When I buy Us Magazine or Star at the newsstand near my old college campus, I’m always wary of a former professor seeing me and so I compensate by buying something more typical of someone of my academic background, say, Smithsonian or The New Yorker and sandwich the pulp in between them, bologna between slabs of foie gras.
“It’s research,” I say when caught in the act, blushing. “I’m brushing up on current culture in case I get on Jeopardy.” I auditioned for Jeopardy once but didn’t make the final cut; I’m not sure if a Kardashian or a Real Housewife was to blame, but these magazines may yet pay off, supplying me with names of B list actors and reality TV celebrity-wannabes and musicians that I know nothing about but my fictional characters might. It is research, after all! You don’t think I’d read them for pleasure, do you?
Okay, I’m guilty, I do. And according to ‘Stars Are People Too’, so do the stars. Those who aren’t suing the same magazines for libelous content. Gossip is fun when it’s not about you and most of it isn’t true. Like any true academic, I start my read by deconstructing cover stories; ‘ANGELINA LEAVES BRAD AND THE KIDS!’ just means she walked out the door to get the mail. Of more abiding interest is who had a hissy fit or wardrobe malfunction, which make screaming at the driver in front of me or toilet paper stuck to my shoe pale by comparison. Who hasn’t had a meltdown or done something we know is immoral, illegal or fattening? Fashion Police is fun; it makes me think of the numerous times I’d like to make a citizen’s arrest when I see someone mixing checks and plaids or displaying too much cleavage of any kind. Hey, you in the express checkout with rollers in your hair- busted! It also makes me rethink my color choices before I walk out the door. And yes, I imagine at least some of my fictional characters would read them too.
I finish off my guilty pleasure by doing a crossword- see, I needed brain power for that after all! What’s a six-letter word for the name of a girl with poufy hair?