I love me some comic books!
I have around 4,000 in my possession, dating all the way back to the sixties. They’re filed in these stack-able plastic boxes, neatly lined up on one side of my hallway. Each box has a number on it, and I have this little notebook with an index of what’s in each numbered box. Every book is in its own plastic sleeve with a backer board in it, and the titles are separated by dividers with labeled tabs.
I am obsessive about how my comics are handled and arranged; even doctors filing medical records aren’t as fastidious as I am.
Which is why I think it’s weird that my wife leaves her fashion magazines lying all over the house. I mean, shouldn’t she take better care of them? Sometimes I even chuck a few just to whittle down the collection, and she doesn’t even notice. But yet she’s always looking at them, and every time we go somewhere she brings one just in case she has to sit and wait for something.
Now – like most men – I have definite ideas about what clothing I think looks good on a woman. And also like most men, I am more interested in how the clothing makes the woman look than the clothing itself…
Thus, I never really understood the fashion industry.
It’s not that I’m a complete barbarian when it comes to things women enjoy. Two of my favorite films are Kate Beckinsale’s Serendipity and Sandra Bullock’s While You Were Sleeping; I’m also a big fan of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Elizabeth George Speare’s The Witch of Blackbird Pond, all love stories. Of the novels, novellas, and shorts I’ve written, many are either outright love stories or have romantic sub-plots. I can dig that, I think, because romance is – at the end of the day – a unisex pursuit. Plus I find emotional interaction and drama very fun to write.
On the other hand, I do notice that none of my heroines tend to be fashion-istas; s’weird that I happened to marry one. Seriously.
So I decided to put on my journalist’s cap, and investigate why these magazines hold such fascination for my wife.
I picked up an issue of InStyle; the date under the UPC code said it’s from December of 2018, and the cover features Jennifer Lopez.
It’s very strange, the cover photo. Jennifer Lopez is wearing what appears to be a green curtain, and she’s obviously naked underneath ‘cuz you can see the side of one of her breasts, and her hip. She’s photo-shopped, too; you can tell because virtually all women (especially ones as ‘hippy’ as J-Lo) have these faded stretch marks from their hips widening at puberty, and J-Lo’s are nowhere in sight. Her naked hip just kinda looks like a balloon; maybe the photo-shop guy shouldn’t have fuzzed it so much that he took out her hip bone right along with her stretch-marks.
Why is Jennifer Lopez naked? Did the photographer corner her in her dressing room? And why the curtain? Did she yank it off the window in a panic? Inquiring minds wanna know!
So I opened the cover, expecting to find a table of contents. You know, like National Geographic or Newsweek would have.
Instead of a table of contents, there’s this picture of a pretty brunette holding a bottle. The bottom of the advertisement just says ‘Si’. Across the top it says ‘Georgio Armani’.
What’s ‘Si’? Is it a bourbon? It kinda looks like bourbon from the bottle it’s in, but the ad doesn’t say that. And who the hell is Georgio Armani, anyway? Is he the distiller? His signature is on the opposite page from the ad, kinda like Jim Beam’s signature appears in the whisky ads from my fishing magazines. What exactly is the pretty brunette trying to actually sell me here?!
Next is a jewelry ad; at least I know what they’re peddling. After that comes a two-page ad that simply says ‘Valentino’. There are four women in the ad… or at least, I think they’re women; they’re all a bit on the androgynous side. And who’s Valentino? Do he and Georgio Armani know each other?
The next two-page ad simply says ‘Michael Kors’, and features three very attractive women. Who’s Michael Kors? Is he a pimp? I mean, the picture shows two women in a car like they’re being dropped off, and another woman slipping her shoes back on like she just came out of a cheap motel. You’d figure if this Michael fella were running an ‘escort service’, he’d at least put his phone number on his ad. That’s just common sense.
Finally I said ‘the heck with it’, and flipped ahead to the table of contents… which began on page twenty-eight!!! It’s three pages long, the table, with an ad between each page.
Do you remember when ‘pop-up ads’ were the bane of every computer user’s existence? Thanks to ad blocking programs, they’re mostly a thing of the past. But I know where they all went…
So I flipped ahead to some of the feature articles, which is deucedly difficult to do because most of the pages aren’t numbered. (I suppose Georgio the Distiller and Michael the Pimp don’t like competing with page numbers for space.)
Most of the articles, it seemed, featured pictures of celebrities promising that their ‘go-to’ makeup and accessories will make a gal look just like them. Which sounds nice, except for that picture of Margot Robbie wearing a trash bag, and the one of Nina Bobrev (who?) wearing a Halloween costume that was clearly inspired by one of the Chick-Fil-A cows. The weird thing is, the articles didn’t even mention Hefty and Chick-Fil-A. Much like Michael the Pimp omitting his service’s phone number, that’s just sloppy marketing!
Then I ran into the article about Jennifer Lopez. She talks about her butt a lot, and she never does get around to explaining how she wound up wearing that curtain. (Somewhere in the studio, I’m betting there was a very annoyed interior decorator!)
Then I found this page that listed accessories for ‘the Do-Gooder’, whatever that means. At least the page clearly listed the items being sold, and their prices…
Three hundred and sixty dollars for a bathrobe?! Two hundred and seventy-five for a pair of canvas sneakers?! Three hundred for a braided bracelet with a plastic charm on it?!
What the hell?!
As I closed the magazine in horror, I noticed that the back cover featured an ad for Tiffany diamonds. At least they list their website, so you can find their products and stores. (Tiffany’s is, apparently, smarter than Michael the Pimp.)
I threw the magazine onto the floor, just next to the couch (I always put things back where I found them) and then I headed for the hallway…
It was time to go read Batman for a while.