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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I'm sure you'll get a lot of mail about the letter from the man who was accused of sexual harassment after he commented that the bathing suit his child's instructor was wearing had become transparent.

I agree the father should have discussed the transparent suit with his wife or another woman for guidance. You are right; the woman would have nipped the "problem" immediately. However, as a former water safety instructor for the American Red Cross, and a former pool manager at the Piedmont Park Pool for several years (1983-86), I feel the need to comment.

Certified swimming instructors take their jobs seriously. If they do not, they should be dismissed. Their job is to teach water safety to children, adolescents and adults. Women and men learn at a young age which colors become transparent due to contact with water; it is safe to say that light-colored suits (white, tan and yellow) are inappropriate for lifeguards or swimming instructors.

All of that said, I blame the parents (today's society always blames the parents) for allowing their 17-year-old daughter to wear a transparent suit while teaching. Second, I blame her employer for not providing guidance -- a dress code -- as to what is acceptable swimwear. Young women on my staff knew to wear dark-colored suits. The suits had to be functional, not cut high at the legs or low at the chest. The uniform code helped to prevent distraction due to dress -- or lack of it. This would have saved the well-meaning parent, who happened to be male, embarrassment.

My advice to the father: Find another instructor for your daughter and another aquatic facility with a swimming program where safety is the No. 1 job description. -- LAURA E. DeMARS, ATLANTA

DEAR LAURA: You have written a sensible letter -- and believe me, I received fire and brimstone from readers who thought my answer was sexist for not taking the young woman to task. However, one letter in particular did not. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I would like you to know that the young swimming instructor was NOT wearing a transparent suit, but rather a Speedo one-piece. It is the type worn by almost all girls who take part in swimming competition or instruction. The "problem" was not the suit -- it was that she was cold. Even though the dad distorted the facts, he still didn't get the verification he was seeking. His actions were inappropriate and humiliating to the girl. In the future, he should pay attention to his daughter instead of the instructor. Thank you. -- PROUD UNCLE IN WISCONSIN


DEAR ABBY: My husband's late wife died of pancreatic cancer in 1987. We were married in 1989 and have enjoyed a wonderful life except for one thing: He carries two pictures of her in his wallet.

It's been gnawing at me. Should I just ignore it as I have for the past 11 years, or ask him to remove the pictures? I will do as you advise. -- JUST JULIE IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR JUST JULIE: Without anger or criticism, share your feelings with your husband. He may not have any idea how you feel. Tell him you respect his paying tribute to his deceased wife by carrying her photos, but that it would delight you to know he is also carrying pictures of you.

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