* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where insurance deductibles can apply to things a lot less trivial than your health. Like, for example, your significant other. Please say hello to Mike Seperack, a first-timer at our site.

The High-Deductible Boyfriend Plan

By: Mike Seperack

As your new significant other, I understand that you will want me to meet certain needs. And who knows more about meeting people’s needs than our nation’s health insurance providers? That’s why I am following their lead and presenting you with this new high-deductible boyfriend plan. The high-deductible plan gives you the quality, value, and flexibility to craft a relationship that is right for you. I strongly encourage you to get down to business and take steps toward meeting the deductible as soon as possible. In the meantime, keep in mind that many benefits are available to you right away. For example:

From day one you can rely on me to escort you to an unlimited number of weddings.*

*Provided the wedding is local, has an open bar, and you are willing to drive to and from. The following weddings do not apply until after the deductible has been met: out of town weddings, cash bar weddings, and weddings where you want me to act as designated driver so you can get sloppy drunk.

When it comes to fixing things around the house, I fully encourage you to demonstrate your abilities as a strong, capable woman and do it yourself. But if you would like me to fix something for you, this plan has a generous two-tiered provision for home repairs. Tier One Repairs are eligible immediately. This tier encompasses all repairs requiring duct tape, super glue, and/or WD-40. They are covered at 100% for the first five minutes and 50% for up to ten minutes after that (after five minutes my efforts will become noticeably half-assed). Tier Two is for all repairs that require actual tools. This tier does not apply until after you meet the deductible.

You will notice my avid interest in electronics, as evidenced by my ability to spend countless hours watching ESPN and playing XBOX. As a side benefit, electronics repair is covered at 100% right from the start. That’s right! Effective immediately I will repair any of your electronic items that do not function properly.*

*Repair services are limited to the following: 1) Pressing the “on” button; 2) Plugging it in; 3) Unplugging it, then plugging it back in; 4) Flipping a wall switch; 5) Flipping a circuit breaker; 6) Re-booting; 7) Replacing batteries. For battery replacement, the batteries must be readily available, and the battery compartment must be accessible without the use of a screwdriver.

Removal/elimination of small, slow moving insects is covered 100%.*

*Provided they do not resemble a scaled-down version of that thing from Aliens.

This plan includes some exciting new movie options, including romantic comedies. This benefit is available before you meet the deductible.*

*Under this option I agree to watch one romantic comedy per month, which I will select from a list of “in-network” movies. Please note that movies from the Die Hard and Spider-Man franchises are included on the list of “in-network” romantic comedies.

This plan also has a special provision for dinner and game-night with one annoying vegan friend and her dull, non-sports-watching boyfriend.*

*This benefit is limited to one occurrence per calendar year.

Deductible Q & A

Q: How do I meet the deductible?

A: There are many things you can do to help reach the deductible. Most of them are not entirely unpleasant.

Q: How do I know how close I am to meeting the deductible?

A: I created a handy chart that will display your progress. Our healthy relationship is represented by a fruit basket. Every time you do something that brings you closer to meeting the deductible, an appropriate-sized piece of fruit will show up in the basket. When the basket is full, your deductible has been met. It’s that simple!

Q: Isn’t this just a ploy for your sexual gratification?

A: Nothing could be further from the truth. Only some of the fruit-bearing tasks have a sexual component, and tasks of a non-sexual nature generally yield larger numbers of fruit. For example, making me dinner is worth three grapes. Having intimate relations with me during a long weekend when I have decided not to shower or shave is worth one grapefruit. Bringing over your crazy-hot college roommate for a night of drunken strip poker is worth a watermelon. Picking me up from the airport is worth five craisins. The variety is endless, and the choices are all yours. Remember, this plan was created with your satisfaction in mind.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, your ultimate summer recreation spot. Your guide this week is Todd Dorman, and this is his first piece for us. Treat him as you would any camp counselor: put frogs in his bed and glue in his hair.

Welcome To Unemployed Executive Daddy “Summer” Camp For Kids

By: Todd Dorman

Welcome to Unemployed Executive Daddy “Summer” Camp for Kids, the only camp we know of run by unemployed executive dads for children of any age, race, or gender who have money. Boy are we glad you’re all here! We know it’s cold, but October was the month closest to summer that we could afford. Please be sure to leave your certified check, credit card, or wad of cash with Leo Foster, former head of accounting at a former accounting firm you’ve all heard of, ha ha ha, in the payment area down by the lake. (Please note that credit cards will not be returned.)

We have a great week ahead, full of impactful, synergistic and planful activities. (Parents, please note that all impactful activities require a helmet. Helmets are available for purchase from Mr. Foster down by the lake.)

Each morning at Unemployed Executive Daddy begins with the Internet Search Game, where you get to take out the laptops you bought or will soon buy from Mr. Foster, log on to our pay-by-the-minute WiFi, and surf the web for specific phrases and pay brackets your counselors will provide to you in the form of their resumes. The more opportunities you locate and optimize, the less good-natured yelling there will be. If you can’t read yet, it’s OK, some of us counselors don’t read too good either!

(Parents, please remember that we prefer kids at Unemployed Executive Daddy to show promise in any two of the following three areas: creative math, storytelling or LexisNexis. Financial penalties may apply for children who do not: please see Mr. Foster with any questions. If your child does not excel in one of these areas but likes to order around people who do, Mr. Foster will collect your canoe toll and send you and your child right across the lake to Jeff Lang from HR, who will enroll your child in the special Fast Track section and equip him/her with a personal staff and a camp Town Car.)

As for the rest of you, please bear in mind that the Internet Search Game usually takes longer than you think it will, so it’s likely we’ll have to skip swimming and boating most days. We do have insurance for loss of life, but only for our counselors. The faster you complete your resume stacks, the more likely you’ll get into the lake, but don’t count on it. Besides, the lake is usually iced over in the morning.

Lunch will be served alfresco on the grass, after a quick hunting and gathering lesson taught by Terry Noosebaum, former Senior Vice President of Advancement at a large university that had some public image issues a while back. Our regular chef got another job — we’re happy for him! Really! — so anything you hunt and kill this week won’t be cooked unless you somehow find a way to cook it. Maybe stick to fish that can be cut up and served as sushi, or better yet just stick to gathering. Again, please try to avoid walking on the lake, even if the ice seems thick. It’s not.

Late afternoons (gathering, too, always takes longer than you think) are generally reserved for reflection/self-medication/reading the self-help books counselors have hurled out of their cabins — though many of the counselors may retire to the Weeping Tent for Cocktail Hour (Cocktail Hour starts at 1pm and lasts until well past dinnertime). Please do not enter or come near the Weeping Tent, because we really can’t afford any more lawsuits.

Speaking of naptime, I see that some of you brought your own sleeping bags. That’s great, but because of the bedbug epidemic up here, and other epidemics, we require that all sleeping bags be purchased from Mr. Foster down by the lake. If you brought a sleeping bag, please give it to him. He will return it to you, sterilized, at the end of the week, and provide your parents with a bill for the cleaning. Of course, you’ll have to rent another sleeping bag while you’re here. Remember that many sleeping bags look alike, so if Mr. Foster takes your sleeping bag, goes into his shed, and comes back out with another sleeping bag that looks just like yours, it’s a coincidence.

Dinner is whatever you have left over from lunch, and you can eat it whenever you want. There is usually potable water in the pool. (Nobody up here eats breakfast, but you’ll find out all about that in the morning.)

Evenings in the Main Lodge are reserved for the development of your PowerPoint skills. We hope you completed the creative interview prep assignments included with your camp acceptance letter. If you failed to do so, please understand that your counselors may express disappointment/rage when you tell them this, given that Cocktail Hour does often drift into Lodge Time.

Please turn in by 9:00, as we can’t be held accountable for anything that happens to anyone, including ourselves, after that time. Please note that the howling sounds you hear in the woods do not emit from werewolves or zombies or alien monsters, but from Dads who are just like your Dad will be once he loses his job. If you did not bring earplugs, you can purchase them from Mr. Foster. Be advised that Mr. Foster always sells out of earplugs by the second morning of camp.

Finally, if you have any questions about anything, please don’t hesitate to see good old Mr. Foster down by the lake. Or me. And please note that answers to all questions cost $100 cash — no exceptions.

Have a great week!



* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are not ashamed to admit we are targeting the tax returns of humor writers, because who deserves it more than they do? We're sure that after reading this week's shocking expose by Leah Prinzivalli, you will agree. You'd better, or we'll have you audited too.

Proposed Tax Write-Offs From My First Year Out Of College

By: Leah Prinzivalli

Self-employment fee: As a new taxpayer, I’d like to thank the IRS for offering such a large comments section at the end of the tax return. As a freelancer, I’d like to remind you that I am accustomed to being paid by the word. I love being my own boss and deciding when I get paid, how much, and making trivial decisions like how to support myself.

Education expenses: Classes at Mold Yourself Pottery School. Who can resist a strongly worded Groupon? You guys over at the IRS should spot me this time and we can start over with a clean slate. Incidentally, I’ve made seven slates in class, if you want one to buy one for a memento.

Investment in the future: I bought my own domain name this year. This time next year, not only will I know what to put on the homepage, whatever is on there will make me a fortune. No one in my family knows the meaning of the phrase “start-up capital,” but I heard that the IRS has a special fund set aside for it. If not, I suggest you sell vintage calculators on Etsy and start one. Maybe next year we can do a joint sale on Tax Day.

Charity work: I gave half my halal to a homeless guy the other week. Okay, honestly? I only thought about it. He looked like he didn’t even want it. It was pretty all right for lunch the next day. Does eating leftovers qualify for anything?

Healthcare credit: My New Year’s Resolution was to not drink soda, and I’ve only broken it three times. Bloomberg is giving out cash for that, I think.

Relationship deductions: I don’t have a relationship per se, but I do have an OkCupid A-List profile. My motto is “judge not lest ye be judged.” Or, pay $9.95 and anonymously troll for guys with keywords “traditional,” “dinner” or “job.”

Business start-up costs: One simply cannot expect the variables of the mason jar market to conform because some squares at the IRS said so. I abide by my jart, regardless of whether I earn your callus “returns.”

Points for refinancing: On Thursdays, I force myself to look at my checking account statement. On an unrelated note, attached is my standing delivery order for one mac-and-cheese and one brownie sundae every Thursday at 9:00 p.m. It’s the least you can do.

Casualty deductions: If I were to, just an example, get kidnapped and held for ransom, would you guys cover round trip airfare to Ibiza for the captor? I’d love to take a beach casualty sometime around late spring, early summer.

Management and administration: My intern is going to quit unless I start to reimburse his Metrocard. Milo is my muse and has inspired great business ideas such as the customized novel and renting out my blankets. Also, he is a twig and I really need him around as thinspiration otherwise I will never make it to spin class every day.

Entertainment expenses: Look, I’m going to level with you here. Rihanna is playing at the Barclays Center and I really want to go. I’m not talking about bleacher seats either. By this time next year, I will only have a Swiss bank account, so you should probably get in good now.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, home of the great American novel. And also this less-than-great novel by Stan Hughes. But even if there's not a great story in the novel, there's a great story behind the novel.

My Novel

By: Stan Hughes

“Stop texting, dammit!” The Wife says. I reply, with a flash of artistic temper, that I’m not “texting,” I’m writing my novel.

“On an iPhone? You’re not writing any goddamned novel, you’re texting your old girlfriend, you big fat liar!”

I send myself an email: “New Chapter: text old girlfriend for ideas.” After a bit of reflection, I add, “tell Wife dress does make her look fat.”

The Wife (I forget her name) should have more faith. I am indeed writing a novel on my iPhone. It’s going to be great. Really. I don’t want to brag about how great it’s going to be, but it’s going to be really great. Fantastic.

I don’t have an outline, or notes. Don’t need ’em. Notes and outlines are for sissies. Have you ever heard of a French novelist named Marcel Proust? Wrote a long multivolume cycle of novels called The Remembrance of Things Past? Had tons of outlines, and a trainload of notes? Well, he was a sissy.

So, you already knew about Proust the Sissy and his sissy novel, didn’t you? In fact, you probably even lied to your French Lit major girlfriend about reading it, didn’t you? Unless you’re the girlfriend — and you didn’t read it either, but you subtly let your boyfriend know that you knew he was lying, but that you loved him so much that you were going to pretend he read it, didn’t you? Well, I’ll go you one better: I read the whole damn thing and lied to my girlfriend anyway — I told her I hadn’t read it.

(Email to self: text old girlfriend and confess to lying about reading Proust’s sissy novel. Pepper with quotes from Swann’s Way. Mock her master’s thesis.)

Nobody wants to read long novels anymore, at least long novels without vampires or wizards. I don’t have any of those. I’m a serious novelist, dammit! My novel’s going to be vampire-free and great and the damn vampires can go sit on a wooden stake. I don’t care what the wizards sit on.

I don’t have a plot for the novel yet. Or characters. Or a movie deal. What have I got? Got chapter titles! Got pithy quotes for the chapter headings! Let’s just run it down…

CHAPTER ONE: Jesus Is Weeping

“Jesus Wept.” (Gospel of St. Luke, Ch. 3, vs. 31)

I’m not sure what happens in this chapter yet, but this quote is killah!! How can I go wrong with a start like that?! Does this guy St. Luke have an agent? Because this book of his could be really commercial if he just added a vampire or two — he’s already got this cool Jesus guy in there. If he needs a little help, I know a novelist who’s available.

CHAPTER TWO: The Dead Don’t Drive

“Never trust a man in a blue trench coat / never drive a car when you’re dead.” — Tom Waits, “Telephone Call From Istanbul”

Pretty standard road safety advice, but the blue trench coat is way cool and damn enigmatic. Trust issues are involved, which is good. Helps that it takes place in Istanbul — that’s definitely going in.

CHAPTER THREE: The American Railroad Tradition

“The midnight train is whining low / I’m so lonesome I could cry.” — Hank Williams, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”

When you’re lonesome and blue, Hank, the last thing you want to do is board some self-indulgent, high-maintenance, whiny train. Take a plane, Hank. Also: hey, Amtrak — just suck it up already, nobody wants to hear about it. Stop whining. There, I said it.

CHAPTER FOUR: The Gathering Storm

“Aww…baby where’d you stay last night? ‘Cause your hair all tangled and you ain’t talkin’ right.” — Robert Johnson, “32-20 Blues”

This one was a shocker. What does hair care have to do with diction? Well, Mr. Johnson’s got it covered! As an experiment, I surreptitiously mussed my wife’s hair with a chopstick while she was on the phone with my old girlfriend. Astounding results! Her speech instantly became garbled, scrambling English with lower Slobbovian or something and producing some truly classic gibberish: “Herro, splidep? Rijish the basnerd, and neblif fremmic if he ever radenour ectbevis again. Rogasazm?” That Robert Johnson was a hell of a songwriter!

Four chapters so far. Maybe I should add another one. Naah — I hate long novels.

Anyway, thanks to Doc Johnson, I’ve got three characters: Herro Splidep, Rijish the Basnerd, and Radenour Ectbevis (I had to write Neblif Fremmic out). Got a setting — Istanbul! Got action — Herro, Rijish, and Radenour dodging cars driven by trench-coated, big-haired zombie spies, while Jesus looks down from above, bawling his eyes out.

(Hmm…all the quotes but the first one are musical. Maybe I should change it to “Jesus Sang?” No, if I do that, St. Luke’s agent will be all over me, and litigation will just slow me down. I’m a novelist, not a lawyer, so I’ll just let Jesus weep — the sissy.)

That’s all you need to know about my novel. I don’t have a title yet, but it will be a great title. And a great title means a great novel! And of course the novel will be great — after all, it’s my novel.

Look for it in fine bookstores everywhere, except the one The Ex-Wife works in.