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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am sitting here half-bald after a horrendous trip to two hairdressers. The first did such a terrible job that I was forced to go elsewhere to get my hairdo repaired.

I went to the first salon for a simple trim. Although I explained what I wanted and even showed a picture to the hairdresser, I had the uneasy feeling she didn't understand. At that point, however, my hair had already been washed and I felt as though I had no choice but to go through with the haircut.

When she was finished, I was left with a disaster on my head. My hair was much shorter than I'd requested, with two thin layers that didn't blend together. I looked ridiculous and the hairdresser knew it. She asked me if I wanted her to take a little more off the top to help blend the layers, but I quickly said no. She charged me $24, which I reluctantly paid. I then had to pay more money to correct the disaster on my head.

After hours of combing, curling and crying, I am turning to you for advice. Can you help me and others like me by answering: After getting a "bad vibe" from a stylist, is it socially acceptable to refuse service (even after he/she has washed your hair)? What is the best way to find out what a stylist's concept of an inch is? If you are dissatisfied with your haircut, can you refuse to pay for it? -- ALL CHOPPED UP AND NO PLACE TO GO

DEAR ALL CHOPPED UP: You have my sympathy. If it's any comfort, your experience is not that uncommon.

Clear communication is the key. You should discuss your expectations in advance, and make sure they are clearly understood before any work is done on your hair. If you are uneasy, you can leave at any time, even if your hair has already been shampooed. You should not have to pay for anything that is not satisfactory. Reputable salons will not insist that you do.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 50-year-old housewife. After 31 years of marriage, my husband suddenly asked me for a divorce.

Over the years he has given me some very nice pieces of jewelry. I don't want to sell any of it unless I really need the money. It has a lot of sentimental value. Besides, I have seven daughters, two daughters-in-law and several granddaughters whom I would like eventually to inherit my jewelry.

My quandary is this: I would like to continue wearing these pieces occasionally. I also want to continue to wear my wedding rings since, to my way of thinking, I am still bound by the marriage vows we took (twice).

Is there any etiquette governing my situation? -- WONDERING IN TEXAS

DEAR WONDERING: You may continue to wear all of your jewelry in any manner you wish. However, you are still a relatively young woman, and divorced women who entertain the idea of someday marrying again often have the stones from their wedding and engagement rings reset into another kind of ring, which they wear on their right hand.

You would be wise to specify which pieces of jewelry you would like each family member to have. I urge you to consult a lawyer and put it in writing.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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