What should I say to criticism of my haircut?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: An acquaintance at my gym stopped me and said, “Oh, I do wish you hadn’t had your hair cut!”

Not having heard her well, I said, “I’m sorry?” She repeated it. “Excuse me?” I then said, to indicate offense. Thinking I still hadn’t heard her, she repeated it once more. “I’m not quite sure how to respond to that,” I replied.

She then waxed poetic about how beautiful my hair had been and how she loved seeing it swing as I walked on the treadmill. This was slightly strange, as my hair has been short for 15 years and I had only had it trimmed.

Eager to be free from the conversation, I replied, “I’m sorry to disappoint!” and then fled. A week later, she found me doing exercises on a mat with my eyes closed, and she blurted out, “I did not mean to critique your haircut. I simply wanted to tell you I loved your hair. You have beautiful hair! I am envious!”

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