Nude Day. What is Nude Day Really?bySuperHeroRalph©
This is a Nude Day contest story. Please vote.
Writer ponders Nude Day. Is it just about not wearing clothes one day out of the year?
Nude Day to many is the one day a year that we celebrate being naked in public. Those who cannot bear to wear nothing but skin, but who still want to celebrate the Nude Day holiday, can do so in the privacy of their homes. Then, just as there as those of us who use the holiday to legally expose themselves where and when permissible, there are those of us who use the Nude Day holiday to voyeur those celebrating the Nude Day holiday by being naked in public. Ah, human nature is alive and well on Nude Day. Yet, to others, Nude Day means something totally different than just removing your clothes, exposing your body, or ogling someone else's naked body, one day a year.
As you can determine from reading the above paragraph, Nude Day means different things to different people. Only to Walter and his wife, Elaine, Nude Day had nothing to do with walking around naked one day a year. To them, tragically and unfortunately, Nude Day was every day and more specifically, every night. Oh, yeah, if you asked Walter and Elaine about the one holiday and the one day they hated the most, they'd tell you that it was Nude Day.
Coincidentally and appropriately one of the reasons why Walter and Elaine hated Nude Day was because Nude Day was the day the sheriff came and put them and their family out of their home. If you think feeling naked is when not wearing any clothes, there's nothing as naked when all of your belongings are removed from your home and all of your personal possessions are strewn out over your front lawn for all your neighbors to see just how little you have and what losers you are. Now, that's being naked for the whole world to see.
Oh, the authorities gave them plenty of notice and the bank gave him all the legal warnings mixed in with their small printed mumbo jumbo, none of which he fully understood, especially when they didn't have money enough to afford a lawyer. The only part they needed to know and did understand was that they and their family were going to be homeless. Not that it mattered, the only comfort Walter and Elaine had was that none of this was their fault, all of it was out of their control, and there were millions of families experiencing the same naked humiliation across the country daily. Only, of course, when it's their turn, when it happens to them, it's more significantly and personally horrifying than watching it happen to a family on the nightly news.
It's a time like this that we all reflect, question, pray, put blame on and try to understand why, before sucking it all up and doing what we must do to regain control of our lives again. It's funny how things happen in cycles. It was Nude Day four years ago, when Walter lost his job.
A long time coming, every day that he went to work, he waited for his employer to hand him a pink slip. Never thinking it would be his turn, always thinking himself indispensible, he worked harder to cover for his lost co-workers, while working even harder not to be noticed. One by one, he watched his co-workers get laid-off, until that fateful day, when it was his turn to go, too.
All that extra work was for naught. Coming in early, staying late, working through his lunch hours and never expecting overtime, a raise, or so much as a pat on the back and/or a thank you, he had worked extra hard hoping they'd need him, couldn't do without him, and keep him. Every time they let someone go, he'd pick up the slack, until he couldn't run as fast as they wanted him to run without a raise, recognition, and/or relief. Then, when they cut his pay and slashed his benefits, he was morally, spiritually, and emotionally defeated. It was over and he was done.
Even though he felt fortunate to have a job, he just couldn't work for them anymore. He was already mentally gone from them, long before they physically let him go. Every day he went through the newspaper looking for another job, but there weren't any. The only jobs he could find paid less than half of what he was earning now and they were all part-time jobs with no benefits. It was an employers' workforce and unfortunately, now that he was unemployed and without a job, he was no longer part of that workforce. He was just an invisible face and a mentioned in passing and then forgotten statistic, until next month, when the government reported the unemployment statistics again, so much as they did with casualties of war.
At least he had unemployment. Definitely, with six months of unemployment under his belt, he'd find a job, an even better job that paid more money and had better benefits. Yeah, he'd show them that they were stupid to let him go.
In the beginning, he welcomed the opportunity of change. In the beginning, he needed a break in routine of all the hard work he had done and all the long hours he had put in for nothing. While collecting unemployment, he even took the first two weeks off from looking for a job to have the vacation he never got. He hoped the time off would reenergized him for what he needed to do to find another job. Only, more than three years later and four federal emergency unemployment extensions, he was still unemployed and no longer a statistic to be counted. They even had a name for displaced people like him, the 99'ers, named that because they collected 99 weeks of unemployment, an unprecedented amount of unemployment benefits.
It wasn't bad enough he was out of work for that amount of time but every time one extension ran out and he needed another extension to survive, the Republican Congress played games with funding the money. Making him and millions of others like him sweat bullets by wondering if they were going to get a 2nd, 3rd, and an unprecedented 4th and 5th unemployment extension. By the time he finally got the extension, he was so far behind on bills that it almost didn't matter. Sadly, even though it was promised and discussed by the legislators, he never received the 5th unemployment extension. He watched the money he needed to survive and the money he needed for retraining, go to other countries for emergency aid or to fund wars that had more to do with oil than terrorism or with him.
Four years is a long time in a span of the average employment lifetime, typically ten percent, to be unemployed. Only, this was not the first time, not even the second time, but the third time he had been through this. He figured, between being unemployed and underemployed, that he had lost nearly a third of his working career. If he had earned that money that was denied him, if he had worked uninterrupted in the way that his father and grandfather did before him, his house would have been paid off and he'd have a tidy amount set aside for his children's college education and towards his retirement nest egg. Now, he can barely buy food.
Feeling guilty for wasting time and money, while trying to justify every financial decision in his life, when Walter looked back over his career dotted with unemployment and underemployment, he wondered where all the time and money went. He knows where the time went, of course, he was working, that is, when he had a job. When he wasn't working, when he was unemployed or underemployed, he suffered through the cold chill of depression and disillusionment of every season, while trying to somehow afford to heat his house. While sweating to pay his bills on unemployment or part-time temporary jobs without benefits that paid less than permanent full-time jobs that had benefits, even the blistering heat of summer was no comfort, when he could barely afford the electricity for air conditioning.
His money, of course, went to live the good American life. Buying a new car, owning a home and filling it with furniture, and going out to eat; things were good for a while. Only, not saving for a rainy day, he wished he had been more frugal with his money then. He wished he had the foresight to see all of what was coming down the road. He wished he knew then, what he knows now. He would have put more money aside. Only, unless he won the lottery, with three kids, there was no way he could have saved up enough to save his house.
When other of his friends were traveling, vacationing, and inviting people over to barbeque, even the warmth of summer was no relief to the cold desperation he felt with the ensuing dread of paying winter's heating bills. He didn't even have money enough to buy gas for his car, food for his family, or pay the mortgage to keep a roof over their heads. Trying to stay positive and hopeful, he didn't know it, but he was doomed.
Knowing the day was coming, knowing he was going to be put out of work again, Walter and Elaine tightened their belts. They stopped their spending. No more movies, takeout food, and vacations. Elaine was good about it. She even stopped having her hair done and the kids stopped taking dance lessons, Karate instruction, and participating at sports at school.
Each Christmas that he was unemployed and/or underemployed was more Spartan than the one before. Last Christmas was the worst, when they couldn't even afford a Christmas tree and Walter went out Christmas Eve to buy whatever tree he could find. Better than nothing, he found a tree for ten bucks that looked as bad as he felt. Still his three kids didn't care. They were just happy they had a tree to decorate and to have a place where Santa could leave them their presents.
Unable to buy them anything they really wanted, all the toys they saw advertised on TV, and wrote to Santa asking for this and for that, were all too expensive. There were so few gifts under the tree that his children thought they were bad, when they were all so very good. To Walter and Elaine, Christine, Sarah, and Jimmy were the best kids in the world.
Walter did everything he could to survive. He even declared bankruptcy and he held onto his car for as long as he could, until he had to make the decision to make the car payment or pay for health insurance. He could always take the bus, he assured himself, but now without a car, his job prospects were severely limited to those openings closer to home. Unfortunately, there were none.
He and Elaine sold whatever they could on Craigslist and E-Bay. With everyone in the same boat, a buyers' market, they had to accept pennies on the dollar for their snow blower, lawnmower, patio furniture, and collectibles handed down from their parents to them. They even sold whatever gold they had to put food on the table and continue to pay what little bills they had, mostly utilities and the charge card balances they had promised to pay, even after declaring bankruptcy.
A reality check was when they realized they were destined to lose their home, too. Then, what? Where would they go? If they couldn't afford house payments, how could they afford rent? Yet, too late to save their house, Walter took whatever jobs he could fine to pay his rent for a place half the size and in the bad part of town.
Willing to do anything for any amount of money, he worked for temp agencies when they had the jobs and showed up early at the head of the line for whatever day labor he could get working construction or unloading trucks on the dock. Even the fast food restaurants weren't interested in hiring Elaine, when they had a surplus of out of work teenagers, who'd gladly work for minimum wage without complaint and without having a negative attitude.
Yet, as significant as Nude day was, when they lost their home, they lost their hope, but that's not the only reason why Walter and Elaine hated Nude Day. With Walter out of luck and out of hope, Elaine took a job as a stripper. Now, every day that Walter envisioned his beloved wife stripping off her clothes in front of horny and drunken men that groped her for the privilege of putting a dollar in her G-string to help keep her family afloat was Nude Day. Now, every day that Elaine stripped off her clothes in front of horny and drunken men for the privilege of having them put a dollar in her G-string to keep a roof over their heads and support her family was Nude Day. Together, perceiving Nude Day as a bad day, they hated Nude Day.
With his wife, the mother of his three children, violating her privacy, her modesty, her sensibilities, and her sense of being by stripping naked in front of hordes of strange men, just to pay the bills and support their family, she grew to hate nakedness and sex. No longer having sex, even with her husband, stripping scarred from the experience of getting naked in public or in private. For sure, Nude Day meant something all together different to Walter and Elaine.
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