laplumeDear L. A. Plume,

I have recently moved to this area from a small town that was much more casual. I notice that women here even seem to dress up to go to the grocery store! I know the stories about women who clean their homes before the cleaning lady comes, which I must admit seems a bit ridiculous to me, but anyway . . . here’s what I need to know: Is it customary in this town to dress up with good make-up and jewelry before going to the hairdresser? I have an appointment at a new salon and I don’t want to start off making the wrong impression.

Dear Shirley,
First of all, where do you grocery shop? I’m going to put on my lipstick and pearls and run right over there because I’m assuming it isn’t Walmart! Beaufort is a casual town but, nevertheless, it’s the South. Women here generally like to look nice. I understand your question about going to get your hair done because you will be sitting in a chair dressed in a cape vaguely reminiscent of Batman, you will probably have goop on your hair and maybe on your eyebrows, and it’s difficult to look appealing under those circumstances. As a matter of fact, it can be downright impossible. The makeup usually gets rinsed off around the edges when your hair is washed and the result can leave you looking slightly owlish. However, when you are all finished and your hair is stunning, do you really want to look in the mirror and see that the rest of you doesn’t match? Toss your compact and lipstick in your purse along with your earrings and enjoy the experience; it should be one of total bliss.
L. A. Plume

Dear L. A.,
What is the correct etiquette for getting rid of our bumper crop of thigh-sized cucumbers? One of these puppies would make several gallons of cold soup, but who likes that much cucumber soup? (If it would make Scotch, we’d be in business . . . ) I have not even ever found a recipe for cucumber jelly. My husband has been going out in the dark of night leaving them on neighbors’ porches, but last night someone took a potshot at him and now he is chicken.
Miss Merry (But Over Cukes)

P.S. Hubby is the one who likes to grow them. Not I.

Dear Miss Merry,
Well, Merry, Merry quite contrary – have you done your research? The food network alone has 1054 recipes for cucumbers; and there is a recipe for cucumber jelly to accompany Atlantic Char Gravlax at There are quite a few popular uses for cucumbers that do not include eating them, among which are: rubbing a slice along your bathroom mirror to avoid fogging, putting some in a pie tin in your garden to eliminate pests, rubbing slices along your thighs or other areas that might have just the teensiest bit of cellulite to firm up the outer layer of skin, rubbing a freshly cut cucumber over your shoe for a quick shine that also repels water, or rubbing a slice on a squeaky hinge if you’re out of WD-40. Be creative. And next year tell him to plant zucchini, there are plenty of recipes for zucchini jelly.
L. A. Plume

Dear Ms. Plume,
Everywhere I go to listen to music, I see a tip jar by the band. Don’t they get paid to play? Under what circumstances, and how much, should they be tipped?

Dear Ernest,
Do you get paid to play? Okay – just kidding, but yes, bands generally do get paid to play, so do waiters get paid to wait, bartenders to tend, etc. I’m sure you get the picture. Rule of thumb – if you like their music, then put a dollar or two in the jar in appreciation, just as you would tip for any service you enjoyed; if you request a song, then tip between two and five dollars depending on the circumstance and your ability. In any event, everyone likes to be appreciated and even your loose pocket change is an acknowledgment.
L. A. Plume