High Maintenance

Hugo had warned Tom. All his friends warned him. He’d be sorry. She was materialistic, she lived for nice things, her nails had to be perfect and god forbid she’d leave home dressed in non-designer clothes. While they were still dating he had to buy an expensive car because oh no, she could not be seen in that boring Honda. Even his mother told him “she thinks she’s the Queen of Sheba. Find a nice down to earth girl.”

But no matter what they said, it was no use, he stayed the course and married her anyway. And they shook their heads, even at the wedding and they all agreed “he just doesn’t see it.”

Hugo married smart. Susan was dependable, laser focused on her career, laser focused on the children, laser focused on tomorrow. But after 11 years, feeling like he’d been ground down like a cog in her machine, he sought solace somewhere else. And that was the end. And all their friends deserted him. And most of his friends deserted him. And some of his family deserted him. Because Susan was wonderful, and so busy and so sacrificial. And so the victim.

One person that didn’t desert Hugo was Tom. And Juliet, who Tom wasn’t supposed to marry but did anyway, seemingly pissing into the wind. Juliet was still high maintenance, and like Susan was laser focused on her children. But Juliet didn’t give a fig about tomorrow “we could all die in a car wreck let’s live now” and milked her career along without the least stress “I was looking for a job when I found this one”. And she consoled Hugo “what’s done is done, you can’t go back. Besides, she didn’t love you enough you ding dong”. Juliet would still throw the occasional fit if the table was bad or the wine wasn’t right. But she was also one of the kindest people he had ever met. Her materialistic nature did not conflict with her general selflessness, and she never batted an eye about Hugo sleeping in their guest room. In fact the only time she got annoyed was when he tried to pitch in on the grocery bill. “We don’t take money from friends in need”.

There was something else. Something you couldn’t help noticing as a long term house guest. Even with two children their sex life was epic. No room, no piece of furniture, no time of day was off limits. Tom had always gone home for lunch…and now Hugo knew why. Once, while he was staying with them, Tom bought her a new convertible. They spent the next few weeks “breaking it in.”

A few years passed. Hugo was back on his feet and was dating a woman, Amy,  who strangely enough, had a lot in common with Juliet. During one of their frequent visits with Tom and Juliet, Hugo might have drank just one too many and he looked straight at Juliet and blurted out “I’m sorry! I told him not to marry you.”

Juliet broke out laughing “I know, he told me of course.”

He looked at Tom “how did you know? When you were that young, that it would turn out this way? Or was it just dumb luck?”

Tom put his hand on his old friends shoulder. “No luck to it. She loved me above everything else. So none of that other stuff mattered.”

“That’s it? She loved you?”

Juliet piped up ” it was much more than that. I adored him. And I still do”.

Tom cleared his throat and flashed a look at Juliet. She grinned and they both got up. “We’ll be back in a few.”

Amy leaned into Hugo “and I adore YOU. I need some more of that Cab, not the Syrah it’s god awful. And get me a new glass, this one has a water spot.” And right at that moment Hugo was the happiest man in the world.

© Glenn R Keller 2021, All Rights Reserved

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