Immediately after graduating from Harvard last spring, I traded my cap and gown for a business suit. Undeterred by the sinking economy and eager to begin a rewarding career, I accepted a position at my dream workplace. I was an intern, which meant that I had a full-time job that lacked health benefits or a desk chair with wheels.
When my supervisor called me into her office to explain that the multi-million dollar company could no longer endure the fiscal burden of my $8 an hour salary, I was awarded with the distinction of getting fired from a job that I never technically had to begin with.
At first I didn’t tell my girlfriend, Leigh, that I had been laid off. She bought my charade for a few weeks, but eventually my unemployed lifestyle aroused her suspicion. She began to pepper me with questions: “Why did you switch our Netflix subscription from ‘2 DVDs per month’ to ‘Unlimited’? What do you mean you’re selling your car to adopt a Green lifestyle? Why are you growing a beard? Are those Doritos crumbs stuck in it?”
Unable to devise reasonable responses to these inquires, I was left no choice but to admit to Leigh that she was officially dating a deadbeat. To my relief, she was very supportive and explained to me that she knew all along about my firing. Apparently I gave myself away when I suddenly stopped doing little things like combing my hair or going to work.
To my surprise, Leigh hasn’t left me during this “transitional period” of my life where my only source of income in the last four months has been my fantasy football winnings. She has hardly complained about my new lifestyle –an incredible display of patience considering that I now live at home with my parents, where I can have myself a “busy day” simply by taking shower. Women don’t typically date guys whose bedroom is covered in rocking-horse wallpaper, so I feel very fortunate that my relationship has survived.
I attribute my miraculous success in maintaining a relationship to my ability of dating on a budget. Currently men across the nation are faced with the daunting task of keeping their love interest happy during this economic crisis. We understand the importance of spending money on our girlfriends and wives –we have to thank them for settling for us, after all –but suddenly we can no longer afford that $50 bouquet of flowers every time we screw up.
Fortunately, I’ve discovered a number of creative ways to keep a girlfriend satisfied on a light wallet. For instance, I’ll surprise Leigh at work for a midday movie date. She’ll rave about my romantic spontaneity, and putting a smile on her face feels almost as good as the matinee discount. (I initially tried to scratch her movie itch while saving cash by purchasing “The NeverEnding Story”. It was only 97 minutes. What a rip off.)
The outdoors is a prime location for a romantic yet cost-effective date. I treated Leigh to a lovely picnic in the park and she appeared thoroughly impressed with my homemade cuisine. She adored me for cooking for her, and she was oblivious to the fact that the meal didn’t cost me a dime. Evidently the week-old leftovers from my mom’s “Mexican Surprise” had remained appetizing.
I’ve found that dating on a budget forces you to swallow your pride on occasion. It may seem imprudent, but when we are out at clubs I’ll actually allow other guys to buy drinks for Leigh. In fact, I encourage it. “Hey man, I think you might have a shot with that girl over there,” I’ll say. “I overheard her talking about you. She also mentioned that she was craving an Appletini and a Guinness.”
If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a full-time couch potato, it’s that your sense of humor is recession-proof. Humor is free and when a woman is laughing it indicates that she’s enjoying your company and not dwelling on negatives, like how the sour cream in her taco salad tastes a bit funky. I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve been doing a terrific job at using humor to keep my relationship going strong. In fact, just the other day Leigh told me that my life is a big joke.