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There's No Whining In Cleveland 

Surviving The Great Recession Is All About Attitude. And Wine By The Jug

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You are here. So am I, and neither one of us is going anywhere anytime soon. All the money you ever had is down the shitter and all the money you're ever going to get isn't far behind. It's time to put a lid on the bellyaching and get serious with a life-sized downgrade.

You can start first thing tomorrow morning with your daily ablutions. Make every other shower a three-minute, three-point effort. (The first two are your armpits.) If you need to make it a five-pointer, go ahead and add your feet. No penalty for a face splash in either game.

I see you out there gaping in disbelief at this very suggestion: But I just can't sacrifice my 45-minute showers! Oh really? Go rent The Grapes of Wrath. How many luxury showers you think Ma Joad took while she and the rest of the clan headed for Californee in that old jalopy? You don't have one complaint. That me-me-me brattitude, coupled with eight years of the Bush administration, is exactly what got us into this hole. Look at it this way: You can sleep in for an extra half hour every other day. Your hair will be fine. It's not like you're not washing it for a week - it's only 48 hours. As for the shampoo, say goodbye to Paul Mitchell and his $20 Awapuhi, hello to Mr. Suave and his 99-cent Strawberry. Out with the Listerine, in with the Swan mouth rinse. Lancombe, Clinique, Estee Lauder: no. Maybelline, Revlon, Cover Girl: yes.

You absolutely do not need five "curve-hugging blades." Whether they call them Fusion for men or Venus for chicks, it all spells bullshit. Get a package of single-blade Bic disposables and use them until they're as dull as a butter knife. And put a couple of one-liter plastic bottles full of sand and water in the toilet tank to turn every 3.4-gallon flush into a three-gallon kiss goodbye.

Oh yes, plastic bottles.

Stop what you're doing. Face due north and walk until you get wet. That's Lake Erie you're swimming in, and two-thirds of the planet's fresh water flows through it. You don't need any Dasani or Aquafina or Fiji. You're paying plenty for Lake Erie tap, courtesy of the Department of Water. Remember how to use a glass?

Time for coffee. It is not possible to assign enough stupid to the purchase of a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino Blended Cr�me with a credit card. For the price of two of those candy-ass "coffees," you can buy a cheap percolator at any big box store. Pick up some Folgers while you're at it. Pretty soon, you'll be just like all those blue-collar working stiffs with their giant, plastic, stained road mugs, and that is a beautiful thing.

After work, drink shitty beer. That means nix on anything that comes with a "recommended temperature" or (good Christ) a cork. You might need to shift your concept of enjoyment. Blatz ain't all that bad if you drink it real cold and real fast. For those who prefer vino over brewski, get yourself a two-pound brick of Velveeta cheese, some Triscuits and a four-liter jug of Carlo Rossi. You and the wife are set for cocktail hour for a day or two. Oh yeah, before I forget: You are in Cleveland, Ohio. You do not need air conditioning.

What's for dinner? How about one of those whole pork tenderloins? They go on sale every few weeks. A seven-and-a-half-pounder will run you 15 bucks.

Cut half of it into chops for the freezer and put the other half in the oven for 10 hours. Pour a bottle of BBQ sauce over it and PRESTO! - you're eating pulled-pork sandwiches for the next two weeks. Or you could make with the refrigerator round-up: Dump everything you've got in there into a pot. Add a can of navy beans or creamed corn or diced tomatoes (or all three). Cook it until it's an unrecognizable monochromatic pail of slop, add a few shakes of salt for good measure (or habanera sauce if it's really iffy - no one will taste anything if it's hot enough), ladle it into bowls, dole out a few slices of Wonder topped with Blue Bonnet and there you go. For your evening entertainment, you do not need a Wii or a 50-inch flat-panel television. Go screw instead. You've already got everything you need on board. Plus, it burns calories and it'll put you in a good mood.

Uh-oh. Did your sweetie put you in the doghouse over the Velveeta and bottles in the toilet? OK, here's what: Instead of signing your name on a $5 love-love card with a picture of a rose, pour a cup of that crappy joe and pull out a notebook and pen (the original laptop). Now write her a note: We might be splitting cans of Campbell's to survive right now, but as long as I can watch your hair spill over the pillow at night, I don't care about any of it. We'll get to the other side of this, and when we do I'll shower you in diamonds. Until then, I'll shower you in kisses.

When she finishes reading and wraps herself around you, it's not just a feeling - you really are the richest man in the world.

Visit O'Brien's March 11 blog entry at erin-obrien.blogspot.com to view photographic evidence of her personal adaptation of the preceding suggestions.

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