Recently the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a study: "Unemployed Older Workers: Many Face Long-Term Joblessness and Reduced Retirement Security." Other recent studies concurred. I am waiting for a more realistic title like, "You're Old, You're Fat, and You're Not As Gorgeous As You Used To be--Nobody's Gonna Hire You For Nuthin'."
Close to 30 years ago, like many freelance writers, I found myself adrift on a sea of my own unaccepted, often unread manuscripts. Nobody was buying my stories or plays and I was running out of ideas about how to sell them. It hit me like a James Joyce epiphany: I needed a "job." But what on earth could I possibly do besides write?
The jobs available to me now are similar to what happened then. Then, I seriously considered placing in a newspaper ad under "Situation Wanted."
ARTISTIC FEED BACK: Do you have an unpublished novel? An unproduced play? An unappreciated poem? A philosophical treatise? A stand-up act that's never been seen? Don't delay! Have your manuscript read--and more! Professional writer will read your work carefully, and talk to you about your literary creation for hours on end. You can even call in the middle of the night with nifty new ideas and deeply personal reservations. Expensive, but you are worth it.
EXCLUSIVE BOHEMIAN INTRODUCTION SERVICE: Suburban divorcees--move back to the city and experience the Bohemian lifestyle! Meet photographers, writers, actors, artists, fascinating raconteurs and neer-do-wells. These people are hungrily waiting to meet you. Interesting guests also available for dinner parties.
TINKER: Missing buttons, faulty appliances, inappropriate gifts that must be returned. These petty nuisances can drive otherwise comfortable people to distraction. Good driver (Congrats letter from Secretary of State) with own car ('74 Volkswagon Bug) will pick up all the little problems in your life and have them fixed. Why sweat the small stuff, when you are so otherwise charming?
AMUSING DINNER GUEST: Revisionist feminist (bright, but demur) will join you for dinner, laugh at your jokes and encourage you through your mid-life crises. Italian knit designer dress, black. Can wear feather earrings and/or seamed stockings on request. Prefer northern Italian or sushi.
HAIR CUT EVALUATIONS: Wonder what your haircut really looks like? Who you might possibly resemble? Scathingly direct and honest appraisals.
LOW CONCEPT: Film, book and television ideas galore for sale. Stock up now and be ready when the current blockbuster trend reverses.
LYRICIST: Trashy, common, easy-to-pronounce clichés sitting perfectly on the notes of your uncommon melodies, just as Sondheim suggests.No false rhymes. Guaranteed not to mis-use the words: "love," "blue," "you," "moon," or "stocking."
ENTHUSIASTIC AUDIENCE MEMBER: Will attend your affair; applaud heartily; laugh lustily at the right places; shout "Author! Author!" or "Bravissimo" when appropriate and talk your work up for weeks on end.
ANGRY LETTERS-TO-THE-EDITOR: Hand-written or typed for your personal signature. Send your gut feelings with $50 check and letter will be returned for your signature, the same day.
RAGE, RAGE INTO THE DARK: Tired of drinking alone into the wee hours? Hate it when everybody goes home early because they have to go to work tomorrow--just when you're getting ready to boogie? Late-night companion will meet you at your favorite bistro and dance with you to "New York, New York", "Kalamazoo," or any of your favorite Irish ditties. Perfect Ginger Rogers style--you'll look like you're leading and you won't have to do a thing. Cab fare required. Slow dances, extra.
Perhaps realizing that I was not likely to receive any job offers, I also considered advertising a few items FOR SALE:
MID-LATE 1960s Motown record collection. $12,500.
GREEN VELVET COUCH. $8,564.
EXQUISITE BOLIVIAN HAND-WOVEN BELT. Earth colors. Hand-dyed. One-of-a-kind. $3,750 or best offer.
USED WEDDING RING. Thin. Gold. $12.
That was a long time ago. I have to admit my list wouldn't look that different today. Except for the wedding ring. I have a different one now and I wouldn't sell it for anything.