Q. With reference to your reply to the individual who asked how to respond to a friend's inquiry about a poor musical performance, I would like to suggest to you that you might have advised the writer to state: "You played one (or more) of my favorite selections." The better part of being a friend is to avoid, whenever possible, causing unhappiness. One can say this without becoming directly involved in commenting on the quality of the performance. Of course, if one is pressed further for a specific comment on performance, comments on those portions performed adequately could be made, such as, "Your interpretation was very good." In response to the question, "What did you think of my performance?" a friend can always say, "I appreciated your effort and enjoyed the selection."
A. Miss Manners agrees that the object is not to cause unhappiness, or possibly even to cause happiness. Remind her, though, not to ask you if you think she looks all right. You might reply, "Well, I appreciate your effort."
Q. our daughter has been living with her boyfriend and is now engaged and wearing his ring. We have never met his parents, and would like to know if it is our duty to invite them for Sunday dinner to get acquainted, or is it his parents' duty to make the first move? We live 60 miles' distance.
A. The tradition is that the prospective bridegroom's family calls on the family of the prospective bride. That doesn't help at all, because people no longer pay formal calls, in which the person who takes the initiative goes to the other person's house. It has turned into the custom of the bridegroom's family calling up the bride's, and then (because what else can they do?) inviting them over. However, many old fine points of etiquette are no longer observed, as your daughter and son-in-law-to-be have proved, and Miss Manners would not have you insist upon waiting indefinitely for them to make the first call.