We are fortunate enough to have a second home at the lakeside. Not surprisingly, we entertain a number of house guests all through the summer.

Our bedroom opens directly into the den where my husband's cousin was sleeping on the sofa bed during a recent weekend visit. He is about our age, early 30s.

I'm an early riser. On the morning in question, I emerged from our room and froze in my tracks. Our guest was flat on his back and fully displayed. His covers had evidently slipped off, leaving him au naturel.

I paused for a long moment, not knowing how to proceed. The internal debate went something like this: If I went over to cover him, he might wake up while I was doing so, resulting in a great deal of embarrassment for both of us. Even worse, he might wake up as I walked toward him.

If I passed through the room to the bathroom and on to the kitchen, he might be awakened by the sounds from either place. Then he'd be embarrassed, knowing I had been in the room while he was exposed. I also thought of going back into our room and making enough noise to rouse our guest before I opened the door.

Finally I decided to return to my room and go back to bed, to wait for our guest to wake up on his own.

The problem resolved itself an hour later, when I heard him moving about the den. After waiting a few minutes, I entered the den to find him fully dressed and in the process of folding up the sofa bed.

What about the future? May I be so bold as to ask our house guests to wear night clothes? If that is not allowed, how should I handle another scene like this? Do you think I did the right thing?

It seems to Miss Manners that you have given an awful lot of thought to what is essentially a non-problem.

Had you merely passed through the room while the gentleman was asleep, he would never have known when he had shed the covers, and therefore whether you had observed him.

The proper way to warn guests would be to say: "I'm afraid there isn't a much privacy in the den. I'm generally up early, and I have to pass through to get to the kitchen. I'll try to be very quiet and not wake you, but you might want to bear this in mind."

1987, United Feature Syndicate Inc.