by Sean McConeghy

Staten Island, NY – Erin McDougal’s friends were stunned this weekend when she walked into her sweet sixteen birthday party wearing the same dress she had worn at a similar event just two months earlier. Jaws dropped, heads turned away, and McDougal’s face turned bright red because nobody was quite sure how such a disgraceful and humiliating scene could happen in their hometown. One mother in attendance pulled the girl aside to ask whether she wanted her to report the incident to the local authorities, but Erin declined, stating that she had already suffered enough without having more attention drawn to the event.

Erin’s humiliation went viral through tweets and Facebook status updates from those in attendance, and mockers and sympathizers alike all had something to say. One of her classmates, who asked not to be named, said, “I can’t believe this could happen. I mean, Erin was my best friend, and she totally shows up in the same dress that she had on like six weeks ago at another best friend’s sweet sixteen?! I mean, OMG.”

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After being humiliated on Facebook and Twitter for wearing the same dress twice, Erin McDougal faced an uncertain future. Luckily, a Good Samaritan came to her aid.

Other reactions were more sympathetic.  One Twitter post said “I had no idea things were so bad for her. How could this happen in our suburb? SMH.”

When reached for comment, Erin’s father Tim said that he was ashamed to let her go in that dress, but he didn’t have much choice. “We didn’t want to tell her that she couldn’t have a party, but we had already spent over $1,000 on new dresses for other events. With her prom coming up and both my wife and I already working two jobs each, we had to make a decision. We knew it would be tough on her, but what choice did we have?”

Erin herself was quite devastated by the whole thing.  She posted a flip-card video on YouTube, saying that her parents just didn’t work hard enough, and that at one point they had even suggested she get a job if she wanted a new dress for every party. She went on to explain that she could never do such a thing because all her friends would see her working, and that would be even more embarassing than wearing the same dress.

Fortunately, this story had a happy ending. Upon seeing a Pinterest meme mocking Erin, Stephanie Milton, who lives hundreds of miles away in Dayton, Ohio, decided that it was time to take action.  Stephanie started an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to ensure that Erin would never again have to endure such a plight. She has raised $8,000 so far and is hoping to hit at least $10,000. “I can’t think of any cause more important than keeping this young girl from ever having to endure something like that again,” she said.

Sean McConeghy has spent most of the last decade traveling around the world, mostly teaching to support that occupation. He’s currently in Honduras starting his own business. He is working toward his Rhett Butler moment when he can say to his former life, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” See more at: http://downsizedlivingmag.com/Meals-Become-Awkward.html#sthash.mKCt5XLT.dpuf

All Downsized Living blog posts are fictitious and satirical. Any resemblance to real persons is coincidental and unintentional.

Photo credit: iStock

by Jorja Hudson

So you’ve fallen on hard times. The economy is bad and you figure that excuse will do for at least another couple years. Your family and friends have been very supportive since that social media marketing job fell through.

At first, you appreciated the discount store gift cards and homemade soup. But you are used to a higher standard of living. So buck up, there’s no reason upward mobility has to end with your job loss. Up the ante on all those kind souls and get them to pony up a bit more. After all, you can be a choosy beggar. Here’s how:

First of all, avoid your closest friends. They’ve seen you at your most desperate and know you’ll settle for a watery cup of coffee. Instead, contact friends you haven’t seen in many years–even Billy from fifth-grade gym class, who, haltingly on the phone, can barely remember you–they don’t know the intricate details of your sad existence.

Arrange to meet Janet or Chubby at your favorite cafe. As you stand in line, scuffle through your purse or jeans pocket and sigh that you unwittingly left your wallet at home. They’re nice folks–they’ll offer to spot you. Thank them, then mention your dietary preference for soy milk, your love of hazelnuts, and the long night ahead of you. Before you know it, you’re listening to Janet’s harrowing tales of accounting while you sip your free hazelnut soy latte.

Once you’ve exhausted your old friends, start on your family. The good thing is, the complex nature of today’s families expands your range of possibilities. You have your former stepmother’s third cousin once removed. The in-laws of your father’s new family. Your half-brother’s ex-wife. Call them. Get to know them. Remind them of the family reunion you once saw them at even if you were never there. Keep trying. Before you know it, you’ll be sleeping in the guest rooms of some of your more well-heeled relations and maybe even invited to go with them to their vacation home in Maui.

And while you’re making the rounds of friends and family, you don’t have to settle for twelve-pack chicken breasts and processed food from a supermarket. As everyone knows, you are what you eat. If you were earning real money, you’d be eating Brie and sustainably-raised organic vegetables from a gourmet natural foods store. Next time at a family dinner, pretend to faint. Tell mom you’ve developed low blood sugar, weight loss, or a gluten allergy. Your mother will quickly transform her love for you into the form of antioxidant-powered smoothies, whole-wheat penne, and grass-fed beef.

Keep in mind the inevitable–after awhile you’re going to wear out your welcome. So keep reminding friends and family about the 500 resumes you sent out, even if you never got a call back. Let them know about that interview that’s in the pipeline even though you only got an automated e-mail saying your resume was received.

And tell them that the next job is just around the corner. Then tell yourself that. The next job is just around the corner. It is.

Jorja Hudson is a writer from London with a background in film. She lives in New York and studies sketch comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade. Her work can be seen on www.jorjahudsonportfolio.com and @jorjasmic.

All Downsized Living blog posts are fictitious and satirical. Any resemblance to real persons is coincidental and unintentional.

Photo credit: iStock

Burger Chain Triage

July 16, 2013

by Nancy Redman

One day I cut my finger chopping onions. Alarmed at the resulting geyser of blood, I was faced with imminent danger and the necessity of finding the nearest emergency room.

But posted outside the closed emergency room in Brooklyn, there was a sign.

  1. Emergency room cutbacks have forced us to make significant changes in policy.
  2. Emergencies now require appointments.
  3. Scheduled appointments must be made one day in advance.
  4. We are open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  5. Many emergency rooms, including this one, are merging with fast-food chains.
  6. If you show up without an appointment, you must go to the Burger King on Fulton Street where our medical interns and resident doctors will take your meal order along with your blood pressure, temperature, and blood work. Burger King has a triage and cots if you need to stay overnight.
  7. This is a statewide change of policy.
  8. Sorry for the inconvenience.

I took the bus to the hospital’s affiliated Burger King Medical Center and approached a young intern at the cashier.

Excuse me, I said, holding my bleeding finger. I have an emergency.

The intern said, Would you like fries with your emergency?

No, I said. Is there someone who can stop this bleeding?

Yes, he said. But we have to take your order first in order for you to receive medical care. It is our policy.

I said, okay, I’ll have a burger and a coke.

Good, he said. That will be fifty dollars.

Fifty dollars?

Yes, he said. There is a minimum charge.

I have insurance, I answered.

The intern said, We have a large overhead. It is a fifty dollar minimum plus insurance.

He brought me my burger and a coke.

Intern: Now take a number, sit and wait to be called. You will be seen in the next group of sixty people, ages thirty through eighty.

Me: I’m losing a lot of blood.

Intern: I’m losing a lot of patients.

Me: I don’t doubt that! Is there a doctor in charge?

Intern: He’s making shakes. You’ll have to wait.

We have seventy-seven people bleeding, fifty-three gun shot wounds, twenty-four stab wounds. Bleeding from the head and chest. You have a bloody finger.

How did you cut your finger?

Me: I was chopping onions.

Intern: Unfortunately, you are a low priority. Hold the gauze and ice tight around your finger. I will call you when your meal is ready.

Before I sat down, he said, Anything else?

I said – Just this –

I gave him the finger.

The intern said, Ahh – the finger.

Now you’ve gotta see a psychiatrist.

Nancy Redman is an actress, standup, and playwright. Her one-woman play, CLUTTER: I’m Saving My Life and It’s Killing Me won Best Comedian Award United Solo Theatre Festival 2011 and Best Directing Award for Austin Pendleton. Ms. Redman’s plays are published at http://www.indietheaternow.com/Playwright/nancy-redman

All Downsized Living blog posts are fictitious and satirical. Any resemblance to real persons is coincidental and unintentional.