next: Part 3
In the mail that day came her first magazine subscription. Her selections had been handpicked at the café on the corner, next to her new building. It had taken quite a bit of browsing, but narrowing down wasn’t too difficult a task.
Newsweek covers were too unpredictable. The New Yorker was too pompous, James had said so, hadn't he? Utne Reader was too off key, besides which they smelled newspapery. Reader’s Digest was for old people. And for those whose homes smelled of old quilts and pot luck leftovers; the type with Publisher’s Clearing House return envelopes, always neatly stamped, sitting quietly on the table by the door, ready to be personally handed to the mailman.
No to health and sports magazines, they sent a subliminal message that their incumbents were in need of a way to relax or were not as healthy or shapely as they ought to be. No, definitely not. And Martha Stewart Living, while it was tidy and organized, gave entirely too much information; one could get “too caught up”.
Better Homes & Gardens had a new look and nice shape, it would do nicely. She flipped through and, ah, yes, there was the loose card, ready to be plucked.
She then settled on The Economist which seemed rather scholarly; it would be perfect on the bottom and just out a bit. She leafed through the magazine looking for the loose ordering card. Didn’t they all have one? Perhaps this copy was defective. Or perhaps she wasn’t the only one taking advantage of the loose advertising. She smiled at this thought, and as she did so, her eyes, shifting up, glanced over the magazine rack, and met the gaze of the barista boy who burnt his hand on the espresso machine. Soula felt awkward for his clumsiness. Hoping not to cause him any further embarrassment lest he noticed her stare, she averted her glance, and went back to her search.
She opened the next The Economist and the next. Well, she would have to tear this one out. Not very economical of them, she thought. She hated the sound of tearing paper. It sounded violent and angry. For a brief moment she thought of moving on to a subscription that didn’t require so much effort. But rather than give up on the idea she chose it anyway, creasing the perforations then tearing slowly so that the sound was more of a detachment, and tucked it into her purse.
She scanned some more. Fine Gardening was a nice magazine to wait with on the couch. She was right, the card slid out before she had a chance to flip; a good omen. And Architectural Digest, boring, but a page turner, and often expected in nicer homes. These she knew had a loose card because she had scanned them many a time before at the houses of her father’s acquaintances.
When she reached the door to leave, she stopped for a moment. She had chosen only four magazines. That wouldn’t do. There had to be an odd number. It would be a designing faux pas to group together an even number. It wouldn’t be pleasing to the eye. It wasn’t natural. There were 365 days in a normal year, not 364. There were seven days in a week, not six or eight. Even children knew that. All childhood games relied on there being some sort of coherent unevenness, to make things fair. Soula finally settled on National Geographic. She could feel worldly while glancing at impressive photos from all over the world. She really ought to have thought of this one first.
continued from Part 1
next: Part 3