High Maintenance

I have often heard men use the phrase “high maintenance” when describing a woman who needs a lot of care and attention, in other words, a princess.  However, I have rarely heard the phrase used to describe a man, but recent events have lead me to believe that some men deserve that moniker just as much as women.  It’s not necessarily a derogatory term.  Instead, it just describes an attitude and a way of life that has become the status quo for them as well as those of us who have to maintain them.

A perfect example of my high maintenance mate occurred this year on Thanksgiving.  Preparing the Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t any more work than normal, but it was a bit more stressful because I had to cook most of the food at my daughter’s house because she was on call at the hospital and couldn’t leave town.  Her kitchen is well stocked, and my son-in-law was very helpful when I couldn’t find something, but if you’ve ever prepared a big meal away from home, you understand the feeling of being outside your comfort zone.

I decided to make the pies and the sweet potatoes at home on Wednesday to reduce the workload on Thanksgiving Day.  John came into the kitchen to chat while I was working, and he mentioned that one of the neighbors who lets him hunt on his land had asked about going with him on a coon hunt.  He suggested that they go that night, and the neighbor said he couldn’t because they were busy getting ready for Thanksgiving.

After a thoughtful pause I said, “I didn’t realize he cooked.”

John said, “I don’t think he cooks at all.  Why would you say that?”

“Well, what on earth could he possibly be doing to help ‘get ready’ if he doesn’t cook?”

“Maybe he just provides moral support,” John suggested.

“Hmm…wonder what that’s like?” I replied.

John feigned offense at that comment, but I didn’t mean it as a slam.  I was really curious.  Do some men wander through the kitchen during meal preparation saying things like, “Great job on that turkey.”  Or “Nobody glazes a ham quite like you do, Honey.”  I imagine most couples play the same meal preparation game that we do where John offers to help, and I say I have everything under control even if I don’t.  Sometimes, just for fun, I ask him to do something like mash the potatoes or stir the gravy just to see the look of shock and dismay on his face.

The meal turned out great, and we had a lovely time, but I was pretty tired by the time we got home that evening.  I had one more load of laundry to do so John would have all the clothes he needed for the next five days when he caught the train to Chicago at 2:20 a.m. the next day.  I was loading the washer when John asked, “Can you throw a few things in a suitcase for me and wake me up about 1:00?  I’m going to try to get some sleep.”  Did he really think that making it sound like an inconsequential, five minute task would fool me?  He was asking me to pack his suitcase for his trip!!  Had he missed the fact that I’d spent the better part of the last two days cooking a big family meal with no help from him at all?  I just smiled and said, “Sure, I can do that.”  He’s definitely a throwback to an earlier generation, and sometimes I wonder if it’s worth all the work, but if you really love the classic models, you don’t mind the high maintenance.

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