Monday, June 9, 2008

I Can Feel Superior

by Meredith Norton

Lately I've been having these rants about how irresponsible Americans are. I'm glad the dollar is falling; that'll teach us to feel superior. I'm thrilled gas is $4.50 a gallon; maybe we'll stop driving so much and walk somewhere for a change. I bought a Prius; but can't feel pious because now, with two cars, my carbon footprint is even bigger. Most recently I've been irked by how much food Americans waste. We have these huge fridges filled with rotten leftovers. I decided not to buy any more food until we ate everything in the cupboards and freezer. It took weeks. Nobody starved, but meals were disgusting combinations of beans, bulgar wheat, and canned beets, things I don't know why or when I bought them. When I finally returned to the grocery store I discovered, while waiting in line, that in my absence all hell had broken loose: George Clooney had broken up with his girlfriend, Angelina and Brad have been giving baby Shiloh ice-cream for breakfast, and anger still lingered over some mysterious thing Sharon Stone said about China. Also, and, most disturbingly, there was some strange movement of Texas Mormons committed to wearing pioneer clothing. "What the frack was happening?" I marveled at the quickly realized and profound depth of my ignorance.

Steadfast to the pledge I made after the tragic death of Princess Diana to not directly support the paparazzi, I refrained from purchasing any of the magazines lining the grocery store checkout aisle. Instead, I went to the gym, sat motionless on a recumbent bicycle, and read the gym’s already-purchased-not-my-fault, sweaty, dog-eared magazines for half the afternoon. That was all it took to catch up on a month’s worth of missed "news." These beautiful people had nothing happening. Not only was I never going to buy another celebrity gossip rag, I was never going to read one again. What a waste of three hours. I regretted not pedaling.

Two days passed before I got a call from my agent. People Magazine had printed a really good review of my book LOPSIDED. There was even a picture of me. Imagine that! Almost four million images of my head gracing coffee tables and waiting rooms across the country. I was all excited and called my parents to ask them to grab their copy and read it to me, since I couldn’t buy one or read it to myself.

"We don't get People," my mother stated. "I don't even know who half those kids are. Seriously, who is Hillary Duff?"

"But you and Daddy must get 20 magazines. You have a subscription to Cheerleading." Neither of my parents nor my siblings ever cheerlead, but each month the magazine, brimming with tampon ads (menstruation must be a real issue with cheerleaders), sits on the foyer table with my dad's name and address printed right there on the cover. "You don't get People? Really?"

"Really. But I'll get this one. I can't say I don't know you."

Well, what's my excuse supposed to be? I thought. I hadn't purchased a celebrity magazine since 1997. That is a wicked, long time for someone like myself to stay true. But breaking my new vow after just two days was wicked lame. I thought about it for a minute and decided that my eleven-year no-buy history was like a carbon offset credit that covered not only renouncing my two-day no-read vow, but also buying every single issue of People Magazine the drug store had in stock. And if that wasn't sufficient, I realized that People Magazine is actively improving our culture by bringing literature reviews to the masses. That is a noble effort and it is my duty, as a writer, to support them. In fact, it would be irresponsible not to encourage all of you readers to do the same. Go out now. Look for the People Magazine with Jodie Sweetin (talk about not knowing who these people are) and her meth-free baby on the cover. Flip to page 48. That’s my peanut head in the bottom right corner.

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