Dear Miss Manners: At a recent potluck supper, a friend had brought a salad to which I added vinegar (the Japanese seasoned kind) during the course of the meal. She announced, "I'm afraid we are not good enough friends for you to be able to add seasonings to my dishes."

We have known each other for 15 years and have been eating together two or three times a week.Although I acknowledge my friend is a gourmet cook, I did not think I was impugning the character of her salad by using additional seasoning.

Is it ill-mannered to add seasoning to an already seasoned salad? What do you think of a guest who makes that type of remark to the hostess?

My opinion is de gustibus non disputandum est.

Gentle Reader: Miss Manners (as in de Miss Manners non disputandum est) agrees that you and your friend do not know each other well enough for you to correct her seasoning. Even married couples do not know each other that well.

Dear Miss Manners: I have again been invited to spend New Year's Eve at a huge party given by some close friends at their town house. The three levels of the house are connected by a set of very narrow spiral stairs.

As unbelievable as this may sound, several of the guests, both men and women, quickly discovered that watching from below as the ladies walked up and down left little to the imagination. Quick peeks led to remarks and teasing about what was (or was not) worn beneath some of the short, pouffy party dresses.

Last year, my girlfriend later commented that she did not appreciate the "junior high school" antics of some of my friends.

My new girlfriend, who will go with me this year, couldn't wait to show me the gorgeous new dress she bought, and she looks great in it. It happens to be one of those short, full, puffed-out dresses.

My intention was to compliment her and then mention what happened last year, but I decided not to say anything. Such remarks might seem unfair, off-base and somewhat sexist. Just because I disapprove of this sort of thing and it irritated my old girlfriend, that doesn't mean I should tell my current girlfriend what to do. She's more like the guests who were amused and acted as if they rather enjoyed the playful glances and remarks.

Should I remain silent, or should I strongly recommend a different outfit?

Gentle Reader: Nice group of friends you have there.

But Miss Manners is having a bit of trouble understanding how warning your guest about them would interfere with her civil rights. It is sweet how you worry that it might be sexist to mention that you were delivering her to be peeked up at.

Perhaps the problem lies in your inability to imagine anything between silence and telling her to change dresses. If you do your duty and tell her the custom, she may be able to think of other solutions.

Bloomers are what spring to Miss Manners' mind. Or her wearing the dress to a more civilized gathering.

Dear Miss Manners: As hosts of an annual Super Bowl party, my wife and I supply all of the veggies, chips, dip, drinks and a full meal after the game. We also offer at least drinks or snacks to anyone who returns with us from a shopping trip, a motorcycle cruise or a bicycle ride, and even to those who just stop by while in the neighborhood (we've had them stay for up to five hours). Needless to say, we enjoy having people feel comfortable at our home.

After accepting a friend's invitation to watch a game at his house, we were told "there's nothing in the house" to snack on or drink. When we take acquaintances on outings or excursions, we are wished goodbye at their driveways.

None of our friends are destitute or lacking in money, and we don't wish to sound as if we must have their reciprocity to continue our hospitality. Neither do we feel as if they must reciprocate every time we provide a little refreshment.

But we can't help wondering if we are assuming and expecting too much, or if we are providing too much.

Do you think we are the ones out of touch, or are our friends a little rude?

If they are rude, should we say anything to make them aware of their social blunder, or do we ignore it? If we are incorrect, please suggest when, how often and under what circumstances we should offer our home and hospitality to our acquaintances.

Gentle Reader: Miss Manners dearly hopes that your questionsabout whether you are providing too much, or are out of touch, or even are absolutely incorrect, are merely gracious openings for her to commend your hospitality.

And commend it she does. You and your wife sound like warm and charming people.

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But she is afraid that there might be just a chance that you do have doubts. When people get discouraged at the low standards of others, they are sometimes tempted to sink to the very level that troubles them.

Please do not. You are not only providing a wonderful social life for yourselves and the socially inept but are setting them an example of the kind and proper way to entertain guests in a time when the whole ancient notion of welcoming has been crassly analyzed by people who grudge the energy, thought or cost.

There is not much else you can do, as you cannot politely take others to task for their deficiencies. Do not offer to send out for food at their houses; they would probably let you do it and stick you with the bill besides.

But Miss Manners would not object if you were to reply to that declaration of having nothing in the house by saying: "Then why don't we go over and watch the game at our house? We always have something there for guests."

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