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MOTHER SHOULD REFER TO HUSBAND AS DAUGHTER'S FATHER IN FRONT OF HER FRIENDS

Dear Miss Manners: What is the appropriate way to refer to my husband when I am conversing with people who are not on a first-name basis with him - for example, the friends of my college-age daughter?

It sounds stuffy to speak of him as "Mr. Belvedere," and, in my daughter's presence, it would be odd to refer to him either as "Richard" or "my husband."But if I call him "Anne's father," Anne pretends she's not sure whom I am referring to, rounding her eyes and asking innocently, "Who? You mean Dad?"

I balk at the final possibility, which is to refer to my husband as "Dad."

Gentle Reader: You already know the appropriate way to refer to your husband under these circumstances. What you need is an appropriate way to answer your daughter when she is being tiresome about it.

One method is simply to reply, "Yes, dear," in a patient but exhausted voice, closing your eyes and nodding to indicate your familiarity with her little routine. It may take several such occasions before your daughter decides that her joke is not worth her being made to appear to be such a child.

But there is a way to do it in one stroke. Imitate her round-eyed innocence and reply, in front of her friends, "Well, dear, as far as I know."

Dear Miss Manners: We recently installed hardwood floors in our home, primarily to replace vinyl floors that had been ruined by guests wearing high-heeled shoes. Now I read that high-heeled shoes are very hard on hardwood floors.

Since we love to entertain, how can we politely ask our guests to please not wear high heels in our house?

Gentle Reader: Floors may be a lot of fun, but they are not as much fun as people. If you have long enjoyed entertaining, Miss Manners supposes you agree.

Therefore, you have previously thought of your floors - if you thought of them at all - as places to accommodate your guests, rather than thinking of guests as people who must accommodate the floors. Miss Manners sees no reason for you to reverse this by making it clear to your guests that the floors come first.

It is easier to acquire a rug than a new set of friends.

Dear Miss Manners: I find it disturbing when people call the gathering after a funeral a "party," but I don't know the proper term for it.

Gentle Reader: The proper term is "Louisa and the children are going to be in terrible shape this afternoon - let's take them over something and stay with them."

Miss Manners understands that this is a bit cumbersome, and that a custom has evolved of announcing that the family will be receiving friends at home after the funeral, an event for which food and drink is set out, in a way similar to what one would do for a party.

Nevertheless, the term is disastrous. It suggests festivity, and only encourages the deplorable habit people have nowadays of refusing to recognize that a funeral is a sad occasion, rather than just an opportunity for them to socialize with people they haven't seen for a while.

Miss Manners therefore suggests expanding the usage of "wake" from the vigil kept before a funeral to include that afterwards.

Judith Martin is author of "Miss Manners' Guide for the Turn-of-the-Millennium" (Pharos Books).