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Unemployed: My View

By Doug Taylor · November 18th, 2009 · Living Out Loud
I’m Lucy Plum’s boyfriend. Some weeks ago, you got to read her story in this space about being unemployed. It’s a difficult, if not devastating, situation to be in.

I was there for almost two years, and she put up with me, and I’ve been trying my best to put up with her. Neither side is a bed of roses. Sometimes it’s a bunch of thorns.

Men and women are different, in more ways than lipstick and boxer shorts. Luckily, Lucy and I are similar in many ways. We both love to work and be busy, we both love to cook, we were in similar industries when we first met and we were and are basket cases when there is not a compelling reason to get out of bed in the morning.

But Lucy is obsessive/compulsive whereas I’m a deliberate, calm human being.

My unemployment came about not unexpectedly but was still a harsh slap up side the head.

I owned my own business, fell into tough times, had an “angel” that was going to lead me to the Promised Land and ended up screwing me, without the proverbial kiss.

I wasn’t worried; I had lots of friends and contacts in my chosen industry and knew that I would be working in a week or two. Didn’t happen.

For the first few weeks, I played it cool, as did Lucy with me. “Yes, honey, it will work out. We will be fine.”

After my unemployment benefits evaporated, I became just as Lucy has become. I didn’t leave the house. I woke up long enough to check the employment Web sites, watched all of the Law and Order television I could find (Lucy is a Lifetime Network chic) and took a shower once a week or so whether I needed it or not.

Don’t get me wrong, Lucy is a wonderful person, but she’s a female, a synonym for not always having both oars in the pond.

Me? I’m a little like the almost expired round steak at Kroger in the cheap meat aisle.

At least at Kroger, you know what you get when you pick it up. With my sweetheart, every morning when I wake up, every day when I walk in the door, I don’t know who or what will be staring me in the eye. In many ways, that’s what makes life interesting.

The challenge is how to communicate. Do I ask, “How was your day, honey?” The answer might be OK, alright, terrible or a sudden onset of copious tears. It’s the latter that I fear. How do I show my love and compassion, my concern and devotion?

Over the past three months, I’ve learned there is no answer. I am a “had lad” no matter what I do. What I’ve found to do to protect our relationship and not wake up dead is to say, “Hello, honey, I’ve missed you today. I’m glad I’m home with you.”

Unfortunately (or fortunately), she’s a very bright woman and sees through my weak attempt at trying to curry her favor. She remains fixated on her computer or current Lifetime movie and puts her hand up in a pausing motion to indicate for me to wait until her obligation is complete.

It’s a little off-putting at times, but I’ve been there and understand her anxiety, frustration and anger. I know the anger is not because of me, but I’m the closest person to vent on. That’s how relationships work; you take the crap flung at you along with the kisses lovingly bestowed. Living with an unemployed female who not only wants to work but also needs to work to maintain some modicum of sanity requires all the guile that God has given man.

My prescription to deal with the unemployed partner you love is as simple as it is convoluted.

On Sunday, remind them to fill out their unemployment benefit form online, or be a good guy and offer to do it for them. After all, if they’re on unemployment, it is the only two minutes a week that they have to work, so help them out.

On Monday, smile and recognize it’s the beginning of a new week and new hope and opportunity.

Tuesday is a pass day, since all the people you sent applications to on Monday are just now reviewing them.

Wednesday is the middle of the week; better days are coming.

On Thursday, I have a female friend of ours call her and talk about what’s going on in her life and try to show Lucy that our life is not as wrought with distress as it well could be.

On Friday, we go to happy hour and I listen about how next week will be better. Oh Lord, I hope so, for both of us.

Reality is we’re surviving, thriving and, most of all, still finding time to enjoy each other. Lucy Plum’s time will come — she’s very good at what she does — and someday soon, I’m confident I’ll come home and she’ll be waiting for me wrapped in a lovely shade of Saran Wrap. That will tell me she’s found that elusive job.

Until that happens, I have the knives locked up.

CONTACT DOUG TAYLOR: letters@citybeat.com



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