About three months ago I started receiving O, Oprah Winfrey's print magazine, in the mail. I have no idea why, either. I didn't subscribe to it, and everyone who might have purchased a gift subscription for me swears they didn't (any of you want to confess? E-mail me, it's driving me crazy.)
The magazine is very nice, as big and glossy as the lady herself, with lots of pictures. Unfortunately I'm not too interested in fashion, make-up, changing my throw pillows monthly, or the wisdom imparted by Dr. Phil or Dr. Oz or Finance Suze. Celebrity experts make me too nervous; I'd rather stick to the garden variety who aren't worried about their next close-up. I've also never watched Oprah (even back in the eighties when I did watch some television, I skipped it) so all of the show references are likewise lost on me.
I wanted to get something out of this magazine, so I've checked out the recipes in each issue. While they're very photogenic and apparently quite nutritious, my family would not willingly consume any of them. Some of them I don't think my crew would touch even if you held them at gunpoint. Imagine my guy coming home after a long, hot day working in noisy equipment rooms to the delights of grilled peaches with yogurt and pistachios, or the perfect summer salad of heirloom lettuces, wild arugula and fennel drizzled in a apple cider vinegar/raw garlic/Dijon mustard-based dressing. I can almost hear him asking me if my menopause has restarted just before he sneaks out for Bob Evans.
On a side note, when did lettuce go heirloom? I thought they only did that to the poor tomatoes. Is no vegetable safe from these people?
Of course then there are the books. Oprah does love books, and there is plenty to be read about what you should be reading. The July '12 issue is jammed packed with recommendations, articles, a bunch of cute young thang authors all dressed up pretty, and the inevitable beach reads (perverse soul that I am, I hardly ever read anything at the beach; I pick up shells, take pictures of the birds and check out the really interesting graffiti.) Oprah has also started a new book club, which seems to be the e-book version of the old club.
I don't buy the books that Oprah recommends, and I think I know why; simply reading the blurbs depresses me. Not that I have anything against books of the horrible-personal-event-that-I-bravely-survived sort, or the horrible-ficitional-event-that-ends-very-badly-for-everyone-involved-but-should-make-you-feel-better-about-your-crap-life-unless-you're-so-depressed-after-reading-the-book-that-you-decide-to-end-it variety. Evidently these alligator tear jerkers are considered moving and inspirational, so if that's your poison, by all means, drink it.
Actually I have read one book that Oprah recommended some years back with Ye Old Book Club, a book she in fact made very famous (not because she did; I had to read it as kind of a professional courtesy. Long story.) When I limped to the finish of that one -- and it was one long-ass nightmare of a slog, let me tell you -- I felt a bit like a deer frozen in the headlights of an unmanned freight train carrying several dozen tanker cars filled with corrosive toxic chemicals about to derail and wipe out a town in Pennsylvania. For only the second time in my life I wanted to shout at everyone I knew to run from a book.
Since the Os started arriving I've been sticking them in the guest room, but honestly, I don't want my guests reading this stuff. I have no heirloom lettuces, no arugula, no pistachios. And I hate yogurt. After Dad died I didn't shoot up heroin or walk my way across the Pacific Northwest, tempted though I was. My poor opinion of O's content could be envy-born, though. I mean, the tremendous amount of thought and research and craft that must be involved in writing such classic articles as $30 Bag! $15 Ring! $40 Dress! is frankly beyond me and my modest writing superpowers. Yes, I think that's probably it. I'm jealous.
When it comes to gifts I know it's the thought that counts, and I am genuinely touched that someone thought enough of me to send me a subscription to O. If that is the case, it didn't turn out to be a good match, but maybe next time you could check the gift-script box for Archaeology or National Geographic or even Popular Mechanics. Until then, I thank you on behalf of me and all the patients waiting in the lobby at my physical therapist's office, who will be reading my Os from now on.