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DEAR ABBY: I have a terrific hairdresser I'll call "Jordy." He owns the salon I have patronized for more than 20 years. His work is outstanding, and I always get compliments about my hair. However, because of his latest price increases and my being on a fixed income, I can no longer afford his services.

In years past, the price would increase a couple of dollars. But this year, Jordy increased it 10 percent. I make appointments six months in advance because it's easier to plan around a set appointment than vice versa.

My dilemma: How should I go about canceling my four appointments? Should I write Jordy a letter? What should I say? We have become quite good friends over the years, and I hate to leave, but my limited income can be stretched only so far. -- HAIR-RAISED IN KENTUCKY

DEAR HAIR-RAISED: In light of your long-standing relationship, you should tell Jordy exactly what you have told me. If that is too embarrassing, write him a letter. Tell him that although you are very fond of him, because you are now on a fixed income, with the latest price hike you can no longer afford to be his client. Consider asking him to recommend a less expensive shop and a hairdresser who can keep you as well-coiffed as ever.

It's possible that Jordy's expenses have increased dramatically, or he may have become so popular he's reducing his client list. Whatever the reason, his response will help you get to the "root" of his price increase.

P.S. He may offer you a reduced rate, given your long association.

DEAR ABBY: Five years ago, my family and I attended a friend's party. I'll call her "Vanetta." My son, "Paul," was a young teenager. We didn't know at the time that he had fallen in with a bad crowd and was using drugs. The day after the party, Vanetta called and said a portable radio had been stolen from her home and implied that it was taken by one of the kids who had attended. I questioned Paul; he denied knowing anything about it.

My son is now a young adult and, thankfully, has stopped using drugs. He recently admitted to me that he and another teenage boy had stolen the radio and sold it. In spite of this, I know Paul is a good person who has made some bad choices. I asked him if he would go to Vanetta, confess and reimburse her for it. He said he was too "embarrassed."

Abby, Vanetta tends to be judgmental and would most likely respond to Paul in a condemning way. I'm not defending my son's behavior, but Vanetta has never had children and does not understand the peer pressures young people face today.

Should I encourage Paul to go to Vanetta and make amends, or let it stay in the past and be forgotten? -- ANONYMOUS MOM IN A SMALL TOWN

DEAR ANONYMOUS MOM: Encourage your son to speak to Vanetta and, with cash in hand, explain to her that he was young, was stupidly experimenting with drugs, is profoundly sorry for what he did, and hopes that she will understand and accept his apology.

Let's hope Vanetta will find it in her heart to forgive him, but even if she doesn't, your son's conscience will be clear, and he can put this sad chapter in his life behind him.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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