DEAR MISS MANNERS: We were finishing a late lunch in a casual restaurant when an arriving couple chose a nearby table. As the woman of the pair (a diminutive sort) was clambering up onto the tall barstool-style chair that was offered, her loose-fitting khaki shorts slipped severely when she scooted onto the seat.
With her back to us, the resulting view plainly suggested the lyrics to "Shine On Harvest Moon," an effect only heightened by the fact that this diminutive woman was wearing an equally diminutive string-style thong.
In the days of more modest fashion, a gentleman's discreet, "Pardon, your slip is showing" was considered an appropriate hint that a lady's garment was amiss. In this circumstance, however, we were at a loss for any polite way to indicate to this obviously oblivious woman that she was suffering from extreme southern exposure.
Since the restaurant was otherwise empty, and not wanting to embarrass her further (a near impossibility in this instance, ironically), we chose discretion and left with the hope she would quietly discover and correct the situation herself.
But what would be the proper thing to do, in this instance, from across a crowded room? Would our waiter have been an appropriate intermediary?
GENTLE READER: Your waitress might have been, but then she would only put the same question to Miss Manners about what she should say, and you already have the answer.
"Pardon, your slip is showing" is still exactly the right thing to say, as you will realize if you try updating the remark to fit the actual situation. And by the way, Miss Manners congratulates you on not hanging around.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: With all the recent troubles in the economy, I have a number of friends who are unemployed, some for a great deal of time. I also have friends who are still very successfully employed, even supervising large numbers of people and in a position to influence hiring.
I am often being asked by friends seeking employment to mention this fact to friends who might be in a position to hire.
I'm always happy to help, but I get a very funny feeling about going to have lunch with a friend and then listing a few people who've asked me to mention they're looking for work. On the other hand, I'm told that this is basic networking, and it's perfectly acceptable to do on a friend's behalf. So, I'm not sure which way to dodge. Am I being foolish to worry about this? What's the best way to be helpful to my friends?
GENTLE READER: Second-hand networking is actually a great deal more tactful than the first-hand kind, where the candidate and the target are both bound to be embarrassed if it turns out not to be a good match.
All you need do is to alert your hiring friends that you know some good people in case they are looking, and let them take it up or drop it. Miss Manners only cautions you not to mislead either side -- the prospective employer by claiming merits for which you cannot vouch, or the prospective employees by predicting success for which you cannot vouch. Although this is really a matter of ethics, it would create etiquette problems.