Friday, November 28, 2008

Sex and Suburbia, High Maintenance

Sex and Suburbia, High Maintenance
By Julie Stankowski

“High Maintenance.” Interesting phrase. Lots of ways to look at it. A High Maintenance car may require being in the shop way too much for your taste. A High Maintenance girlfriend may drive you crazy because all she does is complain about her weight and she is 5’2 and weighs only 100 pounds. A High Maintenance kid may drive you to drink because you cannot turn your back for one second without hearing, “Mommmmmm.” A High Maintenance housekeeper may force you to never want to be in your own house because she doesn’t stop chit-chatting with you and she thinks you are her very best friend rather than her employer. A High Maintenance husband is just, well, a typical guy.

Did you think Carrie Bradshaw and her sexy friends were High Maintenance? Samantha with her botox and chemical peels, lying to Lucy Lui and the sales person at Louis Vuitton (or whatever Madison Avenue store it was) just for a purse, trying to decide if her flavor of the month this month is male or female, agonizing over whether Richard was having an affair to the point where she had to buy a wig and costume to catch him, but then forgive him. Charlotte with her over-the-top my apartment needs to look like Martha Stewart lives and cooks here on a daily basis, I can’t find the perfect Burberry sweater for my perfect dog, Elizabeth Taylor, and for that matter, I can’t find my G spot because I’m too scared to look down there. Miranda with her I love Steve, I don’t love Steve, I love the hot Knicks’ team doctor who lives upstairs, no I love Steve, but I hate his mother and I don’t want to move to Brooklyn, I hate Magda, I don’t hate Magda, I love Steve again drama. And Carrie, my stylish special Carrie who we all know I love and wannabe and who is truly my inspiration, with her should I have sex with the sexy and passionate Big or should I have sex with the studly and manly Aidan or maybe I’ll just have sex with both and oy, should I tell Aidan I cheated on him with Big or should I just go out and buy a new pair of Prada shoes. Let’s face it, Carrie and company needed to look great, dress great, have great sex, have great apartments, have great hair styles, great friends, great boyfriends, great shoes, great accessories, great bodies - - whew - - that all takes a lot of work and would be considered by most “High Maintenance.”

Well, here’s the deal my dear suburban friends, I’m not sure those adorable girls even knew the meaning of High Maintenance. I’m not sure I knew the meaning of High Maintenance until now (I’m 40, married with children and having sex in suburbia). I have come to learn that the phrase High Maintenance has at least two very different definitions. Not quite sure if Webster’s is on board (or if they even define phrases), but I think you’ll agree with me . . .

There’s High Maintenance-Sex and the City: a woman who, in order to feel fabulous, must sleep until 10:00 a.m., have a leisurely decaf nonfat mocha latte while watching Matt Lauer on the Today Show, enjoy a mind-calming yoga class with a super hot instructor followed by a massage and a facial, linger in a hot shower, slip on a Cynthia Rowley sheath dress, share some juicy gossip with celeb-stylist Jose Eber while he gives her a star-studded blow out, meet her girlfriends for lunch and more fab gossip over a Waldorf salad and a very dry martini with three olives, take an afternoon nap after watching her Tivo’d episode of Project Runway, change into her Marc Jacobs evening attire, stroll over to Babbo to meet her bestest friend in the world, the guy we all wish was our best friend (the one who stars in Queer Eye for the Straight Guy), for some delicious al dente pasta and a bottle (or two) of Chianti and then saunter off to Big’s penthouse for a 1:00 a.m. booty call, simply the whipped cream on her Sundae (no pun intended).

Then there’s High Maintenance-Sex and Suburbia: Definition so long it requires four paragraphs:

A woman who, in order to feel fabulous, must wake up at 5:00 a.m. to start her work day as Mom (okay, she can hit snooze 5 times and wake up at 5:35 a.m., but my goodness, it still feels like the middle of the night). She rushes around to get the kids off to school (like a chicken with her head cut off, as if she’s never done this before, and thinks to herself that only a completely pathetic disorganized mom would not have laid out her kids’ clothes and gotten their lunches and backpacks ready the night before and certainly would not have forgotten that the diorama project was due today). She stays in her pajamas, however, since she will have time to shower when she gets home; not many people will see her at drop-off anyway. Oops, on her way home from drop-off, she notices that her gas light is on empty (the light is more like a flashing neon sign reading “you idiot, I’ve been on for two days, you didn’t pay attention and now you must detour, in your pajamas, to the nearest gas station to spend $107.00 to fill up your humungo Escalade). Her gorgeous gyno whom she has always had a secret crush on is, of course, filling up next to her and is chattier and friendlier than ever, all the while she is cringing inside because she’s wearing her raggedy pajamas with smiley faces printed all over them, hasn’t brushed her hair and has no make-up on. She gets through the gas station embarrassment and happily arrives home with three hours to herself to shower and get things done while the kids are in school and her husband is at work.

She goes into her bathroom to take a long, hot shower, excited at the prospect of having time to shave her legs and armpits, put her make-up on and blow dry her hair, a rarity in her job. As she’s stepping into the shower, she gets a quick, unintentional glimpse of herself in the mirror. Not good. She realizes she desperately needs a bikini wax (why didn’t her husband mention that?) and a lip wax and an eyebrow wax. She steps away from the shower and closer to the mirror and is horrified to see she also has hair growing out of her nose, her chin, her chest, her stomach, in between her eyebrows, and actually, her entire face is covered with peach fuzz that seems to have quadrupled in thickness since last night’s face cleansing. When did she go through the reverse Darwinian process of morphing from human to ape? How did this happen and why have none of her close friends mentioned anything, at least about that one long disgusting hair growing out of her neck? I mean it is so rude to let your best friend walk around with spinach between her teeth all day - - isn’t this worse? At this moment, she wishes she could be drinking an iced caffe mocha nonfat vodka valium latte (and maybe she is).

She decides to forgo a shower (being clean and smelling nice is irrelevant if your entire body is covered with hair) and instead calls for an emergency waxing appointment. She gets in her gas-guzzling SUV to go see Atilla the Wax Hun and realizes, as she practically runs a red light, that she must make an appointment with an ophthalmologist because she can’t see as well as she used to. She blasts the car’s air conditioner because she is having her own personal summer. She catches another unintentional glimpse of herself in the rearview mirror and realizes that not only is she as hairy as King Kong, but the hair she is supposed to have on her head is totally thinning and very much gray! She is freaking out, trying to decide what she will do after her wax - - should she try to get into the hair salon or should she try to get into the therapist to get some Prozac? Before having a chance to decide, she’s laying on the table getting her unwanted hair torn off (even getting her nostrils waxed), but luckily, she makes it through her waxing appointment without throwing up. She decides trying to fix her hair may be a better drug than Prozac so she frantically calls her hairdresser for an emergency color and cut, and threatens to cry like a baby in his chair if he does not put in some hair extensions to mask the thinning.

Exhausted and smelly, but proud she has attempted to “maintain” herself, she picks up the kids up at school and continues to perform her mom duties. Once home, she orders Chinese take-out; obviously she didn’t have time to go to the market today. By the time the kids are asleep, she says a quick hello to her husband, lets him know that she had an exhausting day and is going upstairs to relax. No lingerie, no glitz, no glamour, no sex. She grabs a bottle of wine (not a glass, a bottle - - give her a break - - she chose hair over Prozac) and this week’s People magazine, but gets yet another unintentional glimpse of herself in the hallway mirror on the way up (why are there so many damn mirrors?) and realizes she friggin’ needs a manicure, pedicure, body check at the dermatologist, mammogram and pap smear. And decides maybe she won’t go the eye doctor - - maybe if she lets her eyes get worse, she won’t notice all of these imperfections! Finally, at 11:00 p.m., she sits down to watch her Tivo’d Discovery channel show, “How in the hell did I ever get this old - - I am so High Maintenance I can’t even keep up with myself.”

Okay, Carrie and company don’t seem so High Maintenance now, do they? Am I exaggerating? I think not. At this point, maintaining me seems like a full-time job! Seriously! I’m exhausted with me! Internists, gynecologists, endocrinologists, dermatologists, ophthalmologists, boob-smushing mammographers, estheticians, hairdressers, manicurists, blah, blah, blah. It’s too much! Can you hear me? Are you there, God? It’s me, Julie.

So I am writing to Webster’s. I will argue that the phrase High Maintenance should be clearly defined for us all. It should have delineations. Like small, medium and large. Regular or decaf. Mild or spicy. Salt or no salt. Straight up or on the rocks. We need to know where we are and where we’ll end up on the maintenance scale. So we will not ignorantly label ourselves High Maintenance when we’re having single sex in the city and we will not suffer a mouth-opening shock stroke when we’re having married sex in suburbia. In the city, we’ll know that we are “Pebbles in the Manolos High-ish Maintenance.” And in suburbia, we’ll know that we are “Bunions in the Uggs High-est Maintenance.”

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