{ Sunday, February 02, 2003 }

True Confessions.

My roommate is by far the coolest.

She went to the Pop Culture Store down the street from our house (it's just called "Pop Culture"), and I've been in there before... I really like the guy who owns the place and he has some neat stuff. It's pretty new and I haven't seen a website address for it yet, but if I do, I'll be sure to pass it on.

So, Emma went to the Pop Culture Store and bought some vintage magazines. Including, for my benefit, a "True Confessions" from 1961 and a "True Romance" from 1959. They are everything that I love about the current editions of those magazines, only to the umteenth degree.

I love "True Confessions", "True Romance", "True Story", all of those magazines. Have you read one? Oh, they're great!

See, at the summer camp, we used to read those stories out loud as a group (the counselors only). They're worth it simply for the quotes you can get... "Tim was a good husband and an excellent provider. We had cattle and land." will cause a group of girls to spend the rest of the summer reassuring eachother "Honey, someday you'll find a good man, with cattle and land. And there won't be any Saturday Night Sex Club to ruin your marriage."... "Then there was Lenny, dirtier and scummier than the rest of them."... well, that story ("I Was A Teenage Truck Stop Whore") led itself to a fabulous parody by Justinian ~ "I Was A Teenage Crew Girl Whore" set at the camp.

"I Give Your Husband Sex Lessons" was about someone from Kentucky prostituting her way through her Ivy League education. We all turned to LB (as she was from Kentucky and attending an Ivy League School) on that one....

And in the end, most of them follow the same format. Girl has crush on guy, girl gets guy, girl and guy defy the odds and get married, they have babies, guy dies in some horrible accident and she meets someone else/she cheats on him and he leaves her/plot device of some sort to introduce the second guy, one of these guys turns out to be a bum, she leaves him/he leaves her, if the second guy was the bum and the first guy is alive, she repents/if the first guy was the bum then he repents, she takes him back and they're happy/she doesn't take him back and has regrets.

Stand By Your Man. They crack my shit up.

The vintage ones are better yet. Stand By Your Husband. Be A "Good" Wife. A Woman's Place Is In Her [huband's or father's] Home. If You Lie To Your Loved Ones Someone Will Die And You Will Only Have Yourself to Blame. One of my favorite things about these is that when the woman goes wrong, she always has at least one dead parent. And she blames said dead parent's lack of involvement in her life for her indiscretions... I haven't found one yet in which the young wife couldn't pop out a couple of babies. I'm hoping that one of these magazines will contain a touching story of infertility.

And then there are the ads... "Let's talk frankly about personal cleanliness"... the douche ad. Except it's so frank that they use words like "delicate area" (their quotes) instead of vagina or even the less offensive birth canal. All the women in the stories have babies, why can't we talk about the birth canal? Why are we talking around it with terms like "delicate internal tissues"?

I must say that I am quite happy that I can laugh at these and I'm not reading them and thinking "Wow, what a wonderful story. Her husband came back and forgave her and she quit her job and they lived happily ever after with a little less money. Millions of women don't have dryers, but they do have happy marriages."

Or "They were right. It is unseemly for young, unmarried women to live together. What will happen to my reputation? And I'm so far from my parents. I really should move back in with my mother until I land myself a husband."

So, um, thanks, Mom, and thanks all to all the people out there for your work at making these magazines seem silly. For allowing me to live my life the way that I want and not to be brainwashed into thinking that keeping a nice house is the cornerstone of any good woman's life.

I do get that this is a lot like that whole "You've come a long way, Baby" thing. If we've reached the destination, you wouldn't be calling me Baby. There are women out there who don't think these things are purely satire and hilarity. There are women who buy into those notions or who maybe think those magazines aren't poorly written trash. And that's sad.

Meanwhile, I must admit I am like Aunt Phoebe standing in the window of that tar paper shack on the day she finally left town, waving the white hankercheif in the window... I surrender. I think "True Story" and "True Confessions" and all those silly magazines are great so long as you understand they contain nothing of substance.

posted by mary ann 8:33 AM