When you finally decide to face it—and your far less frightful utility bills—you assemble the stack strategically to showcase the New Yorker on top, then bestow a superior smile upon your neighbor bearing but a flimsy sheet of Burger King coupons and a copy of The Atlantic down the hall to his dark apartment.
You’re secretly jealous of his sanity in selecting a magazine with a rational monthly schedule instead of this weekly wunderkind with overachiever syndrome.
You position the iconic cover in careful proximity to the succulent on your coffee table and snap for social media. Humblebrag hashtag: #houseplant.
You leave the cover unopened—atop the last eleven weeks’ issues.
You rejoice at the reprieve of the rare biweekly issue (even though you had to give up Amazon Prime and suffer through seven-day shipping to subsidize this subscription).
You gaze longingly at your bookshelf of novels and shelter magazines that you aren’t allowing yourself until you finish your New Yorkers.
* * *
At last, you toss one of your five free New Yorker totes onto your shoulder with practiced nonchalance and schlep the entire contents of your coffee table to your local coffee shop.
You scan the “Goings On About Town” and bemoan your meaningless existence in some secondary city 790 miles from any actual New Yorkers.
You get one-quarter through your first feature article (or so you assume), then peek ahead a page… and another… and another and another and another… to gauge the length.
You continue flipping to all the cartoons.
You return to your original spot and attempt half a paragraph. Then you check to ensure the coffee-shop intelligentsia haven’t glanced up from their Kindle Paperwhites, and you abandon said article at what turns out to be the 1/16th mark. It was (eleven-week-) old news anyway.
You really only read the Fiction. And “Shouts & Murmurs.”
* * *
You resist returning home to confront the rush of guilt when you must send this issue over the precipice of the recycling bin, condemning ten thousand neglected words to eternal oblivion.
So you slide the magazine onto your lap (cover displayed prominently to Kindlers in the vicinity) as you scroll through your phone’s prolific offerings of other highbrow publications, like Facebook and Tinder.
You slip in an allusion to your current New Yorker state of mind in a message to a Bumble crush. Or, why not: you announce your subscription (i.e. your high IQ and your anti-Trump pride) at the top of your profile.
You re-stack all the issues back home on your coffee table for said crush to someday notice and admire.
You begin a sentence (or two) on your date later that evening with the offhand, casual opener: “I was reading this article in the New Yorker… ”
You realize you’re stretching the definition of “reading.” And you’re OK with it.
You order a gift subscription for your brainy new Bumble beau to impress him with your sophistication—and to give yourself free access to his hand-me-down issues.
Your crush keeps the subscription but cancels your relationship, citing something about your insufferable pretentiousness (you’re not sure; you were distracted by this great New Yorker book review you were skimming).
You take perverse solace in picturing him approaching his post office box with dread for the next interminable year.
You settle onto the sofa with the shelter magazine that just arrived in the mail.
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