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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My hairdresser (whom I have patronized for 14 years) recently started a conversation about tipping. It began with his telling me how much his previous customer had tipped him. It was a very large amount. Then he started talking about how cheap some people are and how little they tip. He said he wouldn't put himself out for people who don't tip him appropriately.

The conversation left me feeling uncomfortable and I ended up tipping him more than I would usually tip, which, of course, made me angry.

Abby, do you think this was an appropriate conversation for a hairdresser to have with a client? I would also be interested in hearing what your readers think is an appropriate amount to tip. Please don't use my name or location. Thank you for your help. -- CURIOUS

DEAR CURIOUS: According to Letitia Baldrige's "The New Manners for the '90s" (Rawson Associates, N.Y.):

"At an expensive, posh place, you would tip:

"20 percent of the total bill to your hairdresser if you're having a cut or color or perm; 15 percent of the total bill if you are just having a wash and set or a wash and blow-dry.

"$2 to the shampoo person.

"$2 minimum or 15 percent of the cost of the manicure to the manicurist.

"At a modest establishment, you would tip:

"10 percent of the bill to the hairdresser.

"$1 to the shampoo person (if your hairdresser and shampoo person are one and the same, $1 more for the shampoo).

"$1 to $2 to the manicurist."

For a hairdresser to tell a client how much (or little) the previous customer tipped is inexcusable -- and also stupid. If you like him, give him this "tip" from me: NEVER discuss how much (or little) other clients tip.

DEAR ABBY: Have you considered a book of the many "How We Met" stories your readers have sent you?

I particularly love how Cupid arranges for people to get together! I have clipped items whenever you have printed them -- they are uplifting, each with an element of unsuspected chance.

If you already have such a book, please let me know. I would love to buy it. -- KAREN DREW, RUSSELLVILLE, ALA.

DEAR KAREN: I do not have such a book, and at this time I haven't the time to compile one. However, your idea is a good one, and one which I'm sure would make several interesting columns. So, Dear Readers, if you met your mate in an unusual way, please let me know.

DEAR ABBY: You published a letter last winter that keeps popping up in my mind. It was signed "His Wife." The writer was complaining that her good-looking, well-educated, clean, "good daddy," wonderful husband wanted to help around the house -- but what he did wasn't up to her standards.

Please ask her to send him to me. I'll trade him for my good-looking, well-educated, clean, sometimes "good daddy," who is also a mean, bad-tempered, abusive, name-calling, complaining and usually absent husband. I promise he will never get in her way or do things wrong, because he'll never lift a finger to do anything in the house.

I will love and appreciate her husband, the dingy clothes he washes, the undercooked/overcooked meals he prepares, and most of all, his presence. -- EAGER TO SWITCH IN OHIO

DEAR EAGER: I'm willing to wager that when "His Wife" sees your letter, she'll hang on to the husband she has. Yours sounds like a doozy.

(Everybody has a problem. What's yours? Get it off your chest by writing to Dear Abby, P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069. For a personal reply, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.)

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