DEAR MISS MANNERS: While I think I enjoy myself as much as anyone, I'm a low-key person who doesn't demonstrate that with, say, gales of laughter or table-dancing. I also seem to have one of those faces that look "serious" by default, even when I'm in a perfectly good mood.
So I suspect this is why I've now been to several parties where the host has approached me to ask, "Are you having fun?"
Since this always takes me by surprise, it's all I can do to slap a cheerful expression on my face and blurt, "Yes! Great party!" -- a little guiltily, as if I've been caught committing the social faux pas of not expressing enough joy and must quickly cover it up.
Does etiquette approve of this question? Part of me thinks it's just the host being hospitable by making sure the guests are comfortable and happy. But the other part feels like I've been confronted by the Sociability Police and shamed into being more jovial on pain of being a rude guest.
GENTLE READER: Most people have seen a child react to an unwelcome present without enthusiasm, and many of us have witnessed the consequent struggle between related adults, some of whom applaud the child's honesty while others condemn it as rudeness.
Miss Manners prefers to reason with children of a certain age, pointing out that a negative reaction to well-intended gifts dampens the giver's enthusiasm for a repeat performance.
The same rule applies to adult guests: A reasonable cheerfulness is a basic social grace. Anywhere other than an operetta, a host cannot reasonably expect table-dancing, and should not fish for instant reviews.