Just sitting down to write this piece requires a huge act of will on my part.
In order to write this I have to tear myself away from a bounty of pure bliss, a cache of unadulterated comfort, delivered straight from my mother’s house to mine following my last visit.
I also have to admit to an addiction that has plagued me for almost three decades.
That’s right: my name is Kelly and I am a tabloid-a-holic.
I am not addicted to all tabloids mind you, just two of the decidedly old-school variety: Star magazine and The National Enquirer.
I mean, just because I’m an addict doesn’t mean I don’t have standards: I feel it’s important that the latest vainglorious celebrity gossip be interspersed with gruesome murder mystery cases involving average Joes, outraged (and righteous) condemnations of animal cruelty and uplifting accounts of everyday heroism and true grit.
Now, I don’t want you to think I actually buy these magazines. I would never do that. But my mother, enabler that she is, has for years carefully saved each and every issue and piled them neatly on my childhood bed. When I visit, the first order of business is to put them in alternating, (Star, then Enquirer) chronological order and then work my way through them one by one.
Generally at least half a dozen unread papers travel home with me where I spend the first few days post visit reading them to the detriment of everything else in my life. Then I reorganize them and pass them on to my cleaning lady or one of my co-workers, so I can congratulate myself on being fully up to speed on pop culture and environmentally friendly.
I don’t know exactly why these rags hold me in their thrall. I have an honors degree in journalism. I publicly swore off celebrity Internet gossip last fall. I very rarely watch television or go to the movies. The last flick I saw in the theatre was Hairspray and I have never seen a single episode of Grey’s Anatomy or Lost or The Sopranos or House or Desperate Housewives or CSI or any one of the dozens of shows deemed as must-sees. Quite frankly I have never seen most of the actors I read about actually act.
But I don’t care.
It is inexplicably soothing to me, the consumption of these rags and their delicious morsels of desperation and morality and human frailty. No matter what drama is playing out in my own life, it always pales in comparison to the passion plays writ large across their pages: crime, depravity, self-loathing, drug abuse, adultery, financial and emotional bankruptcy.
One of my earliest childhood memories is visiting my late grandmother’s house and seeing a picture of Elvis Presley in his coffin on the cover of the National Enquirer. Back then my mother didn’t buy tabloids either: she would bring home stacks of them that my grandmother had saved for her when we visited. Later when Grandma moved in with us, she and my mother split the cost of the subscriptions. “I don’t care about them,” my mom said. “It’s your Grandma who’s used to reading them.”
But my Grandma’s been dead for four years and each week, like clockwork, the National Enquirer and the Star arrive at my parent’s house, glossy and chock-full of possibility.
Sometimes I wonder if there will come a day when I don’t care to be courted by jesters anymore. Will I bother to actually buy the tabloids when my mom passes on or will my addiction resolve itself as I continue to age and, presumably, become further removed from the youth-oriented pop culture milieu? I do wonder.
But of course I’m not wondering about that right now because I just came back from my parent’s house yesterday.
And I have some reading to catch up on.
Photo Courtesy of Don Mills Diva