Every Saturday, we get our favorite writers to throw a guest article together, while we pass out somewhere outside and sleep the weekend away. Today, we have Lia and Nick Romeo from ThingsToBeMiserableAbout.com. Not only do they run that blog, but they also have a book, 11,002 Things to be Miserable About. Want a copy? Find out how at the end of the article!
We all hate home foreclosures, rising unemployment rates and Wall Street CEOs bitching about how tough it's going to be to afford chauffeurs and summer homes on $500,000 salaries.
But it turns out that the recession has also had some less-heralded--but possibly even more depressing--effects. Like these.
Since the recession began, workers at the Spam plant in Austin, Texas have been putting in overtime, churning out batches of the pink, glistening, vaguely meat-like substance with "a mere hint of sodium nitrite" for the millions of Americans who can no longer afford real meat.
The disturbing surge in the sales and consumption of Spam is part of a larger trend, in which people are choosing cheaper--and generally more fattening--food (or vaguely food-like) products, and packing on what media outlets are cutely calling "recession pounds." McDonald's sales are up, even as privately owned restaurants fail right and left, and Americans--3.8 million of whom already weigh over 300 pounds--are getting even fatter.
In fact, one study estimates that a 10 percent increase in the poverty rate would lead to a six percent increase in the obesity rate. Just what we need.
Well, there's always plastic surgery, right?
Not during the recession. For most Americans, the option of having that extra fat vacuumed out of their thighs has gone the way of new clothes, Caribbean vacations and being able to retire before they're 85 or so.
Rates of lipo, as well as rhinoplasty, boob jobs, Botox and all those other little enhancements that make it possible to look at our neighbors--and ourselves--without grimacing, are down. Way down. In plastic surgery hub Orange County, business has dropped 30-40 percent. Keep in mind, this doesn't affect the country club wives who get new boobs because they're bored. That 30 percent is coming out of the middle class. The folks who've been saving up to have the goiter removed so they don't cause children to run screaming from the room. And what about the plastic surgeons?
And if you can't get depressed about a drop in plastic surgery, in an unrelated but also uglifying trend, ever since the economy tanked, men, for some unexplained reason, have been much more likely to grow bushy facial hair. Yes, that's right, beards are back. Maybe men are trying to protect themselves-- metaphorically--from all the turmoil out there. Or maybe they're just too depressed to shave.
OK, so you're out at the local bar, and all you can see are fat, hairy people everywhere. This is where a set of beer goggles would really come in handy, right? (At least 'til tomorrow morning, when you have to attempt to tiptoe out the door without waking the Bigfoot look-alike you spent the night with).
Early in the recession (you remember--back before the government actually admitted there was a recession), the media touted beer as "recession-proof." After all, beer ranks right up there with pizza, sex and more beer in Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Surely people would still buy alcohol ... no matter how bad things got.
Spending on Valentine's Day gifts went down about 17 percent this year, and while there's no hard data on how that translated in the bedroom, we're guessing cheap wine and carnations were considerably less likely to inspire kinky--or even non-kinky--Valentine's Day sex than, say, a three liter bottle of Dom Perignon sheathed in white gold (retail price: around $24,000).
Hard data. Get it? Yes?
And financial woes are taking a toll on dating and relationships the rest of the year, too. According to a recent poll, 35 percent of Americans are less likely to go on dates given the recession, and when they do go out, 39 percent are likely to spend less.
Married? The news is even worse. 43 percent of U.S. couples say the recession makes them argue more often. And there's not even any light at the end of the tunnel (and by light at the end of the tunnel, we mean the possibility of ditching that hairy bastard/flat-chested shrew you're stuck with and running off with your young, tan, well-oiled secretary/personal trainer). Over one third of Americans who want to get divorced are likely to postpone doing so for financial reasons.
Another traditionally "recession-proof" industry?
After all, there's nothing like a good money shot to cheer you up when you don't have any actual, you know, money.
But at present, the porn industry is suffering as well. DVD sales are down, and porn emporiums are closing. So even if you can still afford porn, you might not be able to find it (at least there's always the Internet).
Perhaps the worst part? The puns. Exhibit A: articles like this one, which manages to get in: "porn goes soft," "porn has gone limp," "the porn business has suddenly gone flaccid," and "shriveled in terms of revenue."
Given all of the above, perhaps it's not all that surprising that more people are contemplating:
For L.A.'s busiest hotline, calls have surged 60 percent over the past year, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is getting about 50,000 calls a month (compared to 37,000 last year).
Suicide rates skyrocketed during the Great Depression, and some experts are concerned that that current recession will bring about a similar effect.
But come on, people. It's only money. Well, that, and your home, and your sense of self-worth, which you derived from the stupid job that you hated but that you now look back on with nostalgia, even for your coworker with foot fungus who liked to cut his toenails in the office, and your health insurance, and the possibility of ever going back to that beach in Bermuda where you and your wife/your husband/a really attractive stranger had sex on the sand right at the edge of the water, and it was mad and passionate, and thus the possibility of you and your wife/your husband/a really attractive stranger ever having sex that's equally mad and passionate again, especially since you haven't gone on a date in months since you can't afford to pay for a babysitter--or for a restaurant, and your kids' college funds, and your retirement.
Sales aren't down in everything.
Surely all of that's not worth contemplating suicide.
Lia Romeo and Nick Romeo are the authors of the humor book 11,002 Things to Be Miserable About and the humor blog ThingsToBeMiserableAbout.com. Want a copy of the book? Leave your own "thing to be miserable about" down in the comments. Nick and Lia will go through, pick their five favorites, and those five people will get free books! Totally free! Holy shit! Be as funny and as depressing as you can manage. Winners will be announced right after this sentence...
BIG UPDATE- WINNERS ANNOUNCED! Congrats to the winners, reprinted below:
"It's not all bad. I'm still a hitman-pirate-ninja-astronaut-lumberjack and nobody can take that away from me. NOBODY. Except that nobody can afford to pay for hits, there's no booty to be plundered in a way that wouldn't result in an STD, no sneaky underhanded plots to steal riches using cool ninja-stars, not enough money to buy rocket fuel to get anywhere past the moon (and that's boring. we already did that.), and trees are offing themselves because of the recession...so basically...yeah, I'm pretty much out of work too." by Sofakinsikman
"Based on accounts from The Great Depression, families living in the slums, before the comparative safety of unemployment benefits, would be forced to eat the family pet after it was given a quick blanching in the copper broiler. The depressing part of this story is of course the death of the beloved 'Pookie'. It does have a lighter side, however, for those of you who lament the huge number of 'Christmas pets' who get dumped at animal shelters around New Years. The second downside to consider, however, is that in times of economic slump it is counter-productive to stint further on goods and services, thus reducing cash-flow, and in this case that would be...the turkey dinner. Apologies to vegetarians. "by Nic
"Being informed you have gangrene of the penis and / or testicles and that they will have to be removed...and that it is going to cost you because you were 'downsized' and don't have health insurance. That's right, you must pay to be castrated."
I love being Canadian! by Tunikidya
"Here's my thing to be miserable about. At my job, everyone but me and one other coworker were laid off, BUT I was downgraded to part time, meaning I can't afford to pay the bills and no will possibly need to move back in with my parents. Oh, and the last job I applied for, I was one of 300 applicants. I don't think I'll get it. So now I am burdened with the financial hardships of being laid-off, but the extra burden of survivor's guilt. Whenever I complain about not having any money (and not being able to pay the gas bill) my stupid friend interjects, "Well, at least you still have a job." Yeah, just enough to be unable to collect unemployment. Thanks boss." by Roland314
"The really depressing thing? We have to post depressing comments that will make us depressed just to get a book. If you win that book, its subject matter will make you more depressed due to the content matter. If you DON'T win it, then you become even more depressed due to not winning a book that will make you more depressed Cracked: Hosting depressing contests since March 14th, 2009 (PS Yes, this is an entry. Now excuse me while I go look at the bunny upstairs to undepress myself)" by lcalasari If you won, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll send you a free copy of 11,002 Things to be Miserable About!