I would like to know the proper way to react in a situation that I have never been in until recently. A group of us, similar to a church group or a club, get together fairly often and sometimes go to public establishments for food and/or drink.

One evening, as we were getting up to leave on such establishment a male member of our group, who had spent most of the evening conversing with another female of our group, drew his hand across my derriere. Perhaps I should mention that I had been trying to get this young man's attention for some weeks, very unsuccessfully, I might add.

I was taken aback and didn't know how to react. I looked in his face, trying to find an explanation there, but found none. As I reflect on this act, I am rather insulted. Miss Manners, would there have been a more proper way to react?

A. You were quite right in your response -- assuming that the searching look you gave him was a combination of "I can't believe that really happened" and "How dare you?" -- even somewhat restrained.

The alternative would have been to scream, and let him worry about the explanation to the others. The action you describe is simply not a proper form of attention with which to open a relationship of a personal nature between a young lady and a young gentleman. When you get further along in such a relationship, with someone more worthy of your attention, come back to Miss Manners and she will explain where it does fit.

Q. I am 13 years old and though my problems are not earth-shaking, one of them has really been bothering me. I own two gold rings which I wear every day, and never take off. Recently, I received a silver bangle (the only piece of silver jewelry that I own). When I wore it to school, a friend commented (in strickest of confidence, of course) that gold and silver just don't mix. I went home and told my mother about my encounter. She said that my friend was crazy and that gold and silver work perfectly fine together. She wears this combination herself. Who is right? Does mother always know best?

A. Slow down. You are asking Miss Manners different questions.

The answers are: Yes, mother always knows best. And friends who criticize you in strictest confidence for you won good are always mistaken.

Nevertheless, it is true that there is a rule, which has fallen into disuse, about not mixing these metals. It is a great sorrow to Miss Manners to have to report information that goes against her emotional sense of who is right and who is wrong.

Q. Please help me with this awkward situation. Last year, I was engaged to be married to my boyfriend of five years. After one month, he called it off. We spoke by phone and there was no mention of the ring. A year has gone by and we talk occasionally on a friendly basis.What is the proper way to handle this? My friends say I keep the ring since he was the one who called it off. My sister says I should rturn it, because of what it stands for. I love the ring but I want to do what is right.

A. The right way of thinking about an engagement ring is as a symbol of the person who gave it, valued according to the preciousness of the relationship and not any standard by which jewelry is ordinarily judged. A speck on long prongs, if it comes from a loving heart, is worth more than the most dazzling jewel from a cold heart. Miss Manners doesn't believe this, either, but you asked what was right, and that is right. Officially, you must now consider the ring worthless. Give it back.