Don’t be rude.

A while back, I headlined an entry here “Dear Mrs. Manners.” Since then, thanks to Google and those who forget that the real Manners dame calls herself “miss,” I’ve been getting a series of puzzling e-mails from people asking etiquette questions. Some of them are in the comments, if you’d like to click through that link. Others are e-mailed, and I try to answer them. I figure the essence of good manners is simply the ability to put oneself in the shoes of another, so what the hell? I get lost when you get into the when-to-wear-a-morning-coat question, or are-engraved-invitations-too-much-for-a-casual-second-wedding business, but I’ll take a crack at them.

So, today, another arrived. Pink font, smiley emoticon, the works. It wondered how much you should tip your hairdresser. It was signed “Jennifer Bastion” and the inside joke will perhaps only be appreciated by those who were KW Fellows with me. Our number included a woman with a very similar name who, I can state with confidence, doesn’t use pink fonts or smiley emoticons in her correspondence, and probably doesn’t give a rat’s ass about hairdresser-tipping etiquette. For a moment there, I thought I’d stepped into a parallel universe, where she was perhaps Miss America, and I was Peggy Fleming or something.

Anyway, of course I answered. I suggested 10 percent, with more at the holidays or with yeoman’s service. Why do we have to tip hairdressers, anyway? What do they do that deserves tippage? Someone let me know, please.

So, bloggage:

For a long time now, I’ve believed the right wing is in its Caligula phase — pure decadence, lighting seegars with C-notes, using phrases like “reality-based community.” William Bennett repackages public-domain fairy tales, adds an introduction about the “moral lessons” we learn from them, and hits the bestseller list — while incidentally gambling compulsively. Rush Limbaugh divorces wife numero tres after he kicks a drug habit — and he’s defended, because he had “back pain” and it’s not like he was taking heroin, for God’s sake. And of course Ann Coulter. I read just the lists of people who have books out, and I think, will these people buy anything? Evidence suggests so. So I’m glad Richard Cohen feels the same way:

Edward Klein has written one hell of an expos�. His new book on Hillary Clinton, “The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She’ll Go to Become President,” insinuates epic mendacities, sapphic sex, fiscal improprieties and marital rape. All of that Klein documents either vaguely or not at all and is so beyond belief and good taste that the very fact his book is selling like proverbial hotcakes starkly exposes the anti-Clinton people as the village idiots of our time. It takes one to buy this book.

…His book is flying off the shelves — more than 350,000 shipped. The other day it was No. 4 on Amazon’s bestseller list and was sold out at my sedate neighborhood bookstore when I checked. It has become a Rorschach of conservative madness — proof that they will buy anything, no matter how badly done, that attacks the Clintons or liberalism. Klein’s book is just the most recent example. He looked at conservatives the way P.T. Barnum looked over his audience: “There’s a sucker born every minute,” Barnum said. Ed is nodding all the way to the bank.


I had the same reaction when I read about the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s super-secret monitoring of Bill Moyers for liberal bias. Jon Carroll had a better, less expensive idea: Why not ask him?

A mean but amusing piece in the Nation underlines the point, while visiting the College Republicans convention: By the time I encountered Cory Bray, a towering senior from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, the beer was flowing freely. “The people opposed to the war aren’t putting their asses on the line,” Bray boomed from beside the bar. Then why isn’t he putting his ass on the line? “I’m not putting my ass on the line because I had the opportunity to go to the number-one business school in the country,” he declared, his voice rising in defensive anger, “and I wasn’t going to pass that up.”

And besides, being a College Republican is so much more fun than counterinsurgency warfare. Bray recounted the pride he and his buddies had felt walking through the center of campus last fall waving a giant American flag, wearing cowboy boots and hats with the letters B-U-S-H painted on their bare chests. “We’re the big guys,” he said. “We’re the ones who stand up for what we believe in. The College Democrats just sit around talking about how much they hate Bush. We actually do shit.”

Yes, the College Republicans do shit. My ex-newspaper ran a story a couple years ago about how the College Republicans targeted an old lady in Fort Wayne, sending her daily fundraising letters warning that liberals were about to take over Washington, so please please please send more money! She sent tens of thousands of dollars — she had senile dementia, by the way — and they pleaded for more. The letters redefined shamelessness. Other papers found other cases around the country. The Nation story alludes to it briefly:

CRNC front-runner and University of South Dakota senior Paul Gourley was at the center of a controversial fundraising scheme. During the height of last year’s campaign, a firm hired by the CRNC sent repeated solicitation letters printed on “Republican Headquarters 2004” letterhead to elderly Republicans, some of whom suffered from dementia. The letter urged recipients to pray over an American flag lapel pin, then send it back–along with $1,000–so George W. Bush could wear it during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. The solicitation was signed by “Paul Gourley, National Director.” Though Gourley denied knowledge of the letter’s content until it was published, it cast a cloud over his candidacy.

Although he did win the election. Hmm.

Read more about the College Republicans here.

Posted at 9:14 am in Uncategorized |

17 responses to “Don’t be rude.”

  1. mary said on June 29, 2005 at 10:33 am

    Slate gave a few highlights of Ed Klein’s book last week. One that struck me was a statement about Hillary having low self esteem in college, evidenced by the fact she stopped shaving her legs and underarms. I was in college in the seventies, and lots of women stopped shaving. It wasn’t about low self esteem. It was about feminism or hippieism or being “natural.” I guess Ed didn’t date hippies or feminists.

    414 chars

  2. 4dbirds said on June 29, 2005 at 10:36 am

    Ya, these “I’m too busy to serve” warmongers who don’t serve slay me. I’m a bleeding heart liberal and I served in the army for 20 years because I love this country.

    As for tipping, it has gotten way out of hand. There are tip jars everywhere. I want to know why after spending 4 bucks for a coffee, I’m expected to throw the change from my 5 in the tip jar?

    366 chars

  3. mary said on June 29, 2005 at 10:41 am

    Mr. Bray (what a perfect name) sounds like our VP. Dick Cheney said he didn’t serve in Vietnam because he had “other priorities.”

    130 chars

  4. Ralph said on June 29, 2005 at 11:08 am

    I’ve always wondered: are we supposed to tip the beer drive-thru guy?

    69 chars

  5. Michael G said on June 29, 2005 at 11:55 am

    The thing about the chicken hawks and junior chicken hawks that boggles my mind is that they are totally without shame or sense of irony. And yes, I did my time in the ‘Nam — twice.

    185 chars

  6. juan said on June 29, 2005 at 12:17 pm

    You may be missing the point of the Ed Klein book. It’s not a smear piece, it’s an orchestrated campaign strategy by Hils herself.

    C’mon! This is a page right out of the Scientologist handbook! The Scientologists call in to radio shows and log into blogs to spew crazy, over-the-top stuff to create plausible deniability and distract from the ACTUAL crazy, over-the-top stuff like Xenu the evil alien being held in a secret mountain fortress.


    1. Ed Klien knows better than to print this kind of slander without real sources. The guy worked for NEWSDAY!

    2. If it really was a “swiftboat” smear piece, it would have been released in the last days of her presidential campaign, not three years before it starts!

    3. Mrs. “Right Wing Conspiracy” is leaking the skeletons mixed in with plenty of B.S. to make sure both play-out before her campaign begins.

    4. Ed used to be a Clinton buddy. Now he’s a foe?


    I’m no braniac, but this is pretty transparent.

    994 chars

  7. ashley said on June 29, 2005 at 12:20 pm

    The comments by the veterans on this post reminds me of the conversation between Tony and Reverend Jim on Taxi:

    Tony: “Well, I served in Vietnam, what do you have to say about that?”

    Reverend Jim: “Thanks!”

    212 chars

  8. ashley said on June 29, 2005 at 12:32 pm

    “I’m no braniac..”

    No, you’re not.

    37 chars

  9. mary said on June 29, 2005 at 1:18 pm


    I agree. Some of us who are old enough to remember that time clearly, who had friends who were either trying not to be drafted or were drafted, or killed find all this very hard to take. Did I dream that whole time? Could one just choose to serve in the Texas Air National Guard rather than get drafted, and then ask to be sent to Vietnam but NOT get sent? That’s what W says he did.

    My brother got drafted right after he finished grad school and shipped out of Fort Lewis not long after. I’m sure he had other priorities. I’m sure he would have preferred to spend that time in Texas flying jets on weekends to slogging around and getting foot rot. Where is this weird shameless disconnect coming from?

    718 chars

  10. harry near indy said on June 29, 2005 at 1:38 pm


    regarding the weird shameless disconnect …

    your *fellow* citizens are so turned off by politics that they’ll let this shit slide.

    143 chars

  11. Connie said on June 29, 2005 at 2:07 pm

    You only tip the hair dresser if she/he is not the owner. For what that’s worth.

    81 chars

  12. mary said on June 29, 2005 at 4:13 pm


    Turned off or distracted? I don’t get my news from TV, but if I did, I would know a lot more about the runaway bride, Michael Jackson, and Terri Schiavo’s autopsy than I care to. Last night on the Daily Show, Jon Stewart showed a clip of some government flack saying that the reason Bush’s approval ratings are dropping is that the news has been covering the Jackson trial, not the president. It’s not because people are sick of this stupid war, nah. It’s the michael jackson trial.

    493 chars

  13. ellen said on June 29, 2005 at 5:08 pm

    I tip my hairdresser about 15 percent. Depending on where you go, the hairdresser may be renting the work station and use of the salon facilities from the salon owner. My friend pays $1,400 a month for her space in a salon. (I have no idea if that figure is high or low.) She receives no benefits and is essentially self-employed and simply leasing a work space. She can work as many or as few hours as she is willing to book clients.

    434 chars

  14. poochlover said on June 29, 2005 at 9:53 pm

    I think 15% is the norm around here (Cincinnati area). My mom always said you weren’t to tip if you went to the owner, but I always have and they seem appreciative.

    165 chars

  15. juan said on June 30, 2005 at 10:57 am


    Just brilliant. I can’t come back from a pithy little ad hominem knee-capping like that.

    I am but a pawn of your towering intellect and intellectual maturity.

    Glad to see Air America has sharpened your rhetorical skills to such a fine point that you can now frame logic fallacies in three words or less. (I mean, HELL! Even Franken can’t craft an ad hom book title in less than FIVE! Nicely done!)

    …or, at the very least, it has encouraged you to eschew debate all together and just embrace your inner-douchebag.

    Gratz Duuuuuuude!

    555 chars

  16. James Kabala said on June 30, 2005 at 11:41 pm

    In the real world, of course, as opposed to liberal fantasyland, National Review, Bill O’Reilly, and just about all reputable or semi-reputable conservatives have distanced themselves the book. Those who have bought it are probably gossip-lovers of all political persuasions, not just conservative.

    299 chars

  17. Anne Laurie said on July 5, 2005 at 5:13 pm

    Nance, you tip the hairdresser because one wants to stay in the good graces of anyone who’s capable of making one walk around with a bag over one’s head for six weeks…

    Abstractly, it’s because hairdressers are “servants” under the shop owner, and those who provide personal service have traditionally been tipped to make up for being underpaid. But since we tip cabbies, and don’t tip mechanics, I think at some level it’s an unconscious (mostly) way of encouraging certain people to like us a little better, and therefore give us a little extra attention. Or at least not give us a mullet while our attention is distracted…

    The tip jar at Starbucks, et al seems to be a separate issue to me — possibly because the worse the service behind the counter, the more giving up my change is “encouraged” by the offenders. There’s definitely a generational change around here; those over 25 don’t push the tip jar in retail environments, those under 25 are insulted if you don’t “contribute”. Perhaps it’s related to the rise of everybody-wins-something Self Esteem school theory? One could argue that these kids have been trained to believe that doing the most basic job “entitles” them to a gold star, a smiley-face eraser, or a customer’s spare change.

    1266 chars