Relationships always start the same way. Two people meet, and they feel a spark, a connection. The feeling of happiness and satisfaction fills you like a total euphoria. You make each other better. You can’t imagine life without them; they can’t imagine life without you.
But after a while, sometimes, the spark can fade. The happiness evolves into a state of being content. You walk around the streets and someone else may catch your eye. The excitement of something new tempts you, to shake you from the rut of what is now habitual, customary. Yesterday, I did the unthinkable. I was desperate, and I was tempted. After a healthy, committed relationship of two years, I cheated. I went to a different hair stylist.
Two years ago, I decided it was important to start grooming myself after seeing the movie Crazy, Stupid, Love (shout out to David Lindhagen). My mom set me up with Fernando. He was the hair stylist at the salon she went to, and I decided to give it a shot. Fernando cut my hair, and made me a new man. People always ask “how do you know when it’s the one?” I knew from the minute his hands massaged my scalp with dandruff treating shampoo, that he was the one. If this were a movie the song “Fernando” by Abba would be playing to a montage of shots of Fernando cutting my hair, us laughing together, swapping stories. Magic.
I was happy with Fernando. He made me feel good about myself. He always styled my hair the way I liked it. I liked Fernando, maybe loved. Things got serious- I introduced him to a few of my friends. When you introduce someone to your friends, you know it’s serious.
I continued to visit Fernando. It’s not that I was bored with Fernando. He was safe; a nice guy, reliable and consistent. Last Saturday I called Fernando to see if I could swing by for a quick visit. It had been 7 weeks since my last cut and I was feeling not so fresh. My hair was long, it couldn’t be styled properly, and I was feeling like a non-groomed dog (cute, but too shaggy). He told me he was all booked up; I asked if he could see me the next day, he responded a quick no. He said he could squeeze me in in a week’s time and I agreed. But it didn’t feel right.
Monday rolled around and as I sat at work, snapchatting selfies- it hit me. I needed a haircut, and I needed it now. My date with Fernando was a week away, I was tempted, could I wait a week? Thoughts of adultery ran through my mind. But I repressed them, until I was washing my hands in the washroom. I looked up to my reflection. Maybe it was the lighting. Maybe it was the hair standing up at the back of my head. But at that moment I realized, I was going to cheat on Fernando, and I was going to cheat today.
After work I walked around the Fashion District of Toronto, seeking my mistress. I walked into “The Original Grooming Experts” I asked how much a hair cut was. They told me hair styling comes in part of a package called “The Alpha Male” which involved a Shampoo and Conditioning, Paraffin Hand wax, Hot Towel Treatment, and then a Haircut and Style. All of this would cost me $55. If I was going to cheat on Fernando it wasn’t going to be with an expensive whore. I didn’t want all this glitz and glamour. I wanted a respectable partner who knew the situation, no questions asked, in and out. I walked out and saw a barber shop. I walked in and an elderly man greeted me and said take a seat. I silently obliged. It was an S&M scenario, I was a naughty boy who was about to be DOMINATED!
He blanketed me with a fancy apron. He draped a towlette around my neck. He said “nice day isn’t it. Nice and hot.” I knew it was the heat of the fiery hell I was about to be damned too. “How do you want it?” “Tender, loving, and quick” I thought. I was nervous, not only was I cheating on Fernando I was letting an unknown touch my hair. My neuroses kicked in. I explained the cut “tapered around the back and sides fading from short too long. Leave it so I could side part it.” I didn’t have my picture of Ryan Gosling to show him. All I could think about was Fernando’s smile as this man was let loose to possibly butcher my hair. I was vulnerable.
He began to cut. I trembled like I had just come out from a cold lake. As hair dropped from my head on to my lap, the nausea kicked in. The all too familiar feeling I have every time I drink alcohol or eat a large meal. I closed my eyes and breathed in and out. He could sense my unease. “First time?” he asked. I was too ashamed to respond. Every hour every minute seemed to last an eternity.
I was so afraid Fernando.
30 minutes later I opened my eyes. What I saw in the mirror scared me. I liked it. I wanted to hate the cut so badly, to prove to myself that Fernando was my one and only. But I loved it. I looked dapper. “A new man!” he exclaimed. The elderly barber was a professional, a natural; he’d been cutting hair since a time that pre-dated electricity. He knew to take his time, be gentle, and help me through this- a professional adulterer. I thanked him, paid, and left.
I still haven’t called Fernando to cancel my Saturday appointment. I’m not sure if this is the end of our relationship, if he would even have me back. Do I even want him back? I don’t know yet. My infidelity is something I am going to have to live with for the rest of my life.
Though we never thought that we could lose, there’s no regret.If I had to do the same again. I would, my friend, Fernando.