Levels of Betrayal: Watching a Series Together

Hooked to TV

If there is one thing I love about the advancements in modern technology, it is how they have enabled us to binge watch an entire season of one television show over the course of a weekend. And in this vein there is nothing better than finding a show that already has five or six seasons for you to catch up on. Hours and hours of entertainment at your fingertips, free from the interruption of adverts and free from the agony of having to wait an entire week to find out what happens next. I mean, how did people live like that before?!

Spoiler Alert

But as with anything good, you have to watch out for its evil, yet subtle downsides. First there is the Spoiler Alert. This can happen in a number of different ways. Maybe it’s taken you a bit longer than everyone else to discover this particular show. Colleagues discussing the latest episode around the water cooler, or a crucial character’s death during mid-season finale of season three while you’ve only just started season two… And while I’m on the subject, when did mid-season finales become a thing?? Like torturing us for months at a time once a year wasn’t enough, we now we have to suffer twice?? I feel this merits a blog post of its own, so back to the spoilers…

When a season is in session, social media is your biggest enemy. As discussed in a previous post, I am not one of those people capable of watching a show week by week. (Unless it is something where suspense is not built into the long-term plot – like The Big Bang Theory, or Grey’s Anatomy these days). As such, I have to painstakingly wait for the entire season to end (or half season – please see mini-rant above) before I can begin watching. This necessitates not only un-following all of your favourite shows on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. It demands that you un-follow all of the actors’ pages as well, not to mention fan pages that you may subscribe to. You also have to be vigilant when scrolling on Buzzfeed and 9gag is just a warzone. It takes commitment, and it’s exhausting. It only takes a second, a lapse in judgement, or in some cases, an act of sheer brutal betrayal, to bring it all crumbling down.

Couple Watching TV

Let me set the scene… As you may know by now, Husby and I have a strict TV watching regime. One “thirty minute show” and one “sixty minute show” an evening; shows selected at random from the Cookie Jar, no Power of Veto. Roughly three weeks ago we very ceremoniously selected Scandal (also known as The Fixer in South Africa in order that it not be confused with the popular (?) soapie of the same name). I had been skeptical about adding this one to the Cookie Jar. We all love a bit of Shonda, but Grey’s has really been testing my resolve in recent seasons. But hey, the world is nuts about it and although they may have been wrong about The Walking Dead (jury still out on that one), my friends’ persistence had got it into the Cookie Jar and the Cookie Jar cannot be denied.

And so we settled in to watch it, and twenty minutes in, I was hooked. By the end of the first episode all thoughts of a watching regime had been tossed out the window. We had hit gold; a series that would ruin our lives; leave us sleep deprived; wrought with anguish over characters’ futures. And there were four glorious seasons to catch up on (season five still in progress at time of typing and we all know my feelings on “still in progress”.) We swiftly devoured three episodes and by the next night had finished season one (which only has seven episodes before you get too judgemental). On to season two the next night and TV addicts’ heroin had firmly taken hold.

It was three weeks later when the anxiety (more than usual) started. Only four episodes left. Should we save them, return to the “one episode a night” regime and really savour the final moments? Or should we face the unavoidable oncoming emptiness head on, devour all four episodes in one mini-marathon and then hold each other close and consume too many milkshakes as we fall into that void that inevitably follows running out of episodes of a show of pure gold? As fate would have it, the decision was made for us, sort of. It was the weekend and I was being subjected to a ridiculously over the top bachelorette party stay over at some spa in some mountains somewhere that probably still counted as Joburg. A whole weekend of sisterly bonding with ladies I only sort of knew. Oh how I love family commitments. What ever happened to a good old kitchen tea?

Bored at a Party.jpg

It was every bit as awful as I had anticipated, maybe worse. There were games; mandatory games. And a lot of alcohol was consumed as I sipped surreptitiously from my Coke Light In A Can. But all was not lost, I was coming home to Scandal (and Husby of course); a mini-marathon would be had and the trauma of an extrovert’s dream weekend would be washed away.

I should have noticed something was wrong the second I walked in the door. Everything was just so clean; dishes washed, counter tops wiped down, I think a broom may even have made its way across the floor. The milkshakes had been blended, the popcorn had been popped, there were milk tart cupcakes in the fridge. Now Husby has his moments, and making an extra effort after I’ve suffered an ordeal of a weekend is not beyond him. I chose to feel warm and fuzzy; until I saw his face – a picture of guilt. He’d broken something, that must be it; something I treasured, a gift from my late Gran maybe. Or worse yet, he’d broken a promise, caved in in my absence and invited his Uncle Cyril to our wedding. But turns out all he broke was my trust. He had watched the last four episodes of Scandal without me.

Olivia Sad

Words cannot describe the hurt. He made his excuses; he was lonely, there was no Grand Prix that weekend, he didn’t want to delve into the Movie Hat without me, his brother was meant to come for a braai but had cancelled last minute; but nothing could fix this, he had ruined everything. For three weeks we had been in this together; side by side through the “will they / won’t they”, the torture scenes, the kidnappings, the blackmail. We had been a team (just like Fitz and Liv, dare I say) *sniff. And he’d thrown it all away with four precious episodes in solitude. He made his apologies, all kinds of promises to make it up to me. He didn’t mind watching it again with me, he said. Dear god; why couldn’t he have just cheated on me.

Levels of Betrayal: Hairdressers

There is a quote doing the rounds on Facebook at the moment. One of those ones that seems to get straight to the crux of the matter, you feel it in your soul, you make an involuntary sound of agreement and immediately click “share”.


Wow right? You’re immediately lost in thought – transported back to that moment in time when someone “done wronged you”! It could have been an old flame, an ex-best friend (I have a few too many of those) or a teacher or parent who never quite lived up to their side of the bargain.

What you don’t think about is all the times that you left someone to drown; and then asked them to trust you while they were still choking. Betrayal comes in many forms; some that don’t even make it onto our radar. But that doesn’t make them any less real.

Now if you’ll indulge me with a little tale of betrayal…

The price of everything is going up, you can barely keep track. You’ve had to change to no name brands and your preference for organic bananas is a thing of the past. No more weekly manicures, a quick YouTube video has shown you all you need to know, and saved you hundreds in the process. But there are some things you can’t do; like plumbing, or electrical installations, for instance. And cutting your own hair. You can’t possibly be expected to cut your own hair. You can’t even see most of it for one thing. And as much as you love your friends you don’t trust their hand to remain steady once a girly night in takes hold.

So forking out for a haircut is a necessary evil. Colour on the other hand is a questionable need vs want scenario. You committed yourself to a colour when you started your new job. You’re pretty sure everyone thinks it’s natural, but now your roots are starting to betray you. You phone the salon. R240 for a cut – you can stretch to that – the credit card will make it your future self’s problem. But R380 for a colour?! Roots only?! You’re not sure you can justify that – even to your future self. But it’s ok, this is what that aisle of hair dye products in Clicks is meant for right – for just such an occasion. How difficult can it be? You probably won’t even need to ask a friend for help.

You come home on Wednesday evening and decide to make a night of it – bottle of wine, candles, movie star foam bath. You’re living the dream. But suddenly you’ve dozed off, you wake with a start as your face slips beneath the bath water and the dream has turned into a nightmare. Your scalp is on fire. A rogue spark from a candle must have done it because there is no other explanation for the excruciating pain radiating through your skull. You waste no time in dunking yourself under water, anticipating a hiss and a sizzle and the unpleasant aroma of burning natural fibres. But all you get is more pain. An intensified stinging sensation that you imagine can only be rivalled by child birth. You burst through the bath water like a scene from Inception, your fingers flying to your scalp. You feel instant relief that there is still hair there, but this small consolation only offers a momentary reprieve. You fling yourself from the tub, not caring for towels or bathmats, grabbing the edge of the sink for stability as you take your first desperate look in the mirror, heart pounding. It must be a trick of the light, the soft candlelight flickering in the peaceful evening breeze. There is no way your roots could possibly be orange.

But your roots are orange. Like traffic cone orange. After multiple lather, rinse, repeats in varying temperatures of water, using three different types of shampoo and even that special anti-frizz conditioner you save for special occasions, your roots are still orange. In fact they may even be more orange. You spend two hours on the internet Googling everything you can think of. There’s nothing for it, you’re going to need a professional.

After a sleepless night of tossing and turning and getting up every twenty minutes to see if your hair has miraculously turned itself back to normal, it doesn’t take much to convince your boss that you’re “sick”. Your next call is to the hairdresser. A most humbling conversation with an expert whose profession you failed to recognise the true value of only hours before. Suddenly, she is a saviour in your eyes. Jennifer will know what to do. Jennifer will make the pain stop; both the pain in your skull and the pain in your soul. With her help you will be able to go out in public again. Except that Jennifer doesn’t work on Thursdays.

So it’s Caroline who will be your saviour, or at least this is what you saliently pray as you make your way through the mall to the salon, beanie pulled down over your ears. A junior stylist and the only person available at zero notice. It does not bode well. But anything is better than orange, surely?!

She doesn’t laugh, but she also doesn’t quite not laugh. Then she applies some miracle lotion and suddenly your scalp isn’t burning anymore and she is the kindest soul, and most awesome human being you have ever met. She fixes the colour. She fetches you a cappuccino and a bagel while you wait. She engages in meaningful conversation instead of that awkward, meaningless chit chat that Jennifer usually subjects you to.

And then, the holy grail, she offers you a free haircut. “Change the style so that that’s what people will notice first”, she says. And boy will they notice. Junior stylist or not, Caroline could give Edward Scissorhands a run for his money. You feel like a new person. Light and airy and no longer weighed down by the stresses of that old style and those orange roots. People notice, they smile, they pay compliments; your self-esteem grows in leaps and bounds. And it’s largely thanks to Caroline. Life couldn’t be better. Until about a month later when you realise you need a trim.

For six solid years Jennifer was your stylist, as soon as you were “grown-up” enough to choose one for yourself. She’s seen you through triumphs and tribulations, graduations and break-ups. She knows your life history and you know hers. And she’s wonderful, really she is. It’s just that Caroline does a better cut. And now you have that cut there really is no going back.

But with calming relief you remember that Jennifer doesn’t work on Thursdays. So you will just get your hair cut on Thursdays from now on. Jennifer will never know. She’ll probably just forget about you – assume you moved away or are growing your hair out. You love it when a plan comes together. And so, before long, it is Caroline who knows your life history and it is Caroline who is seeing you through the good times and the bad. You have a comfortable rhythm, you understand each other, and things couldn’t be more perfect.

Then one dreary Thursday afternoon as you rattle on about work trauma and friends who are just too much effort, you spy her out of the corner of your eye. Jennifer. Covering for Miranda apparently. The hurt in her eyes is plain for all to see. She sees your new style, the radiant colour, the familiarity in your interaction with Caroline. She knows this is not the first time. She knows this is not a once-off. You have been seeing another hairdresser behind her back and you didn’t even have the decency to go to a different salon.

You try and justify it to yourself. You’re sure Jennifer still has enough clients to get by. You have to put your own needs first sometimes and a good haircut is a crucial part of the very fibre of your being. You know Jennifer would understand if she just gave you a chance to explain. But it’s too late for apologies. Her eyes, at once filled with pain and then filled with fury, tell you all you need to know. You have cheated on your hairdresser and there’s no going back.