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(TARA HARDY FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
(TARA HARDY FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Who is the worst person you could cheat on? Add to ...

The Essay is a daily personal piece submitted by readers. Have a story to tell? See our guidelines at tgam.ca/essayguide.

I’m thinking of cheating. I don’t feel good about it, but the thrill is gone. Every woman knows the feeling: no excitement; no pizzazz, the same old thing. I’m being taken for granted.

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The problem is, I don’t want to hurt anyone. And people do talk.

Like all women, I know that this relationship is the most important one I will ever have. In a perfect world, it should be till death do us part. But when it begins to lose the sparkle, we know. It’s subtle at first, but unmistakable.

I have been made to feel unimportant, just one woman in a long line of women, many more beautiful than me. The endearing little names I had become accustomed to have suddenly disappeared. Then came the line that everyone dreads: “I’m too busy.” Too busy to make me feel special? Too busy to spend time with me?

Initially, I bit my tongue. Was it something I’d said? Was I not showing enough respect? Perhaps I lost my spark. Maybe a regular date, once a week, would reinvigorate the relationship?

What would Dr. Phil suggest? Should I kiss the relationship goodbye? Am I going to lie down, be a doormat, and simply take the abuse and lack of caring? Aren’t I worth more than that?

Inside, I know the answer. As wrenching a decision as it is, it’s time to kick my hairstylist to the curb. She’s toast.

But this leaves me with nowhere else to go. If you live in a big city it’s easier. You simply go outside your immediate area, and chances are that the one scorned one will never find out.

But in a small city like mine, after you have declared yourself to be this most heinous brand of traitor, who will take you in?

Word of your defection spreads quicker than wildfire. You can no longer go out to eat for fear of running into your former stylist. The movies are out, as are any of her favourite haunts – and you know them all since, after 10 years of chatting once a month, there are no secrets between you. You even went to her lesbian wedding.

It’s worse than finding a new doctor. At least with doctors, the results are clear. The patient stays sick, gets better, or dies. But the results of a visit to a new stylist are more of a very subjective assessment. Your friends won’t tell you the truth. Oh, they may say your hair looks great, but you’re never really sure.

And you have to wonder about the integrity of someone who would take in a turncoat such as yourself.

Last time I switched salons was 15 years ago. The stylist, entrusted with my two daughters for their prom “dos”, had turned both of them into what can best be described as hooker lookalikes, with ornate styles more at home on Jarvis Street in Toronto than at a school dance.

And because that wasn’t enough, she (after returning from an extensive college course in colouring) turned my hair orange. It didn’t look too bad in the subtle salon lighting, but people in the mall were staring.

I prayed this same college didn’t also train engineers, or anyone allowed to play with wiring. Of course, maybe that stylist “passed” her course through nefarious means. I’m certainly not one to point fingers. The only reason my dog passed Puppy College was because I cheated on her behalf. She still can’t sit, heel or come. All she can do is eat and bark.

Maybe I can bide my time while sampling the competition – like an almost-divorced man trolling for chicks. If I came in with a different colour or cut, my stylist might notice me. Maybe then she would learn to treat me better; stop fobbing me off on a junior stylist while charging me the same rates.

She claims she still mixes my special formula of hair colour, but who knows what goes on behind those shuttered doors? And she says she’ll supervise the entire procedure, but she’s so off my case. I have caught her reading a magazine and having a coffee in the back room while the underling botched my hair.

But who’s going to say anything? The stylist has scissors in her hands – and toxic chemicals at her disposal.

The really challenging part is that I now have to find a therapist. As every woman knows, the time spent in the stylist’s chair is part vanity, part need to vent. Dishing about relationships (yours and hers), moaning about problems with kids, simply enjoying some harmless gossip are all part of the experience.

So, now I’ll have to pay a shrink as well as a stylist. This could get expensive. I guess it’s true that cheaters pay – one way or another.

I have begun the arduous task of replacing my stylist. Time is of the essence. My roots are showing and I’ll soon have to appear in public with a brown paper bag over my head.

On the other hand, showing my unkempt hairdo might be the perfect revenge! I could wear a sign saying: “For hair like this, see Wanda.”

Disheartened women everywhere know the thought of starting over at this age is frightening. Where is my true hair soulmate – the one I can grow old with?

Laurie Best lives in Waterloo, Ont.

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