Advice on manners and morals.
Dec. 19 1998 3:30 AM

(Continued from Page 1)

Dear Prudence,

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Am I an idiot? I already know I am an idiot, but am I to be a happy idiot or a miserable one? Recently I went on a press junket to an Italian island, hosted by dull technologists. There, over two days, I fell in with another trapped journalist. In the way of such things, we now say we are in love. On the bright side, she is a beautiful, terrifyingly honest 24-year-old French girl. On the other hand, I am (problematically) 31, balding, British, and bitter.

My question: She wants to move out to California, where I live. I want her to move out. We know nothing about each other. What should I do?

--Eager To Be Told What I Want To Hear

Dear Eag,

Let her come. This must be Prudie's day to play Cupid, because like the chap who wrote the previous letter, you sound as though you have serendipitously found someone terrific. Take a chance. The worst scenario is that you will be dropped on your head; in which case you will pick yourself up and begin again--without having to wonder if you passed up the love of a lifetime.

And about the bitter business. Prudie assumes this refers to another woman situation. The fact that you acknowledge it, however, reveals a useful self-understanding. As for being balding, Prudie is surely not alone in finding that look attractive, even sexy. Once again, Prudie feels hunchy that the melding of très charmant and jolly good could work out brilliantly.

--Prudie, sighingly

Dear Prudence,

I put before you an etiquette quandary that I faced a few years ago and may face again. I was going regularly to a New York hair salon and getting my hair cut by the salon's owner. Was I supposed to tip him? Even a hefty $10 or $15 tip seemed a paltry thing to put in the hand of the owner of the salon. To me he was "the master," and tips only seemed appropriate in the case of employees. I therefore refrained from handing him a potentially demeaning tip but was still left with the feeling that I should do something.

After a few visits (and no clear advice from my usually sage friends) I resolved to give him a copy of a book I had written. As a personal gift with no measurable value, it seemed a better way to thank him than to price my gratitude at 10 bucks. I have moved from New York, but if I had stayed I am not sure what I would have given him next. What should one do in such a situation?

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