High Maintenance Woman

Occasionally, someone who no longer wants to be my friend will forward me one of those annoying emails, the ones that have been sent to every email address on earth and are even now probably making their way to computers in distant galaxies.

If you take the time to scroll through those never-ending messages, youíll often find jokes of questionable quality at the end. But recently, when I apparently had nothing else to do, I actually scrolled to the bottom of one of these forwarded follies (enjoying at least two cups of coffee on the way down) and found a couple of pictures that were worth the trip.

One picture showed two simple push buttons, one labeled On and the other Off. The caption on this picture said Men. The other picture showed dozens of buttons, knobs, levers and gauges in a dizzying and complicated array. This one was called Ė you guessed it Ė Women. The obvious implication was that women are a high-maintenance sector of our species.

I thought of that graphic depiction of the differences between the genders a few days later when my husband and I were having one of our regular conversations about access to the master bathroom. Even after many years of marriage, we sometimes have these tense and often high-decibel discussions because my mate refuses to accept the Rule of Triple Reciprocity that has been in place ever since Eve needed more time at the bathing brook than Adam.

The rule says that women get triple the time and space in the bathroom as men. A wise and reasonable man would resign himself to this timeless reality and add a second sink or, better yet, build a whole other bathroom. This would allow the wife of such an admirable man to enjoy her God-given right to leisurely bask in the boudoir.

An unwise and unreasonable man, a man whose picture is placed next to the word cheapskate in the dictionary, would insist on sticking with a solitary sink and shower, brutally throwing a monkey wrench into the convoluted process that is necessary to keep his wife looking like her lovely self.

Over the years, Iíve developed a highly effective, multi-step system for getting ready every morning. Each phase in this process is divided into a series of tasks, and each task is absolutely essential to achieving the goal of rendering me fit to face the world. Phase 1 is taking a shower. While a man might think this is a simple procedure involving a bar of soap and minimal scrubbing, such a man would be wrong. A womanís shower ritual requires numerous wash cloths, loofah, pumice stone, fruity face soap, vitamin-enhanced shampoo, herbal-infused conditioner and, of course, honeysuckle shaving cream. A womanís shower, especially my shower, cannot be rushed.

Phase 2 Ė the after-shower Ė includes putting on various lotions and oils designed to soften, smooth and perfume my newly cleaned and conditioned body. That leads directly into Phase 3, when I momentarily leave the bathroom and enter my closet to decide what to wear. Itís usually during this phase that my husband, employing guerilla warfare tactics, sneaks into the bathroom and jumps into the shower, rapidly steaming up the place and fogging the mirror.

This threatens to stall Phase 4 Ė the application of makeup Ė and usually leads me to lovingly suggest that my manís allotted 30 seconds has elapsed, and he should exit the premises without further delay.

Thatís when things get dicey. The timing between Phase 4 and Phase 5 -- the all-important, multi-appliance hair-styling step Ė is crucial. Any kind of unexpected setback, such as if my husband turns stubborn and stays in the shower, means that my hair will fail to achieve the desired fullness, and I will be cruelly condemned to a Bad Hair Day.

A Bad Hair Day wipes out all of my hard work and leaves me grouchy as a grizzly. Iím a high-maintenance mamma bear who needs her own bathroom. Maybe someday, Iíll get it.

~  © Jackie Papandrew 2007 ~

Jackie Papandrew is an award-winning writer, syndicated humor columnist, coffee addict and mom to a motley crew of children and pets who provide a steady stream of column ideas and dirt. She's also wife to a very patient man who had no idea, years ago when he still had time to escape, what he was getting himself into. Visit her website at:  JackiePapandrew.com