O fashion gods, it appears that after a hiatus, you are sending the plague of the miniskirt to test me again, and I pray that I handle it better this time than I did in high school.

Give me the strength not to lurk in stairwells, or feign courtesy by opening car doors for women wearing hip-hugging hems. And please, shield my eyes from peering through Metro bus windows at exposed thighs in the cars below.

Bind my hands, O creators of little cloth, that I not yield to the temptation to touch, for my face no longer heals so fast when slapped.

I recognize that denial of fleshly pleasure is a sign of discipline. But to know that the thigh bone is connected to the hip bone and so forth is one thing; to see it is something else.

Turn my tongue to cotton, if you must, that I not howl like a dog on K Street during the noon hour. In my moments of weakness remind me how embarrassing it is to be caught staring at a woman's dress, to cause her to tug uncomfortably at her hemline or awkwardly cross her legs. May I not be tempted to drop pencils on the floor as a cover.

Turn my swivel chair to rust, that I not twirl each time exposed femura pass my desk. And punish me with a crook in the neck if I try to sneak a discreet rear view.

O fashion gods, I want to be among the first to thank you for striking down that female "dress for success" look, in which women showed up for work in suits, shirts and ties. Hell hath no fury like a man who can't tell Sodom from Gomorrah.

Yet, in going from one extreme to the other, I ask that my intellect be expanded that I may understand why a woman would say wearing a miniskirt makes her feel more like a woman yet not expect me to feel more like a man.

I believe that women have the right to wear anything they want, wherever they want, but help me understand why I am still supposed to look them in the eye.

In this age of the "new man," let it be known that just because a woman does not hear lewd and obscene utterances does not mean that men aren't thinking lewd and obscene thoughts. Let them know that the new man has not advanced so far as to place a woman's accomplishment above her physical endowments, and that we need all the help we can get to change that.

Nevertheless, thanks for raising the hemline gradually, instead of up to the hip all at once. You have kept a lot of men out of St. Elizabeths Hospital, maybe even the Lorton Reformatory. Yet I fear that what started as "fingertip" length in Paris, then went to the wrist in New York will be at the elbow by the time it gets to Washington.

At the Black Caucus "Midnight Fashion Show" last week, the micro-miniskirt was clearly the hottest item on the runway. Young, taut models were flaunting their natural assets while creating the illusion that any woman could look like them by merely purchasing, for a nominal fee (say, $500), a little piece of nothing.

"For women who care about clothes, it's all short," says designer Calvin Klein. "It makes young women feel sexy and women over 40 feel younger and look more modern." Besides, Klein adds, "The legs are the last thing to go."

But this is true only if you had good legs to start with.

Bless Nina Hyde, fashion expert extraordinaire, who at least is advocating opaque stockings "as an essential part of the new look because they hide varicose veins." Knobby knees are another matter.

As for myself, let me find contentment with the long skirt, with the long slit up the back, of course, that I may know the joy of imagination -- instead of the agony of a sexual harassment suit.

Last but not least, I ask that the resolve of those women who have found comfort and security in long hemlines be fortified. Remind them of the reasons that the miniskirt went out in the first place.

O fashion gods, remind them of me.