Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: "Mr. Eugene" has been my hairdresser for nearly 20 years. We have seen each other through divorces, deaths, recovery from alcoholism (me), and life struggles in general. Mr. Eugene used to be a great hairdresser. The problem began when he installed a little television set at his station. He keeps it on all the time and watches it almost constantly. He watches it while cutting my hair, pausing every so often to pay closer attention to what's on TV.

The quality of my haircuts has started to decline, and along with it, our client/hairdresser relationship. I'm about ready to change hairdressers because I can't find the nerve to reach over and turn the darn thing off or tell him how annoying it is, and how much better a hairdresser he is when he pays full attention to what he's doing.

Please print this so Mr. Eugene will read it and give his clients the attention we deserve. -- SPINELESS IN LEXINGTON, KY.

DEAR SPINELESS: Mr. Eugene is only a hairdresser. He is not a mind reader. Since you haven't voiced an objection to his cutting and styling your hair with one eye on the boob-tube, how can he be expected to know you have a problem with it?

Try this: Rather than criticize him, tell him that you would prefer that he leave the TV set off while working on you, because you miss the quality time you used to spend together. You might be surprised to find that he takes it as a compliment.

DEAR ABBY: I became engaged last Christmas. I have been planning my wedding with the help of my mother and my fiance's mother. I love them both, and they are helping to pay for my big day.

My problem is that every time I disagree with them, they call me "Bridezilla." I don't think I'm too demanding or hard to please. I just have ideas, tastes and expectations that may be different from my two mothers'.

This horrible stereotype is ruining the planning. I become devastated when they refer to me in that way, and end up giving in so I don't seem to be unreasonable.

Please help me. I am ending up with a wedding that isn't what I want. What should I do? -- NOT BRIDEZILLA IN L.A.

DEAR NOT BRIDEZILLA: It is wrong of your mother and your fiance's mother to call you names. However, since they are helping to fund the wedding, you can't blame them for wanting a meaningful voice in the planning. If you feel your dream wedding has been hijacked, then you should politely draw the line and finance it yourself.

DEAR ABBY: I am in a live-in relationship with a man I'll call Howard. Last year, I began quietly seeing "Adam." Howard found out about the affair a few months later, but didn't want us to break up.

I decided to stay with Howard even though I am in love with Adam, because I can't support myself on my own. After that, Adam decided it would be best if we stopped seeing each other. I know he's right, but I'd really like to talk to him. Right now, I'm agonizing over whether to call him.

When I ask my family or friends for advice, they say I should move on and get over Adam, because I'm only 21 and have my whole life ahead of me. The truth is, I can't let go so easily. It has been about four months since we last spoke. Should I call Adam, and if I do, what should I say? -- CLUELESS IN VEGAS

DEAR CLUELESS: Listen to your family and friends; they have your best interests at heart. In the meantime, I strongly recommend that you take a breather before going another round with anyone. Do not call Adam until you have left Howard and become self-supporting. That way, he will know you are not after him for a meal ticket, too.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600