High Maintenance

Posted on by Dave Woodruff

Another new apartment, another new start. That’s the way Emma saw it. Her whole life had been a series of beginnings and endings. Tragically, the betweens didn’t last long. Emma didn’t have any problems attracting men, she was by any account, exceptionally attractive. Beautiful brown eyes, full lips, perfect glowing skin and the kind of thick luxurious hair that always seems to fall into exactly the right place, no matter what angle she would tilt her head. Most other girls envied almost every physical attribute Emma seemed to have without even trying.

She had a good job in a large legal firm. It wasn’t that she was hidden away from men and there was ample opportunity for potential suitors to ask her out. In fact, she got asked out almost everywhere she went. A constant flow of gentleman, and cads who would always be there to buy her drinks, buy her gifts, send flowers, but they never seemed to last for very long. It was as if her love life was just like a parrot, the same few line repeated over and over. First men were there, and then shortly after, they were running away. Sometimes, actually running.

Emma enlisted three male acquaintances to help her move, she met them the night earlier in a bar. They all bought her drinks, she gave them all her number, and they in turn happily agreed to help her move her entire two-bedroom apartment across town. Nobody in this story is a child, nobody is naive enough to think these guys are participating in this exodus of belongings for completely altruistic motives. All three guys think Emma will be so enamored of their gesture of goodwill, they will be the first to be invited into her new apartment bed. Three guys vying for the affections of the undeniably attractive Emma.

It become apparent quickly into the moving process, the effort could very well outweigh the prize. Emma is not exactly a taskmaster, with every request, she give a sweet smile and a flirting hug or gesture, the only problem is, the requests are never-ending and truth be told, completely trite and pointless. Emma asks the first gentlemen to remove each and every sheet from its carefully packed box, open it, shake it out, without any part touching the ground and repack it. It better this way she says, “It’s fresher, and airy.” He complies begrudgingly. Over the next two hours her requests continue along these unusual lines. The boxes must be brought in their exact order. Kitchen items must be cleaned as they are unpacked and then placed in their appropriate places only after the place they will be sitting is cleaned with a disinfectant wipe. Before lunch, one of the gentleman workers decides to have a beer to reduce the grating effect Emma is having on his psyche. When she asks him to throw the bottle in the dumpster across the street so nobody thinks she’s a lush, he does, but he also doesn’t ever come back. This level of lunacy isn’t worth anything.

Emma’s level of freakish high maintenance continues, after asking the second guy to rehang a mirror twelve times to find the perfect angle, he fails to return with his next load from the truck downstairs. The last gentleman goes AWOL from his duties after he is forced to hold color swatches at arms length for over thirty minutes as Emma decides the colors of the guest closet. “A closet color for god’s sake!” is all that runs through his head as he stands, arms aching, wondering if somehow, her sexual prowess could be  worth this torment. In the end… he makes a beeline and she is left sans men, again.

For the life of her, she can’t understand the lack of patience men exhibit. Box by box, item by item, she continues to move her life to her new apartment. After an hour or so, a guy from inside the building appears and asks if she needs any help. Emma is amazed by his attitude, his patience is incredible. He carefully replants each and every houseplant per her request. After all, moving causes the soil to get clumpy. He makes sure the light bulbs are all carefully dusted and of the proper wattage, he personally catalogs and re-stacks all her CD’s and books, alphabetically. And amazingly, without her request, he affixes a new name strip above her mail slot.

At first Emma didn’t find him particularly attractive, but his mannerisms and dedication to her needs became an overpowering aphrodisiac. He intricately explains every detail about the building, its tenants, the pool schedule, the best days to use the laundry room, even the best times to open and close the blinds for both temperature and privacy concerns.

Finally, Emma has met someone who understands her sense of neediness, her quirks and oddities every other guy in the past called high maintenance. Somehow she knows he will fill the coffee pot in the morning, he will remember to take the trash out on trash day, he will always leave the seat down. Rallying the most alluring and seductive manner she can muster, she asks how he has all this intimate knowledge. “I’m the Maintenance Man.” he shrugs. For the first time in her life, Emma feels true love.