Subscription Conscription

Frank and I get a lot of magazines. This is not, strictly speaking, our fault. I've never been a magazine person, really, or even a newspaper person. The newsprint hurts my fingers, and I hate feeling bad about having all that paper around. I prefer to read things online, where they are free.

But so it all started a few years ago when I got a subscription to Wired. I can't remember why, exactly, but I started getting it and I liked it. At the time, there were large swaths of it not available online. Meanwhile, Frank's roommate had a subscription to Entertainment Weekly, and over several years of bathroom visits, Frank developed an affection for old EW.
When we moved in together, he talked about getting a subscription, but they were pretty expensive, so it never really happened. Then one day I had all of these frequent flyer miles that were going to expire. They weren't enough to go anywhere, but they were enough to exchange for some magazine subscriptions, which apparently you can do now. Who knew.

So I went and signed up for Entertainment Weekly, thinking "What a nice gift. I am a thoughtful girlfriend." Only that didn't use up all the miles. I scanned the list for other titles that I might want, but the pickings were slim. I remembered vaguely liking Esquire one time when I'd read it at a friend's house, so I got that. I'd gone to a good party sponsored by Jane magazine once, so I got that too.

I got into this "eff you airlines for making my miles expire" mindset, so despite the fact that I absolutely did not want any of the magazines I signed up for, I used up every last one of the miles. To give you an idea how bad it got: we now get Maxim.

I figured that after a year I wouldn't renew the subscriptions, the magazines would stop coming, I would feel that I'd gotten my miles worth, and all would be well with the world. Only it's more than a year later, and not only have they not stopped, they've multiplied. For some reason we get two copies of Wired now, and New York magazine, and a bunch of things I've never signed up or paid for. For a while I was getting Sports Illustrated in Spanish.

Our upstairs neighbors, with whom we share a mailbox, get exactly one publication: the New Yorker. I'm not sure what they think when they open the box and see that it's stuffed with lad magazines addressed to me. I'm sure it's nothing flattering. I suppose I could call the subscription offices of all of these magazines and ask them to stop sending us their publications, but a) that seems like a lot of work and b) since they're just lying around, I end up reading them. It's like an ecological niche in my time that I never knew was there: magazine time. When I'm half watching TV or waiting for Frank to be ready to go, I now thumb through Esquire instead of staring blankly at the wall and humming tunelessly to myself.

Perhaps that was their plan all along, to get me and my fellow internet-only readers hooked by inundating us with free, mysterious magazine subscriptions. It's kind of embarrassing to have a house that looks like a dentist's office, though. I hide all the magazines under the coffee table if we're having people over, because I feel like it makes us look icky. I mean, think about it: what sort of a person would choose to pay for Maxim? And not just at an airport, but deliberately plan to have it delivered to their house every month?

A person like me, I guess. Magazine companies, your creepy, over-attentive love has made me a convert, sort of: yesterday I sent in a subscription card to the New Yorker. At least I won't have to hide that under the coffee table.