Pink-slip parties have become regular events over the past year in San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Denver and Tel Aviv, Israel, where losing a job is actually the most pleasant type of firing taking place in that country. Back in March, I tried to go to one in Manhattan thrown by a group of Web consultants called the Hired Guns, but when I showed up at Rebar at 8 p.m. I found two guys with power tools and surgeon's masks taking the place apart. You don't have to be Alan Greenspan to know the economy is in trouble when pink-slip parties go under.
A month later, I headed to the party's new location, Hush, which employed a velvet-rope-wielding bouncer who let guests in only if they said the words "pink-slip party"--making him the only doorman in the world trying to weed out the successful and well dressed. Upon entering, I was confronted by the two sure signs that a party won't be fun: most of the guests had just been fired, and everyone was forced to wear a wristband. Pink glow bands were given to the unemployed, green to recruiters and blue to "supportive friends." I liked to think of blue as "willing to sleep with the unemployed."
I don't know how many of you have been to parties where the hosts have hired professional comics, but it kind of kills that "just chillin'" atmosphere. The woman doing stand-up was Lynn Harris, a friend of mine who was laid off from the Oxygen network. While she was performing, a news team from Oxygen was filming a story on a woman's search for a new job. Also, Lynn's boyfriend dumped her, and her dog died. "Maybe countrymusic.com is hiring," she said. I laughed the deep, hard laugh of a man who feels really bad for his friend.
Eager to get away from a friend who needed my support, I wrapped a pink glow stick around my wrist and waited for the recruiters to approach. None did. So after an hour, I walked up to Kenji Mitsuka, a producer at Drumbeat Digital, a Web development company. I asked Kenji if he could hook me up with a writing job. After listening to my qualifications, he asked me if I could write insurance brochures. I told him I could try, if Aetna didn't mind insurance brochures with penis jokes in them. Then he said, "You don't have any health-care experience, do you?" I said no. "How about proposal writing?" he asked.
"I mostly write about myself," I explained. "Got any openings for that?" He told me that just minutes before he had been approached by a sex columnist from the Greenwich Village Gazette with the same skill set. Although I was excited to hear that someone else was writing about me for a living, I couldn't help worrying that when my editors finally wake up and trade me for Tucker Carlson and a liberal to be named later, I'm going to have to read up on this health-care thing.