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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

I cheated, and I loved every minute

Jeanne Marie Laskas The Washington Post

I‘m told everyone does this sort of thing, so I shouldn’t be so upset. But is that any way to solve a moral crisis? A sin matters only if it’s … rare?

My sin! I didn’t mean to do it. It just sort of happened. And the worst part of it? I enjoyed it.

It had nothing to do with love, or a real relationship. It was just a stupid little fling. My first hair fling. Yup. I cheated on Christine, my hairdresser of some 15 years.

There, I said it. There is indeed something cathartic about saying it — even to the air. But catharsis will only take you so far. I need forgiveness. I need to tell Christine.

I am trying to figure out how to tell Christine the truth, and the only way I can think to do this is to, well, lie. I’ll tell her I was away on an exotic vacation, and I just needed my bangs trimmed. So I went to the hotel salon, and this evil hairstylist, he kept saying, “I must geeve you new style!” (He had an exotic, foreign accent.) He came at me with the scissors and the hair dye, and I said, “No! No!” But he, um, he brainwashed me into thinking that if I got a new hairstyle I could become a truly successful and spiritually evolved person.

Good Lord. Fifteen years with the same hairdresser. How did it come to this? Have I been feeling restless with Christine? Resentful? Bored?

No! In fact, none of this is my fault. This is all Wendy’s fault. What really happened was she had an appointment with Jane, her hairdresser, and I tagged along for moral support, and I was giving my moral support when somehow Wendy and Jane turned to me, and one of them said, “Soccer mom,” about my bob, which used to be short and chic but now was, well, not. This was a maintenance issue, not a Christine issue; I just hadn’t had time for a haircut. And there I was in a hair salon, with all those scissors around, and Wendy egging me on, and Jane staring at my head. She had a vision for a silky cropped look, stacked in back. That was a most titillating thrill. To be looked at anew.

I didn’t think of Christine during the act. I didn’t think of all those 15 years and all that commitment, or that elegant flip she created for my wedding, or even the time she came to my house to rescue me from the bottle of hair bleach I was threatening to pour on my head. No, I thought of none of this. I just sat back and got me a pretty new look with a perfect stranger.

And I hate that I loved it.

Friends who have learned of my guilt have said: “Oh, let it go. Everyone switches hairdressers.”

“I am not switching hairdressers!” I have correctly replied. “It was just a fling …” Then I tell them how Wendy made me do it.

As it happened, a few nights after the act, my daughters picked a bedtime story off the shelf, and it was the story of Adam and Eve. I was not quite mentally prepared for our first visit to the Garden of Eden, but there it was. When the tale was over, my 6-year-old wanted to know if God felt more angry at the serpent for telling Eve it was okay to eat that apple, or at Eve for eating it.

“Well, God’s always sort of mad at that serpent,” I said. “Those two go way back.” (Unprepared!) Then we talked about how important it is to do good even if you get tempted by someone urging you to do bad.

“Well, we don’t do bad in our family,” my 4-year-old said, offering her evidence: “We don’t say, ‘Shut up,’ and we never pick up ducks by the neck.”

Right-o. I wasn’t sure where the duck thing came from, but I sat there wishing I could add: “And we don’t cheat on our hairdresser!” But I could no longer make such a claim. Oh, the guilt was oozing into more and more areas of my sorrowful life.

So just this morning I was walking through town and, sick of wallowing in guilt, I thought about stopping by Christine’s and telling her face-to-face. I would show her my new hair, tell her what happened. I would plead with her to … take me back. “When in doubt, do the right thing.” That’s what I was thinking. But then I found myself hanging a left and going to get a bagel instead.

Now I’m on the phone with Wendy. I’m telling her she has to help get me out of this mess. We cook up a plan. She’ll take pictures of my head, a complete panoramic view, so that months from now when I go to Christine for my next cut I can show her the whole truth (and maybe she can re-create this look?).

“When in doubt, do the right thing,” I say to Wendy, and this I believe. “Even if you have to put it off.”