Toronto
3 min

One relationship you don’t want to screw up

I cheated once. Okay, twice. I’d like to imagine that I am above such bad behaviour, but when it came down to it I committed all the cheating clichés. I went for someone younger, prettier, more willing to be more “experimental” — and with a nicer salon.

That’s right I cheated on my hairdresser. The task of trying to find a girlfriend is daunting enough but finding a good hairdresser as a black woman is the equivalent of that sudden inheritance you didn’t even know was coming. My hairdresser is the gold standard. If she was 20 years younger I would marry her in a New York minute.

So then why did I do it? Our relationship was in a good place. We didn’t have issues or arguments. She took care of my hair and on more than one occasion even rescued it from a state worthy of those god-awful “before” makeover shots.

It took years to build our loving, trusting relationship. We got through the monumental moment of me coming out to her after not being able to deflect the boyfriend questions any longer. Beforehand I was seriously concerned because she’s an older black woman with a conservative background. In fact I was more terrified of revealing my sexual orientation to my hairdresser than to my own mother. My mother may react badly but I don’t live at home anymore and she doesn’t get paid to make me look good.

I was all sweaty palms and pounding heart through the entire conversation but at the end of it she just paused and then chalked up to my gayness to my being an artist.

She stood by me even with all my constant lateness and changing appointments at the last minute. She even gave me a break on the price a few times when I was tight with money. She was patient, nurturing and a very good listener. What more could I possibly ask for?

And yet I strayed. It started out innocently enough. I was just supposed to accompany a friend to her hair appointment. I had plenty of fashion magazines to flip through to keep myself entertained as I waited for her, but then when my friend casually suggested her hairdresser give me a quick little trim I acquiesced. The next thing I knew I had a five-minute quickie with another hairdresser and her business card was burning a hole in my wallet.

We made an appointment for me to come back — just for a little touch up — in a few weeks. I told myself I wasn’t going to go back. It was one little slip up but I was still a good and loyal customer.

But then weeks passed and one day I happened to be in the neighbourhood. Since I was already there why not stop in just to say hello? It would be rude not to.

What can I say, I’m a sucker for a pretty face. It’s not that she was any better than my regular hairdresser. I simply got off on the excitement. It was the rush of different hands massaging my scalp, the refreshing change of up-to-date music playing in the background, the back-and-forth banter that included pop culture references that she actually understood.

But I couldn’t keep getting off on the rush forever and really once the thrill was gone what did we really have? What did she really know and understand about me or my hair?

The affair was lovely but soon the guilt was getting to me. As fun as it was I had to quit so I called the whole thing off cold turkey. No lingering phone calls where we talked about our feelings. I simply ended it by promising another appointment and never called her back.

I tried to wait a decent amount of time to go back to my true hair dresser, but finally my hair started to look downright ratty and vanity won out over my embarrassment at having strayed.

She seemed fine on the phone when I called, though she declined my offer for a cup of coffee when I arrived 10 minutes late. We had some casual catch-up conversation on the weather and work. But then I sat down in her chair and the second she placed her hands in my hair I broke under pressure. I confessed everything, nearly in tears, and promised never ever to do it again. I blamed my friend for delivering me into temptation and said that other hairdresser didn’t mean anything to me really.

Throughout my collapse and confession she said nothing. There was a long pause, the entire salon was quiet. Was it possible that she would break up with me and I’d never have nice hair again?

“It’s okay, Dainty,” she said, finally. “I knew you’d come back.”

It was awful but now I know better. I’ve been dating for years and I may never find my princess charming. I could be kissing frogettes for a long time to come but at the very least my hair will always be Halle Berry movie star beautiful.