Miss Manners: Eager suitor seeks father's permission to date daughter

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dear Miss Manners:

I took the father of a young lady I would like to pursue to lunch a few months ago, seeking his permission and approval to date his daughter. After an encouraging lunch and conversation about our relationship, we decided that it would be best to wait until she was done with school for the year.

As we parted ways, I was instructed to wait until he told me it was okay to talk with her. Now, months later, I still haven't heard anything.

Is it wrong to discuss this with him again? I don't want to come across as impatient, as I certainly believe she is worth the wait, and I trust that he has her best interests in mind. How would you recommend approaching this conversation?

What conversation? The one that starts with the premise that the father is willing and the daughter is eager, but somehow they have neglected to inform you?

Let us hope that the gentleman was charmed or amused or both by your use of the 19th-century formality of asking a father's permission to court his daughter. Or perhaps you had rather hoped that the daughter was charmed -- because one of the two has vetoed the idea. And even in Victorian times, as Miss Manners recalls, daughters would ultimately prevail in such matters.

Dear Miss Manners:

My niece just graduated and we received an announcement. What was puzzling was the fact that there was an empty, stamped self-addressed smaller envelope inside. Nothing else. Is this rude, or just me?

Don't you think she was hoping for news of you, and wanted to save you the trouble of looking up her address and the cost of the postage?

At any rate, that is the way you should use the envelope. Miss Manners hopes you do not think so little of your niece to suspect that she intended you to fill the envelope with money.

Dear Miss Manners:

I sing with an amateur volunteer group of seniors. Two of us have been volunteering to open a meeting at a local nursing home with an informal little show. We sing a few songs before the meeting begins, then sit quietly until they're through with their meeting.

Would it be rude to leave just as they call the meeting to order, or is it more rude to sit and listen to all their business? We certainly wouldn't want to offend anyone. The director of the meeting says he doesn't care.

Leave. You are there as performers, Miss Manners reminds you, not as guests. Well, guest performers, if you insist, but chiefly performers. And performers need to know when to acknowledge any applause, thank their audience and get off stage.

Feeling incorrect? E-mail your etiquette questions to Miss Manners (who is distraught that she cannot reply personally) at MissManners@unitedmedia.com or mail to United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.

2010 Judith Martin

© 2010 The Washington Post Company