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by SixFigureStart | February 23, 2009


Okay, so I could have picked up the laundry, I could have dealt with the recycling piling up in the kitchen, I could have bought a tarp for the air conditioner so it doesn?t rust sitting outside on the porch. But I didn?t. That?s right: I chose not to do the three things my lady asked me to do. Time slipped away, I claimed, when she asked what the hell I?d done all day. Through repeated questioning, I maintained my innocence, highlighting all of the ?important? networking calls I had made. But between us, dear reader, the truth is I was in my giraffe boxer shorts most of the day talking to my ?important? contacts about my upcoming ski trip. And what did my lady do all day? You guessed it: She went to work.

In the current recession, depression, economic contraction?whatever you want to call this mess?80% of the jobs lost have been those held by men. More than 2 million men are newly out of work. Now women make up over 49% of the workforce and, given further expected layoffs in construction, manufacturing and, yes finance, women are poised to represent a majority of the nation?s workers for the first time ever. The only industry growing for men is Mr. Moms.

While I try to maintain a calm, cool and collected exterior by proclaiming that I can be patient and wait out the downturn, the truth is that I am financially stressed. I support three kids, two women (Not that they would ever admit it. If this is my last post you will know why.) and one gecko. My kids live in a big suburban house with their stay-at-home mom, financed by the child support and alimony I pay. My place in the city needs to be big enough for the kids when they visit and nice enough for me and my lady to enjoy the rest of the time. The gecko needs live crickets.

All that pressure is bad enough; to give me a list of household chores is another reminder of my tenuous role as the great male provider. In fact, the last time I got a daily list of chores was when I was living at home as a teenager. Treat me like a teenager, it?s a teenager you get. So I hope you can understand why I might not want to deal with the f@#%ing recycling.

Since I was only laid off in December, I am the newest member of the He-Man?s Unemployment Club. TJ has been unemployed for a year and half, Roberto for nine months and Hal for seven. For many Wall Street men, the pay had been good enough that they could be the sole breadwinner and let the missus stay home with the kids. I wanted to know from the other He-Men how their relationships were being impacted by unemployment, and how to manage my new taskmaster. We had all seen a news story about a stay-at-home Wall Street wife divorcing her unemployed husband because he couldn?t deliver coin anymore. The zinger was that she held up her end of the bargain, why couldn?t he? Ouch.

TJ was adamant that I had to nip any concept of being a man-servant in the bud. ASAP.

?You did the right thing,? he said. ?You can?t give in or it?s all over. You?ll be doing the ironing next. Man-up and never surrender.?

Hal is more concerned that his wife has not gotten the new financial reality through her head and has asked her to itemize every expense.

?She doesn?t realize that all the Starbucks soy lattes, smoothies and artisanal cheese add up. She thinks it?s just the big things like vacations and dinners out that cost money. I bet she could cut out well over $150 a week if she really thought about it.?

Roberto, who has taken up space in a temporary office, has chosen a more passive aggressive approach.

?I can?t have that conversation anymore. I have started to bring a coffee thermos to my office now. I intentionally make a lot of noise making the coffee in the morning and make sure she sees me doing it. To really hammer the point in I took some leftovers for lunch the other day. I know that she has the kids look out the window and wave to me when I am outside my building. So I looked up, waved back and as soon as I turned the corner I found a garbage can to dump the leftovers. Pathetic?but it has been effective.?

After the club meeting ended, I resolved to speak with both my ex and my lady about finances (the gecko will be a harder conversation). To my great surprise, my ex has agreed to some temporary relief in child support and alimony payments. At home, my girlfriend has been more than understanding, and we have cut out spending on almost all non essential items. She packs her lunch most days and has traded Starbucks for breakfast at home. As for me, if I am asking the ladies to rein in the spending, well, I guess I can swallow my pride and pick up an iron.

--Posted by Joe the Trader,

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