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Tipping Points...Straight Talk...iPod Etiquette

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Q: I get my hair done at a trendy salon, and I’m happy and stylishly coiffed. But I wasn’t sure how much to tip the colorist, since he is also the owner. In the old days, owners didn’t accept tips, but I erred on the side of generosity and tipped him 20 percent. I figured he’d give it back if it was still the custom that he shouldn’t take it. (Okay, I can hear you laughing.) Anyway, does one tip the owner of a hair salon?
—COLOR ME RED, MIDTOWN

A: You would be able to hear me laughing if only I had not, when I first moved here, made the same mistake. With the money I’ve dropped on unnecessary tips, I could open my own salon (how difficult can it be to daub on a few highlights?) What with the hair washer, the blow-dryer, the stylist, and the now ever-present “assistant” (yes, Bumble and bumble, I’m talking about you), you can almost end up doubling the fee with tips (and yes, you are a skinflint if you don’t do 20 percent). But the one person you don’t have to tip is the owner, on the perfectly acceptable grounds that he or she takes a good chunk of everyone’s fee. But here’s a tip for you: Every second or third trip, tip the receptionist. No one else bothers, and should you call up needing an urgent appointment, you can consider it done.

Q: I’ve had plenty of sex with both men and women, but have reached a point where I’d like to settle down, get married, and have kids. I believe in honesty (as well as monogamy), but I have a hard time believing that many women would be up for marrying a guy they know has been with men. How honest about my past should I be with potential spouses?
—BI FOR NOW, PARK SLOPE

A: If you are truly committed to monogamy and an enduring partnership (with a person of either gender), you are going to have to be, well, straight with prospective mates. The word on the street is that a real relationship requires actually knowing each other, so any woman who is going to be intimate with you over a lifetime has to be able to deal with the fact that she’s married to a former pooftah. By the way, what’s with all the shame? First things first: Work out your own ambivalence with your past. Think David Bowie. Think Lou Reed. Being comfortable about who you are is considerably more attractive than being closeted and creepy.

Q: A co-worker recently saw me putting my iPod earplugs into my ears on the way out of our building and said excitedly that she, too, had just gotten an iPod. After the requisite exchange of raves about this wonderful device, she asked how many songs I had and then said, “Hey, could I borrow some of your songs?” Being an idiot, I reflexively said, “Oh, um, sure!” But look: I’ve got a massive CD collection, and I’ve painstakingly burned virtually all of my favorites. It was a lot of work. It’s my music—I paid for it. Am I right to be bent out of shape by the request?
—BEEN PLAYED, CHELSEA

A: Okay, borrowing a CD to listen to is one thing—but “borrowing” potentially 7,500 songs (the capacity of the top-of-the-line iPod) is another thing altogether. Unless you’re looking to sleep with this co-worker—or owe her some sort of insanely big favor—I can’t see why you should feel any obligation to go out of your way to help her engage in Grand Theft Audio. Besides, technically there’s no such thing as iPod-to-iPod sharing, or even iPod-to-Mac uploading (Apple specifically designed the thing to prevent wholesale song swapping, though actually there are ways to get around this restriction). If she brings it up again, you could be a pussy and mumble something about the technical limitations of the device. But you could also try being honest and admit that the idea of “lending” out your hard-won collection makes you really uncomfortable. Then laugh nervously. Place your ear-plugs in your ears. And crank “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

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