Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It doesn't make me a bad person

Just sitting down to write this piece requires a huge act of will on my part.

Huge.

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 Mother’s Day visit last weekend.

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 on Sunday.

And I have some reading to catch up on.

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57 comments:

David said...

This is great stuff! I have to admit when I visit the medical gurus of the GTA i sniff out People magazine.
Thanks for this I enjoyed

Jenifer said...

I am so with you on this one! When my Mom visits my grandmother in Ottawa she brings me home stacks of Stars and I devour them! If I am lucky a few find a way into my stocking from Hubby as well.

And like you I never buy them, but I choose the longest checkout line and have a quick peek.

I figure it is like candy for my brain and TV is really the same thing, something mindless and delicious for me to escape with for a bit.

I never would have admitted it first though! I would have mused about the latest issue of the New Yorker instead.

Enjoy your bounty.

Aunt Becky said...

Crappy (ahem, AWESOME) tabloids make going to the doctor and the hairdresser that much more worthwhile.

Law Student Hot Mama said...

I'm telling you, you're missing out on Perez Hilton . . . trashy? Yes, but a total guilty pleasure.

Backpacking Dad said...

I don't understand why those two are lumped in as "tabloids".

I mean, just because every story contains an iteration of "a source close to the star said" doesn't make it a tabloid.

That's just good journalism.

Sources do indeed say. That's all the footnoting I need in my news.

THE MOM BOMB said...

". . . crime, depravity, self-loathing, drug abuse, adultery, financial and emotional bankruptcy."

Nuh-uh, girlfriend. Could care less about that. You know what I live for? The spreads of celebrities with cellulite. Or the candids where they catch them looking godawful.

Yep. I'm THAT shallow.

Abbie said...

HAHHAHA Oh I just love you! This is so funny!! I don't buy them either, but IMMERSE myself in them whenever I visit my mother-in-laws house. I like to call it 'catching up with my hollywood friends'. :)

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Half the reason I get my hair and nails done is to catch up on People and Star guilt free!

Heather said...

My mom is a fan of those 2 publications as well. I'll admit I peruse them when I'm at her house and I see them laying around though.

Vered said...

No, not a bad person at all. :-)

It's like being addicted to soap operas. It's soothing. It's easy and doesn't require any effort or concentration.

I love reading those when I go to the hair salon. It's double the guilty, vain, shallow pleasure.

The Boyds Family said...

They're great to pass the time when you're standing in that very long line at the grocery store. :)

Happy Reading!
Yvette

jakelliesmom said...

I used to frequent the online gossip sites, too, and decided the break would suit me. I don't miss them, though on occasion, I will take a peak.

But Star & Enquirer, well, from what Oprah's told me, those stories aren't always true, and as fiction, they're actually rather entertaining.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

My favorite headline ever:

Onlookers Gawk in Horror as Space Alien Impregnates 8-Year-Old

It's 20 years old and still cracks me up - "gawk in horror" - oh, I love that.

Julia Cameron (a writer) raves about tabloids also. The writing in them, I mean.

flutter said...

Um. I uh, kind of love gofugyourself....just sayin'

Amy said...

Luckily for me, my sister reads them - she fills me in! As long as someone diseminates the info it doesn't matter who read them! =)

Jen said...

LOL.

OK here's my confession. The people who lived in our house before us didn't change their address with their magazine subscriptions. I return them to sender, but I usually can't resist sneaking in a few articles out of O magazine. Then I feel guilty and go to the store and buy it so I can read the rest.

Someone Being Me said...

I don't know how you do it. My life would not be complete without Perez Hilton, TMZ, Lost, Grey's, and many many other shows. I am impressed.

Karen said...

What a fun family tradition to pass along. LOL

Brittany said...

I love that she puts them on your bed! haha. Too funny.

My sister always has Cosmopolitan in her bathroom... I admit. I sit there and red all about the best sex positions and whatever other nonsense is involved. We all need some sort or release, right?!

MommyTime said...

I love this because I always want to read these things in the checkout line, but I never do. And then I wonder, WHY are they fighting over Suri? And are there cute pictures? And who won? And I never know. It doesn't keep me up at night. But it does keep me out of the loop. I'm glad someone is staying in there and learning all the "truths."

E said...

Harmless. We all have them. Yours is cute and funny and fine. It is. Really.
I listen to Dr Laura for God's sake. She is a US radio psychologist and a fairly right wing nut job. I love her. I am a lefty liberal, who sees five hundred shades of gray to her singlular black and white universe. So what?
I don't smoke or drink. And I bet you don't either....

angie said...

I'm a gossip magazine closet addict......like you, I would never buy one, but when I'm somewhere where they are available, I always pick them up....also like you, I never watch TV. Have never seen most of the shows you listed, and find that I've never even heard of most shows other people are into....:)

Elaine A. said...

They are bad, but they are sooooo good too! HA!

I have a good friend who is Welsh and I love it when her mother comes to visit the states b/c she brings the British rags. It's fun to read those too!

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

Fun!
I always say how much I hate that stuff, but when my mother-in-law drops off a bag of magazines at my house, it is always the tabloids I read first. Just a blissful bit of escapism I guess.

Mommy Cracked said...

You owe me no explanation...I, too, have fond memories of catching up on the latest celebrity dish at my grandmother's house while growing up. I'm also guilty of picking one up every now and then to thumb through in the check-out line. And occasionally, I'll buy that really outrageous one...I think it's called the Globe...and give it to my dad. We get SUCH a crack out of the "alien stories". LMAO!!

tricki_nicki said...

Ack, unfortunately I know what you mean! I always feel like some sort of shady character standing in the check-out line staring at the sketchy tabloids. What can I say, I loves me some disfunctional celebs!

Kat said...

Awesome stuff. You are not alone. My bathroom reads consist of tabloids. They seem to help my digestion and I love, love, love to read the gossip. I really do.

Sass E-mum said...

What a dirty reading habit you have. I'm the same. As long as someone else has bought them, they are fascinating and kinda slutty to read.

Somehow the allure fades as soon as it comes to spending my own money on those grubby rags.

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

No shame, as I am a tabloid lover, too, and my grandmother started the addiction many years ago! My mother would NEVER buy them, but would bring them home from my grandma's house. ;)

Our office manager brings in People and I also drool over it. I also tend to read a lot of celebrity blogs. Like you, though, I don't get into much popular TV at all.

p.s. your labels on this post are HILARIOUS

Laura said...

I use to love going to visit my Meme since she got all those magazines too...I loved getting my fix.

Love the tags too.

Cheers!

Stella said...

See I can't do the tabloids but I LOVE celebrity gossip and People and US!!

Lisa said...

You. Are. Fabulous!

I LOVE all of that junk too. Sometimes I feel like a complete glutton for indulging in all of the nonsense, but it's just that - an indulgence & a break from reality.

PS - I just saw Angelina confirm on the Today show that it is indeed twins - due August 19th - wowzers!

Mental P Mama said...

That is great! And it appears that you are genetically predisposed to this addiction, so you're off the hook!

Kyla said...

Hahaha! It is in your blood, you can't resist it. ;)

mamatulip said...

Oh, honey. I am a celebrity gossip addict. We all have our vices.

(Your tag? "I'd like to adopt Suri"? Cracks me UP.)

Mandy said...

I'm addicted to www.laineygossip.com

But I've always wanted to pick up a Nat'l Enquirer at the grocery store just to read more about the tantalizing front cover story. I always chicken out. Too afraid of what the person behind me will think if they see me reaching for it.

Thank god for online celeb gossip I can indulge in in the privacy of my own home... with only my husband to ridicule me. :)

Jaina said...

I've never actually read one, but I can't help reading the headlines at the checkout stand.

crazymumma said...

I LOVES me some nasty tabloid!

crazymumma said...

I LOVES me some nasty tabloid!

Kami said...

My smut it People magazine! I totally get your addiction though my mom would never be caught dead reading one of those. So I am the enabler and the website is not helping. I quit buying the mags because of the waste of paper issue....

Here's a thought though. Do you think you will save them for Graham?

:-)

Kidding!

Kathryn said...

Hehe. This is too funny. I love People and Star too, but I refuse to buy them. Unless, maybe, perhaps, I'm going on vacation and need something to glance at on the plane. Or in the car. Or...
Oh just forget it.

Indy said...

I love them too! I wish I had a way to get them free like you. On vacations I let myself buy them. Sometimes my hubby will bring them home as a gift from a trip (probably found them on a plane). So glad to know that I am not the only one.

motherbumper said...

Now that's an addiction that we share. My enabler lives in my building and leaves them as temptation for me. OMG I hate to miss a week. But when I'm really sick or just feeling lousy, I'll shell out for my own - it's like chicken soup, but not.

La La said...

You crack me up! Everyone's got their somethin' to get them through the day!

Deb said...

LOL! I get really irritated when my doctor calls me in quickly from the waiting room, because they usually interrupt me as I'm thumbing madly through People, US and all those guilty pleasures I never allow myself to buy.

OHmommy said...

Dude. My husband is a Dentist.. he gets all those for free. I will pack up a suit case for us to giggle about.

I. Am. So. On top. Of. Things.

Tracey said...

Ok, while I have no clue what is happening in celebs' lives, I DO like to keep up to date on my own personal celebs: my blogger friends. So, in a way, I guess I am a tabloid junky, too...

chelle said...

hehe My grandma used to get them too! And my husband cannot resist a good National Enquirer! hehe Ooo the guilty pleasures!

Feener said...

i get my fill from perezhilton.....

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

Do you mean to tell me you do NOT want a burnt leather coaster thingy? Are you actually suggesting that those burnt leather coaster thingys are joke gifts?

I am appalled. (and really close to ordering you one...or twenty!)

Hallie

shay said...

oh I love the celeb gossip too!
I read but never buy People! AND I secretly read the crap gossip sites...shhhhhhhhhhh!

Have fun reading!

Motherhood for Dummies said...

I am sooo right there with you! It is wrong that literally, I have Us Weekley and Stars in my lap and I am getting ready to read them as soon as I am done blogging? :)

Kathy said...

I'm more of an US Weekly girl myself. And like you I have never seen any of those major tv shows either. I can't tell you how many people want me to watch just one episode and that "I'll be hooked". Unfortunately I am driven to reality tv like you are to The Enquirer. So sad. But so good.

ps I'm totally going to try that fish on the grill next time! Thanks for the suggestion!!

Karen MEG said...

I love that guilty look on your face, it's killing me LOL!!
I have an aunt who subscribes to People... and I head straight for the latest issue whenever I visit her too ;)

Laski said...

I so get it. They are cheaper than trashy novels and they have pictures!!!

Clearly, an escape!

April said...

I have unread New Yorkers lying around from back when Edwards was running, but I complete my Entertainment Weekly that arrives on Friday by Monday morning...to pass on to co-workers :)

C said...

Ooooh! What a great post, Kelly! I'm guilty of being a little intrigued by celebrity gossip. I'm much better now though! Star, People and a handful of others catch my attention when I'm in line at the check-out at the grocery store. I don't actually buy the magazines. I'm one of those people that the cashiers hate. You know the ones...the ones that read the magazine while in line and then put it back before paying for the groceries! LOL!

I have bought a few issues...uhhh...for my ESL students! Yeah, uhhh...that's right! So they can practice reading in English! ;)