Lemonade or: How to Enjoy Your Layoff Without Really Trying

To live exhilaratingly in and for the moment is deadly serious work, fun of the most exhausting sort.

~ Barbara Grizzuti Harrison

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

~ Dale Carnegie

~ Forrest Gump

~ Grandma

~ ?

Yep.

I’m still around.

You can breathe now . . .

I bet you nearly passed out when you saw a new post from His Cheekiness pop up in your reader.

“Holy crap!” you cried, blinking your eyes, or perhaps rubbing them with your balled up hands, for surely you thought they were playing tricks on you.

(Me? I’m trying to figure out why Word keeps wanting me to change your to you’re in that last sentence. I want to scream, “I know what I’m doing, you persnickety piece of crap! I’m an ENGLISH MAJOR, for chrissake! [right click, Ignore Once] “Take THAT!!”)

Anyway . . .

Here I am!

With a list!

And pictures!

So “reach up there and pull those seats belts tight on more time!”

Boogity, Boogity, Boogity! Let’s go racing, boys!

(Some people really hate that line . . . but, HEY! ‘Tis the season . . . and it’s MY blog, dammit . . . )

HOW TO ENJOY YOUR LAYOFF WITHOUT REALLY TRYING

1. Dance with the One Who Brung Ya

Especially if it’s your eight-year-old daughter and the event is the annual Girl Scout Father Daughter Dance.

This will, of course, require a trip to Kohl’s for a shirt and tie that matches the cute little purple dress she thinks she wants to wear. But when you can’t really find anything that looks swell next to that particular shade of purple, and she grows weary of telling you “Just pick one already!” you’ll have to go to Plan B and look for a new dress. This will probably take TWO HOURS or so, and will place you in the uncomfortable position of having to ask a complete stranger, the uppity woman who keeps looking at you funny, “Does this look alright? Is it cute? Too provocative? Will it be warm enough? Am I bothering you?”

Eventually, some frazzled-sounding lady will announce over the PA that the store will be closing in twenty minutes . . . so hurry the f*** up! Yeah YOU!! In the girl’s department!!! Harassing the other customers!!!! Pick something and GET the HELL OUTTA HERE!!!!!” You’ll swear to the gods that you will never take your daughter shopping by yourself again . . .

. . . even as you pat yourself on the back for picking such a cute outfit. You’ll dance the night away with the most beautiful girl in the place . . .

. . . doing the Chicken Dance, or The Locomotion, and YMCA (twice!). You’ll watch her and smile as she does The Limbo Rock . . .

. . . and then, even though she’s getting too big for it, you’ll pick her up and do one last slow dance . . .

. . . fighting back tears, choking on the lump in your throat. You’ll be amazed at how quickly it all goes by . . .

2. Go on a Double Date

There’s no better opportunity for this than Valentine’s Day. And there’s no one cooler to ask along, besides your wife, than your fifteen-year-old son and his girlfriend. It’s your chance to teach him how to properly take a girl out and make her feel special.

First, make a quick stop at Wal-Mart for a last-minute bouquet of flowers and box of chocolates; it’s all fresh, for the most part, and clearance-priced to move quickly! And while you’re there, be sure he gets a new belt, since he probably lost the one he had and keeps hiking his pants up. That just looks silly!

Then, after another quick stop, this time at Guitar Center for a new strap for his acoustic and some new strings, make your way carefully along the busiest street in town to the mall. There you’ll find Red Robin, his favorite restaurant. They don’t take reservations, so you’ll only have to wait about thirty minutes. You’ll pull him aside and tell him that’s plenty of time for them to sit in the crowded entryway, hold hands, and stare deeply into one another’s eyes. Whisper sweet-nothings while they wait. He’ll look at you weird.

And, since there’s a Barnes & Noble right around the corner, you can sneak away while they’re not looking and buy a book, just in case things get boring. Your wife will roll her eyes at how predictable you are.

Once you’ve got a table, order a round of Bottomless Freckled Lemonades and the Towering Onion Rings. Be sure they say cheese . . .

. . . especially when you convince them to sit for some professional portraits at The Picture People. Tell them, in your best calm yet demanding tone, “I’m paying for all this, dammit, so you’ll smile when I say smile!” They’ll probably think you’re crazy, beg to be let loose to run around the mall and shop at the cool stores like Hot Topic, but they will say cheese . . .

. . . and you’ll buy an 8×10 of that one because, well, it’s just so darn awesome. Even they’ll agree that they look really good. And then they’ll disappear until closing time. You’ll hold your wife’s hand and not tell her that you feel really old.

For a nightcap dessert, you’ll swing by DeBrand for some real chocolate . . .

. . . because your wife will kill you if she doesn’t get some real chocolate . . . NOW! . . . and then try not to stare into the rearview mirror too much as you take your son’s girlfriend back home. You’ll fight the urge to tap your wife’s shoulder and give her the wink-and-nod. You’ll know you done good when you find out the next day that she told her mom she felt like she was walking on clouds all night long. You still got it, big guy . . .

3. Attend a Sporting Event

Fret not that you live in a smallish Midwest town where there are no big-time franchises. Instead, content yourself with a evening watching the NBA D-league Mad Ants! Your nine-year-old son’s Cub Scout pack will decide to attend Scout Night, where he and his fellow Tigers, Wolves, Bears and Webelos will get to take the court and give the up-and-coming players high-fives . . .

. . . and then suffer through a night filled with bobbled passes, poorly-timed alley-oops, and lopsided final scores . . .

But who cares! He’ll learn about setting picks, stuff his face with overpriced nachos and pizza, ooh and ahh and OUCH! his way through a disturbing halftime show . . .

. . . spend a few hours banging thunder sticks with a good friend. . .

. . . and make some new ones.

The Madam Ants, they are called, and he’ll swear you made him pose for this one. But he’d be lying!

4. Remodel Something

Since you’re laid off, you’ll probably find that you suddenly have way too much time on your hands. And your home office? That little corner of the world you call yours, even though you share it with your wife? And the kids? And the dogs? That crowded, high-traffic cubicle where you make the blog magic happen? Yeah. It’s become way too cramped. So you might decide that your wife can have the entire room to herself . . .

She can scrapbook in peace! Have room to stretch out! Watch Grey’s Anatomy without your witty commentary!

Meanwhile, you can buy some new bookshelves . . .

. . . lug everything upstairs to that side of the large master bedroom that never gets used, buy some paint, and create your own space . . .

. . . where people still won’t leave you alone. But you won’t complain . . . too much. You’ll enjoy the room to move, and the fact that all of your books now have homes on shelves instead of in boxes stacked in the corner. You might find that you’ve become so organized that the only thing left to do is . . .

5. Hug Your Wife . . . Often.

. . . because she is your bestest buddy ever, and puts up with all your crazy shit. She eats the cookies you bake with your daughter . . .

. . . and believes in you no matter how whacky you are. If your wife is like mine, she makes living fun. And, despite all the lemons, there’s no drink sweeter than that . . .

[top photo credit]

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32 thoughts on “Lemonade or: How to Enjoy Your Layoff Without Really Trying

    • Thanks, Nancy. It was a ton of work, but lots of fun. That part of our room has been sitting empty, or collecting junk, for about five years. For about two of those, I’ve been wanting to do something like this. The only part that sort of stinks is how many times a day I now have to climb the stairs . . .

  1. This post made me smile. And cry (the daddy daughter dance). And feel much better about you. I would be spending my layoff eating ice cream and crying. You’re kicking your layoff’s ASS!

  2. Good to see you looking on the bright side and enjoying those babies. That’s what it’s really all about anyway.

    Also interesting to find an English Major who knows what “boogity, boogity, boogity…. lets go racing boys” references. We’re an odd lot, us Hoosiers.

      • Oh, no, say it isn’t so….. I’m off to cancel my Cheek of God feed. Jimmie Johnson??? Two phallic names in one man? Think his parents were trying to tell us something? (Just some teasing there 😉

        I live in the hell that is South Florida though I will always be a Hoosier. True Hoosiers have only one driver: Tony Stewart. Your turn to throw insults and cancel your Random Wonder feed.

        The Nascar gauntlet is thrown.

        • Truth be told, Tony totally fits my personality better than Jimmie. Jimmie is just too much of a good boy, all aw-shucks and golly-gee. But to root for Tony openly, while he was still sponsored by Home Depot, would have caused great familial turmoil. Now that he’s on his own . . . I can see myself sporting a #14 cap. Just not around my sister . . .

  3. I can’t believe how productive you’ve been! Men all over the world would hate you if they read this, you know. My husband, especially, because right now I’m very upset with him. Coming off a week of vacation, and I don’t know of a single thing he actually accomplished around here! Lazy bum! ha!

    I can’t think of a better way to enjoy a not so positive situation like a lay off than to take advantage of the time and enjoy every activity with your kids that you can possibly squeeze into it! With your wife, as well… of course!

    Oh, and tell the kid if he wants even more “madame ants” around him in the future, he’s gotta stop shooting them in his art!

    • Truth be told, I am enjoying the opportunity to catch up. I even dragged my oldest son to my philosophy class the other night. He thought he’d hate it, but ended up loving the conversation and joining in.

      Beefcake claims he “hated” the cheerleaders, but while I was away getting the grub, he and his friend took probably 10 pictures of them performing on the court. Ha!

  4. I’m so happy to hear that you’re doing well, enjoying the family, and making the best of your time away from work.

    The pictures are all adorable (don’t tell your sons I used that word!). Thanks for sharing those with us. Keep up the positive attitude, and things will turn around. Maybe there’s no causation there, but it can’t hurt, right?

    Peace – D

  5. I’m so jealous of number 4. Someday…

    Way to make lemonade…you’re a role model for all of us who find ourselves in less than ideal situations.

    (And thanks for the recommendation re. the badge — now if only I had any graphic design skills! Seriously, I’ll give it some thought. Good idea!)

  6. Great post and great advice. All of them looked most fun and productive, but the remodeling is definitely the one that stands out as the most impressive. Well, that and treating your girls to a fabulous date and chocolates.

  7. Awww! The father-daughter dance got me. Great photos and holy guacamole have you been busy. I think you have definitely earned the Pater Ex Animo badge. Esp. with the Valentine’s Day photo session. Now THAT took some doing, and what a great experience for them. Good on ya, man!!

  8. You have a wonderful attitude. I like that you’re finding the blessings in your situation. Great photo of your son and his girlfriend. I LOVE his red hair! Your entire family – a good lookin’ bunch!

    I couldn’t watch Rubber Boy – gave me the willies.

    You’re doing great. Still sending you good juju…

  9. The best thing about this is that your family is going to remember the time Daddy was out of work as a positive time. Way to go on keeping their lives normal and stress-free! The dance pic is darling!

  10. Not to go all crazy, but I frakkin’ LOVE that yellow color. And how cool is it that your teenage son and his girlfriend were willing to spend Valentine’s Day with you? There is no way I would have done that in high school. No way at all. Then again, I was a little snot in high school, and never dated at all.

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