Tuesday, August 22, 2006

marie claire thinks I'm made of sugar & spice & everything nice

Back in the fall of 2003, I was walking through the books-and-magazines aisle at a local Meijer. I was looking through the magazine rack, hoping to find something to peruse for a few moments while The Wife was shopping. I came across a magazine called Budget Living, which purported to be designed for those who were frugal (read:nearly broke) but still wanted a stylish-appearing home. I flipped through it, and liked what I saw. There were tips on how to save money on a home, there were ideas on utilizing inexpensive gadgets and gizmos for the kitchen... there were even clothing ideas for women AND men, even though the male models wore clothing that I would never consider wearing. I showed the magazine to The Wife, she liked what she saw, and we became subscribers. I put the subscription in my name.

We received the magazine for over two years, but then we suddenly stopped receiving it. What was wrong? Had our check for subscription renewal gone to the wrong place? Had they lost our address? Were our neighbors stealing our issues?

No, none of that. I received a letter - addressed with my name - from the editors of Marie Claire, explaining that Budget Living had, for reasons unexplained but probably connected to money, ceased publication. Imagine that! Budget Living couldn't maintain its budget anymore apparently, so it went defunct. Since Budget Living and Marie Claire both fell under the Hearst family of publications, we would receive copies of Marie Claire until the time of our original Budget Living expiration.

I will share with you a portion of this letter - and tell me if you find some terrible mistake:
You will love Marie Claire because Marie Claire was created for a very special reader like you... a woman who demands substance, style and reality. Marie Claire helps you expand. Takes you to the corners of the earth to experience its sensations. See for yourself!
Notice anything? Marie Claire considers me to be a woman! "... a very special reader like you... a woman who demands..." Had they not just typed in my name at the top of the letter? Let's see - "Dear Matthew Brown:" Yes, they did. I'm willing to say that the name of Matthew is as masculine-sounding as a "Butch" or a "Jeremiah" or a "Malcolm." My name is obviously a man's name. Now, I went to school with a girl named Mattie, and Mattie is sometimes used as a nickname (though it never was for me) for a boy named Matthew. However, in this case, the girl's legal name was Mattie. It was not a shortened form of anything - it was Mattie, plain and simple. In this case, I don't see how the editors could consider the name of Matthew to be anything other than masculine.

I realize that this was most likely a form letter that a plethora of readers received, and the only thing different in each letter was the name so that the subscribers would believe that this was a personal letter sent to them. Probably the majority of those who received such letters were women, so I can see how the letter would include the "reader like you... a woman" line.

But that doesn't make me feel any better. I may have to watch a few more football games so I can feel more like a man. Maybe I'll go beat a drum in the woods. Or perhaps I'll just go take a shower, and not use the loofah and body wash that smells of musk and vanilla...


  1. Thanks for giving me a good laugh this morning. Hope things are going well with the new house. Post some pictures so we can see it. Be sure to change your address for your new mag "Marie Claire" so you don't miss out on how women do things.

  2. Okay, now you both made me laugh...

  3. And your going to do all of those things while watching your favorite T.V. personality, Martha Stewart!

  4. Now this was a funny story! Look at it this way, now you'll get some helpful tips about using that loofah and vanilla body wash. :-) And maybe you could post an occasional recipe! heh.