I admit it – I love magazines. And I have a continually growing stack of them on my bedside table to prove it.
And yes, I read them all. Not necessarily cover-to-cover (who has time for that?), but I read the articles and features that catch my interest.
And my magazine obsession got me to thinking… which magazines meant the most to me when I was ten? Sixteen? Twenty-seven? Thirty-nine? (Let’s stop there, shall we?)
Here’s what I came up with.
Jack and Jill – This was the first magazine I remember buying. While my mom did the grocery shopping, I made a beeline for the magazine rack by the cash registers and grabbed my copy.
One feature story sticks in my mind. A family loaded up their station wagon and went off on vacation, traveling from Nevada to California. But halfway across the Mohave desert, their car broke down. They were miles from anywhere. This was before cell phones, when there were still great stretches of Nevada desert and deeply rural areas where you could, literally, disappear. They survived for several days by eating… crayons.
I remember taking an experimental bite out of one of my Crayolas, just to see what it tasted like. It was waxy. Not very tasty. But if eating a couple of Sky Blues and Forest Greens meant the difference between life and death, well, I decided, I could do it.
Mad Magazine – I bought my copy at the local 7-11, along with a Slurpee and a pack of Chicklets or Bazooka bubblegum. Then I’d settle down for an uninterrupted hour or so of Spy vs Spy, parodies of the latest movie or TV show, the Mad Fold-In, and whatever other gems of irreverent wisdom were contained therein. I learned that politicians were mostly full of crap, our toys were garbage and our cereals were sugary teeth-rotters, and that satire – and Alfred E. Neuman – was king.
Cosmopolitan – Ah, the ‘Cosmo Girl.’ She breezed through life – and men – with nary a care. Yes, the Cosmo girl was all about getting a man – but not necessarily for keeps. She had fun, she had great sex… and then she moved on. Carrie Bradshaw was a Cosmo girl, with a nineties dash of feminism. Although I wanted to be a Cosmo girl, I never really was. (I guess I just didn’t do ‘breezy’ very well.) But I learned a lot from the articles.
Good Housekeeping / Redbook – Recipes, fashion, and articles about clipping coupons and improving your relationship (“Can This Marriage Be Saved?”) were just the thing for a young newlywed. From learning how to stretch hamburger twenty-seven ways to re-covering your dining room chairs, GH had the answer. (After all, they don’t give something the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for nothing.) And Redbook always included a novel in the back of every issue. Bliss.
Red, Woman & Home, Easy Living - Right now, I’m loving British women’s magazines. And Red is the one I grab off the shelf first. Whether it’s Rosie Green’s amusing, yes-that’s-exactly-what-men-are-like stories about Alpha Male, or Dorrance’s charming “Mimi” cartoons, or Viv Groskop’s book picks, I always enjoy the tantalising glimpse into women’s everyday life in the UK.
It’s reassuring to know that British women worry about wrinkles and staying slim and managing stress just as much as us American women do. We’re not so different, after all.
And it’s also reassuring to know that most of the magazines I grew up reading are still around, ready to entertain, instruct, and show a whole new generation how to pinch pennies or make lentil burgers or choose the most flattering shade of lipstick.
(But, a word of advice – if you really do want those sun-kissed streaks in your hair, go to a professional and get highlights. Because believe me, that lemon juice trick just doesn’t work…)