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Friday, September 5, 2014

Maintenance Is an Art

                Was she high maintenance?

Peoria stared at her fingernails, loving the way the tiny Austrian crystals glittered on the magenta lacquer.  Sure, great hands required a lot of effort, especially when one abhorred press-on nails, but she paid the manicurists; she grabbed the Emory board at the first hint of a snag; she was the one that sat ever so still while the polish dried to a brilliant shine. Brock was wrong—how could she be high maintenance if she did the maintaining?

Determined to let nothing spoil her day, she stared into the brilliant fall sky and took a cleansing breath. Nothing like the scent of freshly mowed grass to restore one’s equilibrium. Even if that same bit of nature had ruined her new peep-toe pumps. Glancing at her feet, she wondered how much elbow effort she’d need to apply to remove the green from the purple suede.

She hugged her arms around her designer jacket. Anyone with half a brain could tell the pumps were essential to pull off the sophisticated look that made her classic Peoria. No matter—they were just shoes. If her footwear cost more than some people earned in a week, she could sell her soul if she wanted

Besides, high style didn’t necessarily equate to high maintenance. She’d made her blazer with her manicured fingers—the jacket was part of her very own collection. The garment was crafted from recycled cloth so the net cost of her couture look had been a whopping zero dollars. Sure, she could probably auction the jacket and buy a car, but she already owned a car. When she got tired of the coat, she’d sell it and donate the proceeds to charity.

Her car might be a different story. A vintage Camaro required maintenance—a trunkful of T.L.C. So what? She did the maintaining. No one had to do it for her. Well, no one she didn’t pay. Her monthly checks had probably put the mechanic’s kid through medical school, but she’d donned those awful plastic gloves to protect her nails while she applied just the right amount of wax to the custom paint. Her little fingers clicked the keyboard when she needed to scan the web for original muscle-car parts. And if she purchased a diamond-studded gear-shift cover along with the essential fuel pump and a new set of hub caps, that didn’t give anyone, especially Brock, the right to criticize.

Probably best to go home and not think too much. Steer her high-maintenance vehicle back to her place, to the house requiring even more maintenance than her car. If Brock said her house was high maintenance, she’d have nodded her head in agreement. And, thanks to her investment in a top-rated stylist and the routine purchase of expensive shampoo, her hair would have glimmered while she acquiesced.

Every week something else in her classic Victorian needed a tweak. Six days earlier, she’d installed a new furnace. The week before, she’d returned the new mahogany desk to have a drawer repaired. Not once had Brock—who incidentally wouldn’t know an Allen wrench from a tavern wench—helped. Darn man hadn’t even offered.

Her yard required even more blood, sweat, and botched manicures. Even on a good day—maybe especially on a good day—she didn’t even want to think about the effort required to keep the Lawn of the Month sign on her property.

Still, none of the effort she expended made her high maintenance. She might be particular, some might say exceedingly so, but she required little from anyone else. Well, from anyone she didn’t pay. So how could she be high maintainence when she paid her own bills? Why would anyone criticize a woman who did the hard stuff herself?

No, no doubt about it, Brock was wrong.  Dead wrong.

She wasn’t high maintenance. Brock was. Maybe if he’d tried a little harder to maintain their budding relationship, she wouldn’t have to put fresh flowers on his grave every week.


  1. The last twelve words flipped this story around, Robin. My goodness, I'd never have guessed that ending! Very well done!!!

  2. Hooked me at the first sentence, but then, I love snark. Great humor and a bang up finish!

  3. Robin, loved the humor. Great twist ending. You're a terrific short story author. Wish I could paint such a vivid picture with so few words!

  4. He deserved what he got. That'll teach him. Great story, Robin.

  5. Great story, great surprise ending. Loved it, Robin.

  6. Loved the irony --"How could she be high maintenance when she paid her own bills?" -- and the quick twist at the end.