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As human beings, there are a lot of things we have love/hate relationships with, and most of them last all of our adult lives, or at least as long as we are cognitively operative. The list is pretty extensive, and I offer just a few suggestions for your perusal: celebrities, politicians (mostly hate), Christmas, TV, computers, clothes, twittering, family reunions, food, fall, our parents, being parents, our spouses, being spouses, being ourselves, etc. etc. etc.

It is a truism that some of the personality traits we love most about our friends and family are also the things that drive us up the wall about them. People love me because I’m honest and outspoken (Right on! I wish I’d said that!), and they hate me because I’m honest and outspoken. (How could you say that? You’re such a jerk!) My kids especially hate it when I give them honest advice. (Are you ever going to quit nagging me about that?

I love being close to my daughter and talking to her on the phone almost daily, but I hate that she is incapable of a five-minute phone call. Any phone call to her must have a pre-arranged hang-up excuse or you will die with the phone in your hand. My son, on the other hand, rarely answers his phone and gives himself a 48-hour window for returning calls. Can we not have a little balance here?

Our relationships with ourselves aren’t really a case of love/hate, but more a state of the-grass-is-always-greener-ism. Somehow, whatever we have, no matter how great, we want something different. If we’re drop dead gorgeous, we want to be respected for our minds. If we’re smart and plain and practical, we want to be chased around the desk. Most of us (women) want to be drop-dead gorgeous, Mensa candidates, great athletes, and Mother Theresa. I used to think like that, but now I just want my short-term memory back and good bladder control.

I would also like my hair back. My hair is something I’ve always had a love/love relationship with because I was blessed with thick, shiny, black hair which I wore long most of my life. Now it is short, but is naturally curly and has always been easy to care for. But a week after I retired in February, I found a bald spot on the top of my head about the size of a golf ball. It has since expanded and I now have a bald-guy comb-over which puts my whole hairdo off-balance. I’m lop-haired. I am applying various remedies, but so far the follicle famine continues.

It’s hard not to take your hair for granted, because after all, it’s just…there; all the time, every day, all your life, it’s there; rain or shine, no matter how much trouble you may think it is, it will be there when you get up in the morning. But when you start to lose it, and you don’t know why, and you don’t know if it will ever come back, you suddenly realize how wonderful it was just to HAVE it – to complain about, to fuss over, to have a bad hair day with ALL of your hair! So, ladies, love your hair. Even when you hate it, love it. Consider life without it, and it will suddenly become an emblem of worship in your sight. I have hair, therefore I am. Yea, verily.

And speaking of hair, whose do we watch more carefully than celebrities? (What was he/she thinking?) And who do we love/hate more than celebrities? We moon over them in movies, devour their books, peal our eyes for them on red carpets, and watch tattle-tale TV shows full of the minutiae of their lives. But we hate their pretentious life styles, their shallowness, their two-minute marriages, their addictions, their plastic surgeries, the obscene amounts of money they make. We think they’re self-centered, egomaniacal and phony, and love to watch them fall from grace. But we continue to follow their careers and watch their shows with appalling adoration. We love hating them. We hate loving them. And we pay them very well for this privilege.

I’ve been in love with Brad Pitt ever since I saw “A River Runs Through It” about 20 years ago. I worship every nuance of his body, and when I see close-ups of his face, I’m done. But I don’t like most of his movies and have no respect for his weird life with weird Angelina Jolie. Nevertheless, I will continue to adore him insofar as his looks hold out – such is the depth of my devotion.

Our love/hate relationships with our parents, spouses, kids and Christmas are exceedingly more complex, and the time/space continuum precludes any further discussion. Suffice it to say that the contrariness of human nature is endlessly fascinating and interesting, prompting the writing of several million books on the subject, which we pounce on with glee, looking for new answers. We’re dying for someone to explain us to us.

The problem is, what was gospel eight years ago is pooh-poohed today and “new studies” continue to evolve, proving that all the previous studies were somehow flawed. The new truth is now gospel. For the moment. Depending on which book you read. All the Oprah sensations that were going to change the way we live, and teach us “The Secret” of the universe didn’t do much to change or enlighten anyone. We’re all waiting for the next book.

I wonder if it will tell me where my hair went.

– Claire Helmers –

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