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Daze of My Life: Maintenance

Daze of My Life

Before I get into this extremely delicate subject, let me first state for the record that I do so with love in my heart and appreciative good humor in my pen. The subject to which I now refer to is, "maintenance," and by "maintenance" I mean, the health and beauty requirements of women (more so than men, although men are starting to see the light or shall I say, respond to the advertising) in general and my wife, Dina, in particular.- manicures, pedicures, facials, lip waxing, eyebrow tweezing, haircuts, lowlights, highlights, "roots," "color," "permanents" (more like temporaries, if you ask me), cosmetics, make-up, creams, moisturizers, perfumes, etc. - requirements which most definitely have withstood the test of time and seem not very effected by any sort of budgetary constraints. And "not that there's anything wrong with that," but it does seem to be a cost of doing business, so to speak.
Now "maintenance" as in not an option, as I have been lead to believe - or rather been told, repeatedly - is as much about me, make that for me, as it is about her (my wife, Dina). And every time I inquire as to the reason for this ongoing treatment/expense, the explanation - make the word - that I am most consistently given is, "maintenance." Moreover, if I offer the least bit of resistance to this most concise and simple response, I am given yet another extremely familiar explanation: "I'm doing this for you, Kenny. If you don't want to me to do it, just tell me and I won't." Yeah, right, and when I wake up tomorrow morning, I'll actually be the weight I have listed on my driver's license.
As a long-time spouse, and an even longer-time son, I have been witness to the difficulties and demands on working women as they strive to juggle family and friends and work and pleasure while wanting to look and feel their best. And I readily admit - and agree - that generally speaking, men are not under the same dual-track pressure as women are, and all things being equal, which of course they're not, women have much greater challenges to overcome than men. Ergo the following: a women has to do what a woman has to do - to compete and to succeed, and "maintenance" as in trying to maintain the status quo, if you will, apparently is what has to be done, or else.
This all-inclusive explanation, "maintenance," reminds me of a M*A*S*H episode I saw rerun on television recently. In the episode, Hawkeye (Capt. Pierce) employed an imaginary friend from his childhood, "Tuttle," (now Capt. Tuttle) as the person responsible, on paper anyway, for arranging and donating medical supplies, blankets, food, etc., to the local orphanage run by Sister Teresa. Whatever questions arose about this continuing benevolence, the explanation given for it (by Capt. Pierce) was always, "Tuttle." As the episode unfolded, Capt. Tuttle eventually died (jumping out of a helicopter without his parachute while bringing additional medical supplies to the sick and needy) and in yet another charitable act, designated the orphanage as the sole beneficiary of his G.I. insurance.
And just as "Tuttle" was an imaginary friend, so to do I think that "maintenance" is a bit of a figment, something that doesn't really exist. And though I don't really mind that the "work" is getting done, I'm just not sure that "maintenance" is the real reason for doing it. After all, my wife, Dina, isn't an automobile, she doesn't require regular servicing (or does she?) Nevertheless, I realize Dina has needs - and wants - and I can accept that. What I can't accept, however, is that in real life, imaginary friends eventually disappear, but in my life/our life, this figment, "maintenance," seems to have moved in, permanently.

Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.

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