Dear Miss Manners: I am a 23-year-old single male. There is a woman at work who is very sweet - and she has a sweet name and sweet voice to go with it.

I am almost sure she doesn't have a boyfriend because when I asked her recently what she did over the weekend, she said she cleaned her room. Also, I am almost sure that she doesn't smoke or drink. (Neither do I.)I would like to ask her out on a date, spend the rest of my life with her and have a family with her. But I don't know how to ask her out on a date, as I have never had a girlfriend. Someone at work told me it is not a good idea to date a person from work, but I like her so much!

I talk to her every day at work, but not face to face. (She works on the help line.) I feel if I don't ask her out, I will never find another person as pretty and sweet. I know my parents would accept her, since they frequently ask me if I have any girlfriends, and the response has always been no.

This person is so down-to-earth, I think we would make a great couple. Could you please advise me on what to do?

Gentle Reader: Well, young gentleman, the first thing to do is get a grip on yourself.

Charmed as Miss Manners is by your outpouring, it certainly does reinforce your admission that you do not know how to ask a lady out on a date.

This sweet young thing, with her sweet name and sweet voice, may believe in true love at first sight and dream that a nice young man like you will come along and sweep her off her feet. Nevertheless, if you let on that although you know nothing much about her, you would like to have a family with her, she will scream and run. Or haul off and smack you. Or report you to your supervisor. Sweet young things have to protect themselves.

You should listen to the person who told you that it is not a good idea to date at work.

No, wait! Do not despair. Miss Manners only said that you should listen, not that you should give up hope of ever dating this young lady. Although your informant is right, Miss Manners is soft-hearted enough to hope that this will be the exceptional romance that will turn out to be more important than the job.

Fortunately for you, the approaches to courtships and work-related camaraderie are similar. You need to make friends with this young lady, steering your casual conversations to discover her interests. Oddly enough, it is more flattering for a lady to have a casual acquaintance pounce on her opinions than on the idea of making her the smoke-free mother of his children.

So you need to pay attention to whether or not she encourages you before you propose - no, not marriage, but a cup of coffee that, if successful, might lead to a date. Without encouragement, you risk being a pest - which may be bad for the job but is certain death for romance.

Dear Miss Manners: I have a Ph.D. in astrophysics. Once in a while, I like to introduce myself as "Dr. Jones." My wife has lately informed me, however, that society reserves the title of "doctor" only for medical professionals, not Ph.D.s. Is she correct?

Should I avoid introducing myself as "doctor" so as not to give the false impression that I am an MD?

Gentle Reader: No, you should avoid introducing yourself as "doctor" to avoid giving the impression that you are a pompous fool.

Your wife is correct that, traditionally, the medical title is the only one used socially. Miss Manners' point is that it is socially pompous to use any title in regard to oneself.