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I recently attended a meeting of the International Brotherhood of Gigolos. I was an observer, of course. The organization meets monthly for $2 drafts at a Forest Park tavern.

“We chose Forest Park,” Local President Bill Leech explained, “because of its long association with labor unions – though I have to admit we’re a non-labor union.”

Leech started the meeting with a brief speech for the benefit of newcomers. He explained that the organization had been founded four years ago, in response to the economic downturn.

“As a result of the recession, many traditional male breadwinners lost their jobs and have been forced to live off their female partners. For others, having a sugar mama is simply the realization of a life-long dream.”

Leech invited rank-and-file members to speak. This being a union meeting, many had grievances. Jeremy Idle took the microphone. “Listen, I’m thankful my girlfriend Heather has a full-time job, but does she have to make so much racket in the morning? I can barely get back to sleep.” He received numerous grunts of approval.

Ted Sponge was next. “Hey, I supported my wife for 14 years. But then I lost my sales job – who knew suspenders were going out of style? I know roofing is a tough job, but it’s time Cindy started pulling her weight.”

He was followed by Frank Taker. “My girlfriend only makes $15 an hour as a cashier. That’s barely enough to keep me in video games. I told her to get another part-time job – or else.”

Vince Parisito added his complaint. “We have date-night once a month, when I get my unemployment check. I take her to this sit-down restaurant and let her have half of my lasagna. Then she asks for dessert. Hey, I just bought you a Diet Coke for $2.50. Get your own cheesecake.”

As the litanies continued, I could feel a growing sense of solidarity in the room. Members didn’t mind tagging along to the grocery store, but carrying the bags Ð that was a workplace violation. Another spoke of being too exhausted from his dog-walking duties to pick up his clothes.

Finally, Phil Destitute countered with these comments: “What’s wrong with you guys? We’ve got it made. I mean – I wish I still had my job but that doesn’t mean I can’t help out at home. I’m learning to do laundry. I’m trying some new recipes. I’m grateful that Anita kept her job at the collection agency. No offense to you guys, but I’d rather be back in the bricklayers union than this one.”

President Leech finally broke the sheepish silence. “Hey guys, we have to wrap this up. My girlfriend’s picking me up. She won’t let me drive her Lexus until I kick-in for insurance.

“Don’t worry, I’m filing a grievance.”