The Washington charity auction season is almost coming to an end. Each group tries to outdo the other with exotic items like a week in Paris, tickets to the Redskins, romantic candlelight dinners and the usual stuff. The auction Saturday night at Georgetown Prep may have come up with the ultimate ego-gratification item -- an opportunity to have a road on the school's campus named for the winning buyer for a whole year. Why, that's immortality of a sort . . .

Opera impresario Sarah Caldwell, recovered from a serious bout with double pneumonia, is back at work at the Opera Company of Boston. The portly conductor, who had been in intensive care in January and is on a 600-calories-a-day diet, said, "I intend to be the thinnest lady conductor, at least in Boston" . . .

We should have known it was too good to be true: crimson-haired zany pop star Cyndi Lauper at the socially correct black-tie Cancer Ball at the Washington Hilton. A spokesman for the event has said it was 99 percent certain she'd be there, but Lauper's business manager said yesterday she unfortunately has another commitment. She's one of the national spokespersons for multiple sclerosis . . .

A summer note of etiquette for all those Washingtonians who might find themselves on a topless beach somewhere. There are unwritten rules of behavior. According to the May issue of Gentleman's Quarterly magazine: a topless woman should neither flirt nor show "any hint of embarrassment or modesty." The man talking to the topless woman must "take care to talk to her eyes." And the man shouldn't get the wrong idea since it is after all, only beach time . . .