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!

PSA: Don’t You Dare Drink Hot Coffee on the Train

The other morning on my way to work, I witnessed an interaction that forced me to have a horrifying moment of honest introspection about myself. Picture the scene: I’d managed to snag a seat tucked into the corner on a packed, local subway. As straphangers flooded the train at 96th street, a middle-aged woman staggered onto the car and rushed over to stand right in front of me. She kind of reminded me of Gilda Radner in the face, was wearing what can only be described as zany purple tights, and she had, like, 15 clips of life-sized butterflies distributed throughout her scraggly salt and pepper hair.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good butterfly myself, but butterfly clips in the hair past a certain age give off a real whacko, ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane’ vibe, so I was paying close attention to Madame Butterfly when a very WASPy woman in her forties got on the train with a hot cup of coffee in her hand and stood right next to her. The minute she stopped moving, M.B. immediately recoiled in disgust, threw her hands up in the air theatrically and loudly shouted, “Well, DON’T do THAT!” as she hurried to another spot near the door.

Caroline Nierman
Don’t even THINK about bringing that hot coffee on the subway.

The woman with the coffee looked mildly perplexed and a bit insulted until M.B. gestured to her from her new station across the aisle and said, “You have a hot cup of COFFEE in your hand, and I KNEW you were going to spill it all over me!” Obviously, I was loving this exchange; it was super weird for M.B. to scold a stranger for bringing coffee on the train, but it was extremely enjoyable to watch the one who was being scolded as she silently stewed about it.

Then, in a very That’s So Raven moment, I had a premonition of my future, a future in which I, too, become so neurotic that it seems reasonable to accost strangers on the train about their own life choices because I need to assuage my own irrational anxieties. I never want to be that woman, but I can imagine a Sliding Doors version of my life in which I become her. So promise me this: if I ever try to leave the house with an abundance of insect hair clips in my hair and a Metrocard in my hand, please sit me down and make me re-read this blog post.

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.