I’ve gone to the same barber for 25 years. We schmooze as he cuts what little hair I have left, thanks to male-pattern baldness. But when I visited my dad on the West Coast, I went to a different barber and realized I never really liked the way my barber cut my hair. It’s not practical to fly cross-country for haircuts, and my barber calls if I miss a month — which makes me feel guilty, so I go back to him. I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but I deserve a haircut I like. What should I do?
Just how many quarter-century pals do you have up there in Hartford? I’m not exactly swimming in them down here. Though curiously, one of them is my excellent haircutter. We know just enough about each other, but never a word too much. I’d hate for you to toss that aside without a proper send-off.
One option is teaching your old barber a new snip. Take a few smartphone snaps of yourself after one of your glorious West Coast haircuts and show your barber what you’d like. Don’t worry about seeming vain or weird. We go to these guys to make us look better, do we not?
If that’s not your style, or you don’t think he’s up to it (though how hard can it be to cut a bald man’s hair?), or you simply want a change, walk into his shop, shake his hand, give him a great bottle of something or other, and thank him for one of the longest-running shows in town. Explain that you’ve found someone closer to home or the office, but you won’t soon forget his excellent company.
It may be awkward for a minute, but you’ll feel better about yourself — and so will he. And after 25 years of easy camaraderie, you both deserve as much.
Last month, an old friend invited me to spend Easter weekend with her family. I accepted. We’ve spent many Easters together, and have our traditions: coloring eggs with the children, cooking special meals together, organizing Easter egg hunts. I always have a great time. Yesterday, I received a long letter from her telling me about a trip she had booked for her family to Paris over Easter. She didn’t mention my visit. Obviously, I’m out of the picture. What should I do?
Anonymous, Northport, N.Y.
Unless your pal is a real Perle Mesta (an old-time party animal, for the youngsters out there, sort of like an upscale Kardashian), I doubt she simply forgot about inviting you. No, she laid out her vacation plans in a letter, a tad more distancing than a phone call, in the likely hope that she might slink off to Charles de Gaulle Airport and avoid wriggling out of her previous invitation directly.
Don’t go along with her! This is the way petty resentments take root and flourish like mauvaises herbes (a k a French weeds). Be the bigger person while you’re at it. Call and say: “Your trip sounds marvelous. I’m sorry you won’t be able to make good on your Easter invitation, but we’ll do it another year.”
Then try to let this go. It sounds as if she’s been a generous hostess in the past, and you still have a few weeks to plan your own Easter egg hunt. Your local pals will probably love it.
After reconnecting at a college reunion, my husband and some buddies organized a “getting to know you again” ski trip. He’s really looking forward to it. But one of the guys has asked if he can stay in a separate condo. We suspect he wants to bring a woman he’s started dating. My husband is irked because no one else is bringing a significant other. Should he go with the flow, or tell this guy it’s an all-male trip?
J. C., St. Paul
Why assume so much? Hubby should call his college pal and say: “You’re welcome to stay in a separate condo, but no one else is bringing a date. Are you?” If he is, let him know that a lone gal might make group meals and other activities a bit awkward at the old-time bro-fest.
But never underestimate the relative pull of reconnecting with old cronies versus making love to new women. If the bachelor persists, let it go. I’ll bet the trip still works out fine.
Save Your Cellar
My friends invite me to dinner parties at their place. The wine they serve is not bad, but not great, either. I bring a few killer bottles for the group. Trouble is, they never serve them. Can I say anything to get them to open my wine instead?
Time to revise some of Stephen Stills’s greatest lyrics: If you can’t be with the wine you love, honey, love the wine you’re with. Your gifts are generous. Feel free to uncork as many gorgeous bottles as you like at your own dinners. But better to let your hosts take charge of the vino at theirs.
For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com or SocialQ on Facebook. You can also address your queries on Twitter to @SocialQPhilip. Include a daytime phone number.
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