My Cheatin' Heart

Today’s guest post is from the incredible Darrelyn Saloom. Follow her on Twitter, or click here to read more of her guest posts. The painting above is “Velma and the Diamond Ring” by Francis X Pavy. His work reflects Darrelyn’s hometown in Acadiana.

Writing a book takes time. I spend hours and hours a day at the keyboard
and ignore my family and friends. And for every minute I’m unavailable
to my loved ones, I feel guilty. Under stress, I knew I had to discover a
way to manage my guilt before I cracked and did something foolish.

In
an essay on memoir writing, “Looking for My Family,” Ian Frazier says,
“Guilt is the headwind that you sail into. It’s incredibly strong. In my
case it was so strong that I did extreme things to combat it. But you
can combat it—give all your money to charity, or whatever makes you feel
less guilty, and then you can work, because the reader doesn’t care how
guilty you feel.”

Well, I didn’t want to give all my money to
charity. And I feel a little guilty about that. But I also didn’t want
guilt’s gale-force headwind to snap the mast of my ship and hurl me into
an ocean of anxiety. So what did I do? I did something foolish and had
an affair. 

I never set out to be unfaithful and know it was a
despicable thing to do. But what made my two-timing so shocking was that
I betrayed Deborah Cutler, one of my best friends for thirty-seven
years. She is also my hairstylist, the only person I allow to cut and
color my hair.

The incident began innocently enough. Desperate to
find stress relief, I indulged in a facial at Spa Mizan. Master
esthetician, Carrie Pleasants Hebert, steamed, exfoliated, and plastered
enzymes onto my face. Then she massaged my upper body into a state of
relaxation I had not felt in months. Possibly years.

Disoriented,
mane matted to my head with essential oils, I sat up looking like the
kitten I once freed from a pipe by smearing Crisco inside the tube and
sliding him out. Naturally, when Carrie saw my tresses, she asked,
“Would you like me to see if a stylist is available?”

As soon as I
hooked my bra and slipped on my sandals, I rested my neck onto the
guillotine of a shampoo bowl. Fingers danced in tiny circles on my
scalp. The scent of rosemary (or was it mint?) soothed my sinus
passages. My locks were combed, blow dried, and round-brushed into a
work of art.

One facial led to another. And then another. This
led to more shampoos and style extravaganzas. And before I knew it, I
had agreed to go all the way. I said yes to a haircut. But I had crossed
a line. And I knew it. Shame now threatened my spa treatments, my
new found sanctuary, my escape. The ringing voice of guilt pealed like
a bell on a buoy though my head for days.

So when the time came
for color and highlights, I pulled myself together and drove to my best
friend’s salon. I listened to Hank Williams tunes along the way. Neither Smokey Robinson nor Johnny Rivers could help me that day. I
needed a steel guitar and the lyrics of Hank. 

Inside the salon,
I sat in a chair in front of a mirror and confessed my hair affair. But
my pal only laughed and said she understood. And then she painted a
potion into thin strips of dead protein, wrapped them in foil, and stuck
my head under a dryer. Afterwards, blond highlights illuminated my
face. 

I was forgiven.

I’m still trying to find a way to
balance time spent writing and time spent with family and friends. The
winds of guilt continue to whip up out of the Gulf and threaten to sink
my ship. But at least I have found a haven where I can go to relax with a
clear conscious. Thanks to an amazing esthetician, absolution, and a
lifelong friend.

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28 thoughts on “My Cheatin' Heart

  1. Rachel Whitaker

    Darrelyn,

    Absolutely loved the post. Fabulous writing. I was hooked pretty much from the first sentence, and now I’m dying to read more of your stuff! I love a good writer with a strong voice and a knack for storytelling.

    Thanks for the laugh (and the inspiration),

    Rachel Whitaker

  2. Charlie Haas

    Thanks for pointing me to another lovely piece of yours. Please excuse my slowness in responding… a busy weekend, and my putative new book is (as always) making me a little crazy.

    Yes — when I’m writing I feel guilty about everything I’m not doing, and when I’m doing those things I’m guilty about not writing. But you know how it is & you said it first & better.

    Your posts are always a pleasure. I hope life is good with you.

  3. Jane Bretl

    Darrelyn,
    Now THAT was a fun ride! You have perfect comic timing, so now we can add humor writer to your long list of talents! I enjoyed the juxtaposition of two "unrelated" sources of guilt — both misunderstood by at least half of the overall population? — yet both still a driving force in the choices we make. Thanks for the laugh-out-loud story!

  4. Sally G

    Lovely and hilarious!! Based on the comments, hair-do guilt must rank right up there with extra-marital affair guilt…thank goodness one doesn’t lead right up to the other! I loved the element of surprise as it wound it’s way from naughtiness to absolution, those "thin strips of protein" illuminating blond once the highlights were in place. A halo of light at the end of the tunnel. Your writing is such a delight to read, I look forward to next month, and the next and so on….

  5. Jeanne Veillette Bowerman

    Darrelyn, gee, I was hoping for a really steamy one 😉 I absolutely loved how you described being pulled into the affair… "One facial led to another. And then another. This led to more shampoos and style extravaganzas. And before I knew it, I had agreed to go all the way." Perfect. I’m calling a masseuse immediately!

  6. cynthia newberry martin

    Darrelyn, this was such fun to read! I loved this line:
    "Well, I didn’t want to give all my money to charity. And I feel a little guilty about that." Your story is also a very familiar story. The same person cut my hair until I was 29 and moved away and another person has cut it since then…except for "a little incident." It’s nice to know there are others out there like me.

  7. Cindy Bullion

    Wow! I’ve avoided going to a certain store where I often run into my previous stylist. lol So I can relate, but there’s no way I could have ever expressed it like this! It is awesome!
    Darrelyn, you have a wonderful way with words!
    Thank you1
    I’ll see you soon.
    xo
    Cindy

  8. kat magendie

    If you could have seen my face when I read the line "I had an affair" *laughing* – Just LOVED this piece . . . and have been there. In fact, I cheated and didn’t go back and then cheated on that one and didn’t go back, but I’ve finally found The One and am completely satisfied (laughing).

    This post has made my morning – just love it. (And by the way, my dad listened to Hank Willams SR all the time – Your Cheating Heart is branded into my memory synases – I haven’t heard that song in years, but I can remember every nuance of it, even the record scratches).

  9. shelly oreilly

    Well, thank God I am not alone…I know the feeling that I go maybe alittle too much but you have made me feel better about it! The hair salon I will soon give into soon and those facials w/any of the girls in my fav. massage chairs; luminate me! Pedi. is now a favorite word of mine and the choices of colors are off the charts FUN! I enjoyed reading your take on the place and feel the same way you do! A better me walks out everytime..They are doing their jobs well there….LONG LIVE Spa Mizan!

  10. Angela Compton

    Ha!ha! This was great! I can so relate….both to the guilty conscience for writing and the hair stylist affair. I had a best friend who did my hair until she closed down her business. I stepped out on her once out of convenience, and did not realize it was such a faux pas. (I truly was socially sheltered). She looked my head over for several long, excruciating minutes to look at the damage done by the other woman. After a stern lecture, I vowed to never let it happen again, and she forgave me. Even though she closed her business some time later, I learned a life lesson that day. As far as the writing….well, I just buy the kids ice cream and they are happy!LOL!

  11. Alicia

    Too funny! I know exactly how you feel, regarding time spent on my career and yes, my hair stylists. You really had me going about the affair, by the way! I really enjoy reading stories like this that address serious issues, like guilt, in a fun way.

  12. George LaCas

    Guilt is always a strong force in my writing, whether the motivator to write or in the content (to greater and lesser degrees) … but in my most recent short piece, which might become a long piece, guilt figures greatly. I like to use guilt along with other "ugly" emotions as found material for my art. Your post above has lots of great imagery and sensory detail, Darrelyn, and it makes me want to go out and spend more than ten bucks on a haircut! Looking forward to more from you.

  13. Katy Richard

    Darrelyn, First I "mused, maybe she’ll give me all her money if I can convince her that I’m a charity." Then, "darn, out of luck." Next, I thought you were about to confess to AN AFFAIR!! My following thought was, "oh my, is she really going to do this online?" I couldn’t wait to hear the juicy details. Then, I just cracked up and laughed for the rest of your essay. I love the way you write and your chosen subjects. Any life long friend of yours is lucky indeed.
    oxox katy

  14. Perry

    I too have cheated on my hairdresser. Talk about trust, I confessed before I got my haircut.
    I found that, unlike spouses or boyfriend/girlfriends, hairdressers understand the need for the occaisional variety.

  15. Madison Woods

    Guilt is such a huge part of my stress! I hate it and have recently begun breaking my addiction to it, but that’s such a hard thing to do when so many loyalties are linking me to almost every aspect of my life, pulling in different directions.

    Your post was enjoyable, and I particularly love it when a writer draws parallels like that.

  16. Marisa Birns

    Oh, guilt. Yep. The nuns knew how to inculcate that in their students and I received an "A" in that class!

    Laughed aloud, especially when I first realized that your "affair" was made so much worse because you cheated on your hair stylist, not your husband. 😀

  17. Debra Marrs

    Bad writing day? Bad hair day? Your essay is so rich with metaphor, Darrelyn. Really appreciate the Ian Frazier passage regarding guilt to tie it all together. Sweet! Brilliant!

    @DebraMarrs on Twitter

  18. Ro Rainwater

    What a relief! You had me going there for a few minutes – WELL DONE LOL! When I realized what it was really about, I laughed through the rest of the blog, enjoying every word! Funny girl. Now you’ve given me something more to ponder about myself and my thinking – or am I taking this all too seriously? Oy. It’s not nice to confuse a double Pisces who’s already very spatial.

    I have several writer friends – being a retired freelancer myself. Being a painter is also solitary work, and guilt sets in when I realize I’ve totally forgotten friends or family for several days (daze). I have to remind myself often that friends/friendship isn’t a possession which I control. It’s an acceptance of my friend in every way.

    PS: ADORE the painting! (Which I also found something to think about myself – Oy! so much work still to do!)

  19. Jennifer Kemzuro

    ahhh Guilt. I think guilt is a useless emotion, however, my husband says Guilt is my superpower. I don’t believe him, I say we choose to feel guilty about stuff. I choose to forgive myself and have no guilt because it’s not healthy. Your hair affair was innocent I would forgive you too. I bet you are more available to your loved ones than you realize. Anyone who rescues a kitten from a pipe has no reason to ever feel guilt, your lifelong friend knows that. Your family does too. Great piece of writing (as always) and I also love the art from Francis Pavy.

  20. Todd Glasscock

    Funny story. And good point. Family and friends have to understand writers and their need to write. I think it’s hard to convince them it’s our work, because they may not see the work for months or years and probably won’t see much of a paycheck or none at all. 🙂

  21. Theresa Milstein

    This piece was not what I thought it would be. I laughed the whole way through it.

    I had the same hairstylist for twelve-years, but then I moved. Since then, I’ve hopped from stylist to stylist because few get curly hair right. Now I wear it straight so it’s easier to get a good cut.

  22. Erika Robuck

    Ha! Love it!

    I had to cheat on my stylist once, when she didn’t have any openings. I told her I looked at her space and thought of her the whole time it was going on. She was hurt, but it’s made us stronger.

    Thanks for getting me smiling this morning!

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