Dear Miss Manners:

I am a middle-aged man who enjoys wearing women's clothing. I have always restricted this behavior to the privacy of my apartment, but now I have a wonderful opportunity to venture out in public while cross-dressed.

A sympathetic female friend has graciously invited me to dress as a woman and accompany her to New York City for a weekend of museum visits, theater-going, gourmet dining and shopping. She believes my appearance and demeanor are sufficiently ladylike to avoid ticklish situations.

I have selected a subdued wardrobe characterized by modest hemlines, medium heels and demure makeup. I have no desire to draw attention to myself and I will endeavor to be as inconspicuous as possible.

Despite these precautions, some people may discern that I am a man in women's clothing. While I am prepared to accept any opprobrium that may ensue, I am worried that it may be impolite to impose--however tastefully--my uncommon sartorial tastes on an unwitting public. Please be so kind as to benefit me with your thoughts on this matter.

Miss Manners has more faith than you do in the sophistication of New Yorkers. While it may be true that they have rarely observed anyone of ladylike appearance and demeanor whose sartorial taste runs to the subdued, modest and demure, she believes they can be trusted to absorb the shock. She wishes you a pleasant holiday.

Dear Miss Manners:

My husband is a pastor, and occasionally we are invited as a family to dinner at a church member's home. We never have them over in return, in part because the seminary professors made such a point of having no special friends and spending equal time with all members--if you had one party over, you must have each party in the congregation over.

As we have a house built for two and there are many more in our family, it is so difficult to have our home life and household on display among the crowd. I'm trying to let the children have hobbies, crafts and pets, and not live in a display case.

My husband grew up in a parsonage and is a very poor host. He does not help to prepare for guests and does not interact when the children's friends or people come by. He is charming while on duty at church, but is totally "off" at home--and I don't know how to handle it.

Miss Manners recommends that you read 19th-century novels. Not only would they provide a respite from all those parishioners and pets, but they will reassure you that a visit from the parson is more ceremonial than social, and thus does not require reciprocal hospitality.

You may be less delighted at the excuse they will provide your husband. Miss Manners is afraid they provide many examples of clergymen who retire to their studies, free of housework and other family obligations, in order to devote mind and soul to wrestling with theological questions.

So in your husband's case, Miss Manners recommends reading biographies of his 19th-century colleagues. He may then decide that he does not want to remain as ignorant of what his children are up to in his absence as were the good Reverends Austen and Bronte.

Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper. {copy} 1999, Judith Martin