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Jewish World Review June 29, 2001 / 8 Tamuz, 5761

Barry Rabin

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Consumer Reports

A "Betty Ford Clinic" for National Enquirer Addicts? -- Move over, Robert Downey, Jr. You may think YOU’VE got problems, what with your recurrent drug arrests, your unceremonious ejection from the cast of Ally McBeal, etc.

But I’ve got an admission that makes even YOUR terrible addiction pale by comparison:

My name is Barry, and I read The National Inquirer!

Let me first point out, in my own defense, that I also read (as time permits) The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Daily Local News (West Chester, PA’s finest) and any other newspaper I can get my hands on and find time to peruse.

But so much for denial, which as we all know is “not a river in Africa.”

It all started innocently enough, one day at my local supermarket, when I found myself making a rare, dreaded appearance in one of the non-express lanes, parked behind about 80 tons of family food orders.

Out of sheer boredom, I began scanning the covers of the various publications on the impulse-purchase magazine racks. Cosmopolitan? Hmm, looks like a teenage anorexic hooker there on the cover…Family Circle? Wow, I wonder how many months it took somebody to cook that meal?

Until suddenly, my eyes were drawn to a full-color, tabloid-sized newspaper-ish publication with blazing headlines and a bright-red masthead.

I can still remember the big cover story today: BRUCE WILLIS SECRET LOVE TRIANGLE REVEALED!!!

Or maybe it was Rock Hudson. Whatever. I distinctly recall that it was a “LOVE TRIANGLE REVEALED!!!”

And so it started. My first couple of times, I merely skimmed through the publication, returning it quickly to the rack when my checkout time came. It all seemed so innocent, so harmless back then.

Until the next thing I knew, I found myself actually volunteering to go to the supermarket. Eventually, I caught myself purchasing a not-really-needed 13th grocery item on these short jaunts, all to make me legally ineligible to use the express lane (12 items or less!), thus assuring me of my weekly read.

Until one day –out of town on vacation, far away from the watchful eyes of friends and neighbors – it happened: I actually BOUGHT a copy!

And that’s when my nightmare truly began.

As shameful as it is to admit it, friends, I have an Enquirer on my back.

I could give it up at any time, mind you. And I don’t read it every week, any more than many dopers get high on a daily basis.

I also haven’t yet stooped so low as to actually subscribe to the thing; part of the “thrill” is the dirty, yet exhilarating feeling one gets from slapping it down on the counter at the local market, in between the breakfast cereal, assorted produce and turkey dogs.

But how would I live without it now?

At this juncture, I feel obliged to somehow explain to you the prurient “high” one gets from reading this lowbrow weekly rag. The only way I can figure to do so is by comparing it against my other weekly tabloid-sized rag: The Washington Post’s “National Weekly Edition.”

As I write this, in fact, I sit flanked by a recent week’s issue of each. You be the judge:

Most Exciting Headline, Enquirer: HILLARY KICKS BILL OUT!

Most Exciting Headline, Post: WHEN SILENCE MEANS YES – The New World of Negative-Option Marketing.

Number of pages with full-color photos, Post: 5.

Number of pages with full-color photos, Enquirer: All of them!

Most interesting display ad, Enquirer: “Power V” Herbal Supplement,” with photo of passionately embracing semi-clothed couple writhing on beach.

Most interesting display ad, Post: “Rodelsonics IX” (“Rid your home of varmints and pests once and for all!”)

Number of pages devoted to [alleged] gory details of Clinton marital discord, Enquirer: 2.

Number of pages devoted to [alleged] gory details of Clinton marital discord, Post: 0.

Articles about N.R.A. president & has-been movie actor Charlton Heston, Enquirer: 1 (Headline: “I’M ONE WELL-PAID APE!”).

Articles about N.R.A. president & has-been movie actor Charlton Heston, Post: 0 (Closest headline: “MOULIN ROUGE IS A BRILLIANT TRIBUTE TO THE BOHEMIAN ERA”).

So there you have it, friends. If there’s a Betty Ford Clinic somewhere for cheap, sexy tabloid addiction, I hope somebody will send me there. (Do you think they’d let me out to go grocery shopping?)

JWR contributor Barry Rabin is a lawyer and humor writer (REALLY!). Comment by clicking here.


06/19/01 Our Privacy Policy: You HAVE None!
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04/27/01 The next depression could be great!

© 2001, Barry Rabin