Q. I am dating a man I'll call John. We both are divorced and have children, but that is the least of our worries.

The problem is John's ex-wife. She insists on showing up at his apartment without phoning first. This happens at various times of the day and night. It also happens on weekends when John and I don't have the kids, so never can we assume we won't be interrupted at whatever. Another problem is that John doesn't want to hurt her feelings and can't bring himself to talk to her about this. I am furious, he is stalling, and she is selfish. Would you please provide some guidelines for him to use in approaching her?

A. Miss Manners would imagine that dropping in unexpectedly on one's ex-husband, who is now regularly entertaining another lady in his apartment would, eventually, carry its own solution. Although the last to wish any embarrassing encounters on any of you, she does think that a good surprise would take care of your problem.

Short of that, one may only use one of the two standard devices for discouraging drop-in visits by anyone, under any circumstances. The cowardly one is to refuse to answer the door. The courageous one is to open the door, politely inform the visitor that this is not a convenient time for a visit, and then nicely but firmly shut the door with the visitor on the other side of it.

This may only be done by the person whose house this is. If John will not do this, you cannot. But, you will understand, if you read Miss Manners' first paragraph carefully, that you may open the door wearing his bathrobe and say, "Here's Mary to see you, dear."