Dear Miss Manners: Some good friends of ours, a husband and wife, have a painting of the wife in their living room. The painting is a nude from her much younger days. It is not erotic, but it is very large and very explicit and detailed. She is looking at the viewer with a direct challenge.
When we visit, we are always taken to this room. I’ve asked to go to another room or to the garden, but my hostess says she loves to entertain in that room because of the sea view, which it does have.
It does not seem there is any polite way to avoid the giant nude, short of not visiting at all. Can you think of a way?
Many social situations require one to ignore the obvious; this is called tact. Miss Manners would have thought this was one of the less unpleasant of such situations, as you will be able to have a good snicker about it in the car on the way home.
Dear Miss Manners: My son is getting married, and I am wondering how to handle family photographs. I have several nieces and nephews who are living with significant others, and I am not sure if I should include the couples in the family photos.
Also, I do not like my dad’s girlfriend of 20 years and I prefer not to have her in the photos. They do not live together. What would be appropriate?
It depends on your purpose in photographing the wedding.
If it is to commemorate an event that brought family and friends together for a happy celebration without simultaneously diminishing that happiness, then Miss Manners counsels against making guests feel unwanted. If it is to remind your father and his girlfriend that you do not like her … but even then, surely there are other opportunities to do so.
Dear Miss Manners: I just received an invitation to a 70th birthday surprise party for one of my friends, sent by the honoree’s daughter-in-law. The method she used was to send a text invitation to one of our mutual friends, who then forwarded it as a multiple-person text message. We are supposed to RSVP individually to the hostess.
I have never had such an impersonal invitation. The hostess didn’t even bother to get all of the email addresses to send an Evite. I will not be going; obviously, I don’t rate a direct invitation.
I get that those younger than me live and die by text messages, but this seems a little extreme. Your thoughts?
Invitations to company picnics and neighborhood block parties may be posted on bulletin boards, whether cork or electronic. Most private parties, however, require an individual invitation, issued by someone with the authority to do so.
Guests can generally differentiate the two categories by whether the host is requesting a response. Hosts can do so by considering how they will feel when their cousin’s girlfriend’s houseguest rings the doorbell.
While Miss Manners agrees that the daughter-in-law made a poor choice, she would decline for the simple reason that she would not know if she would be welcomed.
New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.
© 2023 Judith Martin