I sent flowers on St. Valentine's Day to someone I care a great deal for, who seemed so surprised. Later on, however, I found out that my gesture of caring had been overshadowed by hurt and betrayal. A third party was upset at being mistakenly thanked for sending the flowers.

I meant no harm. I only wanted to make sure that someone felt cared about. I didn't sign my name to the card because I guess I wasn't really sure how the person would feel about the flowers coming from me.I'm really shy. I think the person knows now who actually sent the flowers, but that person acts really evasive with me.

Was I out of line to be thoughtful? We may not always have the courage to admit we did something, no matter how well-intentioned the act was.

GENTLE READER - There, there. Miss Manners loves you.

That, she realizes, is hardly what you had in mind.

What you did have in mind - making the person you care for feel cared about - worked.

What you really had in mind - making that person care about you - didn't.

Miss Manners is sorry about that. If etiquette had a formula guaranteed to produce love, she would be tempted to go out marketing it instead of spending her days pleading with people not to snap at one another.

The closest such secret is charm. You have practiced that, and while it didn't work this time, it may the next. It could even work eventually in this case. You have been the cause of this person's finding out that a favored prospect had no such charming intentions, while you did.

DEAR MISS MANNERS - Please advise if there are guidelines regarding reading while occupying the bathroom.

GENTLE READER - Well, let's see. Miss Manners hadn't thought about it, but there must be some.

Don't drop a library book into the bathtub.

Don't go off with the section of a newspaper that contains continuations of the stories in a section that someone else is still reading.

Don't pretend to be so engrossed that you can't hear another member of the household delicately inquiring whether you are going to be in there all day.

Don't use dental floss as a bookmark if anyone else is ever going to read the book.

DEAR MISS MANNERS - My son insists that it is never correct to eat the garnish, such as fruit slices (specifically orange slices) that sometimes decorate dinner plates or drinks in restaurants.

I believe that if you wish to eat the garnish, you may do so, and on occasion I do. This causes great consternation on the part of my son, who claims to be "grossed out" by my actions. We have agreed to abide by your decision in this matter.

GENTLE READER - You win. As your son was obviously not brought up with this odd notion, you must wonder where he picked it up. Well, it wasn't from Miss Manners.

Short of munching on the centerpiece carnations or the ice sculpture, one may safely consume anything edible put in front of one, provided one does it gracefully.

If an orange slice is served on a duck, for example, one can cut the fruit free and eat it easily. The orange slice on the side of a drink may be daintily eaten by hand.