The Glory of UK Tabloids

Hello, old friends! I’m writing to you today from Leeds, England, a city that I now travel to with some regularity for work. Leeds is actually a lovely little city. It’s got great shopping, beautiful architecture, and even the homeless people here call me “love,” which is certainly a nice change from “bitch ass.” That said, my absolute favorite thing about the UK is still, without a doubt, the ghoulish, sensationalist tabloids that you can only buy over here.

What’s that, you say? You don’t know which tabloids I’m referring to? Well, boy, are you in for a treat. Here – instead of trying to explain what I’m talking about, I’ll just show you two of my favorite covers from last week.

1. Take a Break 

Caroline Nierman

Take a Break is a stellar example of the kind of pure and good journalism I’m talking about here. Honestly, there’s so much going on with this cover that I don’t even know where to begin…IT’S ALL TOO GOOD.

First of all, if your 11 year old son wants to kill your whole family with a knife, is it really still appropriate to say that he’s ‘perfect?’ I feel like that’s a character flaw that should at least knock him down a few points to ‘great, except for that whole bloodlust thing.’

Also, what, exactly, does it mean to keep one’s ‘double’ in a wardrobe? Are we talking about a clone here? And how big was the wardrobe? It was probably the size of a studio apartment in the East Village, anyway, so I don’t really get why that’s such a big deal.

Lastly, how does a person go straight from having nothing more than a cough to having both of her goddamn legs amputated?! Surely there must have been a few intermediary steps between the two? If not, I’m pretty sure that person has a promising lawsuit on her hands (assuming they didn’t unexpectedly chop those off, too).

2. That’s Life! 

Caroline Nierman

Frankly, “That’s Life” seems like a very pessimistic name for a magazine that publishes stories with headlines like ‘Mum Seduced My Man as Our Baby Died.’ Is that REALLY just life? I sure as fuck hope not! Jesus.

And what kind of shameless funeral antics are we talking about? All I can picture is a sped-up montage of two people miming different sex acts while the Benny Hill theme song plays in the background at a funeral. Truly ghastly – but I’m desperate to hear more!

The headline that really caught my eye in the store, though, was “Dodgy Op: I could fit my HAND inside my BOOB,” because HOW?! From a logistical standpoint, I mean. Although the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that having a secret pocket inside my boob could have its advantages. Going out clubbing and don’t want to bring a purse? Just throw your debit card, a fiver and your favorite red lipstick inside your boob and you’re good to go!

The real question is, why don’t we have magazines like this in the US? I’d much rather read schadenfreude-inducing stories like these than whack American articles about Kim Kardashian’s favorite salad fixins. Get with the program, People Magazine!

The 5 Worst People You Could Meet in the ER

When I left my apartment at 11pm this past Saturday to take my small dog, Jack, out for his night walk, I never expected that a mere hour later, I would be sitting in the waiting room of the Lenox Hill ER with a bleeding, lacerated eyelid. Long story short: in an effort to prevent Jack from engaging in a toothy grappling match with an even smaller dog, I picked him up, at which point he started thrashing around like a catfish, scratching my arms and accidentally catching his tooth on my poor, delicate eyelid in the process.

Of course, the only appropriate response to having my eyelid torn open by my dog’s fang was for me to immediately take him home and then collapse to my knees in my front hall while calling out weakly for my fiancé. I vaguely recall muttering the phrase “he hurt me” around 15 times from my spot on the floor before I finally decided to quit whining and have a look in my bathroom mirror to assess the damage. There, I was confronted with a rather gruesome sight: a bruised, bloodied and sliced right eyelid that definitely had to be looked at by a doctor ASAP and possibly stitched back together. I burst into tears all over again, not because my eye hurt (though you know it did), but because I was terrified that I was about to walk into an ER that would be packed with sick and/or badly injured people. While my fiancé and I hurtled down the West Side Highway in the cab to the hospital, I mentally compiled a list of the 5 worst possible archetypes that I could encounter in the ER. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. The Puker: I have a severe vomit phobia, one that’s so bad that I will switch subway cars if I think there’s even the slightest chance that another passenger is about to throw up. Owing to my severe aversion to barf, I was extremely worried that I would have to sit in the waiting room next to someone who was spewing uncontrollably, possibly into her handbag out of sheer desperation. I decided that if I walked into the ER and saw any single hint that someone was throwing up, my only course of action would be to accept the fact that I would now have to spend the rest of my life with a Fetty Wap eye and go back home.
  2. The Wailer: I get that everyone deals with pain and stress differently. With that said, it would be really shitty to have to deal with your own pain and stress while someone else is howling histrionically right next to you. I can deal with low moans, sure, but I knew that if I were forced to listen to someone caterwaul with reckless abandon while waiting to see the doctor, I would have no choice but to put that person in a sleeper hold and lower them gently to the floor, blissfully quiet at last.
  3. The Belligerent, Rich Drunk: Unless I’m drunk myself, I absolutely cannot stand drunk people. They’re loud, they’re sloppy, and more often than not, they’ve forgotten their ability to regulate their emotions back at the club. Given that the Lenox Hill ER is located in the West Village, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in New York City, I had visions of being trapped in the waiting room with some entitled, boisterous, wealthy douchebag in a whale belt who had injured himself while doing something like sabering the cork out of a bottle of Dom Perignon. I actually wasn’t too worried about having to confront this archetype, mostly because I was pretty sure that someone else would beat me to the punch – literally.
  4. The Chatty Cathy: For some reason, strangers in every country I’ve been to always insist on striking up conversations with me. I think it might be because my version of “Bitchy Resting Face” is “Friendlier Resting Face Than I Intend to Have,” and I’ve got a habit of raising my eyebrows in repose, which must look like a signal that I’m a bit simple and would be happy to talk to literally anyone because it means they’ve noticed me. Listen, I’m as gregarious as the next guy, but there’s a time and a place for small talk, and it sure as hell isn’t while you’re waiting to be seen by a ER doc at midnight on a Saturday when you’re wearing your pajamas and bleeding from the face. I’ve often thought about the best way to stop an unwanted conversation before it starts, and I’ve come to the conclusion that this problem is most quickly solved by listening to the Chatty Cathy’s opening line, pausing momentarily, and then responding by squealing like a pig as loudly as I physically can. I’ve never tried it, but I’m pretty sure that this technique would also be a great way to get someone to give me their seat on a packed subway.
  5. Brad the Impaled: Every now and then, there’ll be a story in the news about some luckless fool who accidentally impaled himself on a spiked metal fence and had to be rushed to the ER with a 3′ long iron pole sticking out of his abdomen. Every time I hear a story like this, I physically shudder with horror, and I live in fear that one day I’ll be unlucky enough to witness this kind of horrific mishap, because that’s some straight up Final Destination shit right there and I don’t need any curses passed onto me, thank you very much. I think I would actually faint if I had to wait in the ER next to someone who had been impaled, and while one would hope that this kind of injury would grant you an immediate admission to the hospital, I do vividly remember a particularly horrifying anecdote that a doctor I used to work with once told me about a former patient of his. The guy had come into the ER, waited patiently for a few hours until his name was finally called, and only THEN revealed that he had A 10″ KITCHEN KNIFE LODGED IN HIS GODDAMN BACK. Shudder.

Miraculously, when I finally arrived at the ER on Saturday, it was completely empty – completely! – which meant that all of my neurotic planning had been for naught. Plus, I didn’t even have to have my eye stitched, although I did have to have it surgically glued together and bandaged with an unsightly, Nelly-circa-2003 steri-strip that I have to keep on my eyelid for a full week.

In closing, this experience taught me two important lessons: one, that I shouldn’t pick up a dog who is in the throes of a blind fury, and two, that I shouldn’t worry trouble until trouble is barfing into her Kate Spade tote next to me.

Great, Now I Might Be Living Over a Portal to Hell

You can imagine how pleased I was when I stepped into my building’s lobby the other day and was greeted by what appeared to be The Book of Shadows sitting on the communal table by my elevator. It’s kind of a thing in this building – people leave their old crap on the table downstairs in the hope that their 1970’s guide to parenting or half-consumed jar of Nutella will go to good use, insead of where it belongs (in the trash).

Sure, the cover of the book says that it’s something benign, pleasant, even: The Standard Treasury of the World’s Greatest Music. With that being said, I’m pretty sure that given its faded, burgundy cover and spooky vibes that this book contains all of the secrets to the world’s evil and should never be opened by the weak, fleshy hand of a mortal.

We’ll put it like this: I just hope that B and I are out for a walk with Jack when some idiot finally comes along, cracks open the cover and turns my building into a portal to hell.

Why I’m Against Rolling Backpacks

I would rather my kid have a scoliotic back for the rest of his life from carrying heavy textbooks as a tween than for him to have to carry the internal shame of having been the kid with the rolling backpack, because that shit is way heavier. Once I saw a kid with a rolling backpack fall head-first down a flight of stairs, and let me tell you, that backpack was close to lethal when it landed on top of him. I’ll never forget the tableau of the poor guy as he lay in a crumpled heap at the foot of the stairs, his cuffed sweatpants exposing his skinny ankles in all of their tube-sock-clad glory, the fallen backpack open next to him with papers falling out. This truly depressing sight crystallized my opinion that the rolling backpack is more a form of cruel and unusual punishment than a helpful tool to prevent your child from slipping a disc.

What I’ve Learned from Compulsively Watching True Crime for 20 Years

1. If you absolutely have to go to Washington state, do everything in your power to avoid going to Snohomish County. Nothing good happens in Snohomish County, Washington. Just look at Ann Rule’s body of work – she made an entire career out of writing books about horrific crimes that have been committed in this one small region of the country. (Seriously, she wrote, like, 50 books about terrible, random murders that have all taken place in Snohomish County.) Judging from the Ann Rule canon, which I am deeply familiar with, if you spend enough time in Snohomish County, there’s an extremely good chance that you will be viciously attacked close to your bus stop and battered about the face and head by the light of the Washington moon.

If you’re a sportier type and prone to hiking, you could also get killed on Snoqualmie Pass. Snoqualmie Pass seems to be a mountain that is extremely dangerous not because of its treacherous terrain, but because it attracts psychopaths like moths to a scenic flame. If you absolutely have to go to Washington state and you absolutely have to go hiking, do everything in your power to avoid hiking Snoqualmie Pass – that is, unless you’re in the mood to grapple with a knife-wielding, AWOL soldier who thinks he’s still in Vietnam.

2. If someone seems like a pervert or a killer, he might very well be a pervert or a killer. Humans have a sixth sense for a reason – that little voice in your head is millions of years of evolution telling you that it’s probably a good idea to quicken your pace when passing that gentleman who’s dressed in a soiled trenchcoat and scratched aviators and screaming expletives at no one. Is there a weird dude driving your cab? It’s okay to get out of the cab if you feel like you’re about to get Bone Collectored in it.

3. If you discover that the lock on the window of your ground-floor bedroom is broken and you’re missing a few pairs of underpants and your hairbrush, leave the apartment immediately. There’s clearly a creepy teenager loose in your neighborhood who may very well have masturbated into your sock drawer while wearing one of your hats. Go stay with a friend or a relative until that lock gets fixed and call ADT.

4. Always be extremely punctual when going anywhere and never miss or cancel any plans with anyone. Also, pick up your cell phone every time someone calls you. That way, people will realize pretty quickly if you go missing. They’ll say things like, “Well, I knew that Sarah must have been in the trunk of a sadomasochist’s Kia when she didn’t text me exactly at 11pm like she always does.” What I’m trying to say is, don’t be a fucking flake like me, or else if you do get kidnapped and call someone for help, your lifeline will just be like, “Yeah, sure, Sarah, you’re in the trunk of a sadomasochist’s Kia. It’s always something with you. I’m just going to order without you,” and hang up.

Human Ken Determined to be Fiercer Than Human Barbie

The real, human versions of Barbie and Ken met each other for the first time the other day, and The Daily Mail wrote an article about how much they each hated the way the other one looked. See the news story here.

Here’s the problem, though: Human Ken isn’t Human Ken as much as he is a clone of Janice Dickinson. Go look at the photo of him in the link above and then come back and click on this one. Am I wrong? They have the same face, for crying out loud.

It would’ve saved this guy an awful lot of time if he’d just taken a photograph of Janice Dickinson throwing shade to his plastic surgeon and said, “Give me that face, but make it even FIERCER.”