I remember being young and stupid, just out of college and in a dead-end job that paid no money and had little benefits (except 3:30 every Friday was beer-thirty, and everyone kicked back with a couple or four or six cold ones).

Anyway. I remember talking to friends about how pointless our lives were, how we missed opportunities to do something meaningful and worthwhile (read: get work on Mexican beaches holding reflector panels on SI swimsuit shoots). One guy got a job with a big-8 accounting firm and worked 70-hour weeks. He lasted six months, then worked retail in a sporting goods store. Now he runs his own biz; he’s the bossman. Another guy got a job at an oil refinery — not as a pipefitter but a balance-sheet fixer, finding ways to save the plant money. He eventually got his MBA and recently bought a humongous house with a huge down payment.

Me, Mr. high school Student Body President, Mr. Most Likely to Succeed? I couldn’t do math so I got a crappy degree in communications from a second-rate state university. I got a job with a tiny company where two of our highest responsibilities were drinking beer and taking clients to strip clubs (OK, I was never that senior, but it was only one promotion away). I knew what I wanted to do — not a damn thing.

This comes to mind because, after all these years, after attaining scads of experience, voluminous wisdom, immeasurable maturity … I haven’t budged. I still don’t want to do a damn thing.

But I have to. The kid’s got to eat, and wear diapers, and one days she’s going to grow up and what if, just what if, as she’s traveling from one college interview to another she gets arrested and goes to jail for a murder she didn’t commit and we spend every last cent we have and mortgage the house twice and in a move of desperation I get sucked into Amway and it takes years, years I tell ya, to earn my baby’s freedom and by then the kid, she’s 30, and hardened from jail, and she walks and marries Jimmy the guard on graveyards who used to slip her chocolate cigarettes with romantic four-word couplets and they buy a double-wide and start popping out kids and they go broke and hold up a liquor store and Jimmy gets shot and, ironically, I’ve started drinking … the spiral of debt never ends!

Or maybe things are brighter. The kid avoids the pitfalls of a myopic law enforcement system. She’s smart and gets into an Ivy League, and by 2025 tuition is $225,000 a semester, and she has to commute to China cause they’re running the world. She marries an ecological economist whose not good enough for her and they plan a bare-bones exotic wedding on the beaches of Antarctica with their closest 500 friends and the bill’s only TWICE MY LIFETIME EARNINGS.

I’m not alone in this marriage to the American Way.

The point of this little anxiety-driven excursion is, the Sexywife’s going back to work.

It’s come to this. But it’s supposed to come to this. We have balance. I have a decent roof over my head and fairly regular meals now because, in part, I didn’t run away to Mexican beaches to work with models. And, because I didn’t go to law school I didn’t marry an equally annoying and ambitious type-A who beats me with a legal pad if I come home before 7 p.m. Not that there’s anything wrong with that — especially the former (or, maybe, the latter, depending on what she’s wearing during the beatings).

The Sexywife has spent most of almost two and a half years at home (she worked weekends from months 6 through 11) with Ourowndaughter, which is more time with a kid than most families get. Soon she’ll start working two days a week. She’s a nurse, the kind who can almost choose her hours and her job and cover the mortgage with a couple days of lifesaving activities. The kid, she’ll go to daycare and spend a few hours with someone other than Mommy.

I think they’ll both appreciate that, especially on the days when I come home and the kid’s in one room, her Sexymom is in another and they each tell me they’re not speaking to the other one; one wall in the den is three shades of Crayon and the dining table now has five chairs, not six. That leads me to suspect that they could use a break from each other now and then.

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