December 26, 2009 | 2:00
Tipping Tip: Don't Forget Your Barber
As we approach the turn of a new decade, the soundest advice I can offer you for a long, full life is never lie to your doctor or your lawyer.
And above all, never stiff your barber at Christmastime.
They are hypersensitive, sentimental souls with long memories, razor-sharp razors and a lust of revenge.
At least, Maury Mandell is.
He's the boys' beautician at Rothchild's, and trims such noteworthy scalps as Tony Martin's, Brod Crawford's, Gig Young's and Tony Curtis'.
But Maury's biggest spender had always been the shoe king, Harry Karl. He hands his barber a holiday tip that approximates what most people hand out for a down payment on a house.
And since Maury usually spends it in advance, he waits all year for Karl's Christmas visit.
A year ago, Karl left town shortly before the holidays. He was off on an extended European jaunt and didn't return for six months.
Early in June, he walked into the barbershop and up to his customary chair.
With a flourish, Maury whipped the sheet across the customer's midriff, nodded to him, and cried jovially:
"Merry Christmas, Mr. Karl."
I neglected to tell you, didn't I, about the American pilot who was on aircraft duty in the Pacific during World War II?
Without a doubt, he was the most ineffective flier on the carrier. He could never get his plane off the deck, or back on, without a near accident. His guns and equipment were never properly checked before take-off. And he couldn't seem to keep in formation on a mission.
Finally, his commander called him aside,
"You haven't done anything right since you joined up," he said bitterly. "You're a detriment to the entire service.
"One more mistake," he added, waving a warning finger, "just one more, and I'm going to have you grounded."
Prays He'll Do Right
That night, the pilot went to his quarters and said an urgent prayer. "Just once," he pleaded, "let me do everything right."
The following morning, he woke up feeling vastly reassured. He made a perfect take-off from the deck. His guns had been checked and all were in excellent working order. He stayed right in the flight plan until the enemy planes broke the formation.
But even then, he was responsible for shooting down three Japanese planes.
Then he sighted the carrier, swooped down, made a perfect landing, jumped out and saluted smartly.
"Well, sir," he said proudly, "how about that? I didn't do anything wrong."
The officer looked up at him, smiled, bowed low and replied:
"Ah so. Just one r'itta mistake."