought we saw Hal dart from the kitchen and serve a table across the room, but we couldn't catch his eye. As we sat there waving our credit card and setting a small fire in the ashtray, it occurred to us that we had become invisible.

Another 20 minutes passed. "Do you realize," said my husband, "that this is the first time all night we've been alone? I've been trying to tell you all night I like your dr. . ."

"Shut up and wave something," I said, "or we'll be here all night."

I'm really worried about Hal. It's not as if he is a stranger to us. If you see him, give us a call. He's about 5-11, weighs about 155 pounds, has a mustache and our check.