Not Chosen, Just Posin'

I just got a job with a Jewish magazine. I'm not Jewish. They think I am.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Exhibit A:

“Dear Tide, I am writing to say what an excellent product you have…”

This might come as a shock to some of you, but sometimes magazines write their own 'Letters to the Editor' sections. In fact, I wrote a few brilliant notes to myself for the upcoming issue.

The art of self-praise falls into the same category as those old Tide commercials, where the voiceover is thanking Tide for removing the red stain, which was left on the author's white suit the other night when she was shitfaced, err, hosting a dinner party for her upper middle class neighbors and their ideal all-American families (a son and a daughter. The son is the eldest. Both have blonde hair). Thanks Tide.

This is to say that, surprise!, no one really writes to Tide (or at least I hope not). It's just their ad agency. Duh.

Coincidentally, no one really writes to us either. Well, we get a few here and there, but nothing substantial. This is not an isolated case. It’s been true of the other magazines I’ve worked at as well (three before this, to be exact). This is not necessarily an effect of people disliking the magazine either. There are plenty of explanations. Perhaps you only received three letters but have enough space on the page for five. Or, maybe your audience doesn’t have time to share their thoughts with you. Even moreover, maybe they liked it but didn’t feel compelled to write and say so. This is what I like to tell myself anyway.

I’ve become so good at writing these letters that I can tell a fake a mile away. Takes one to know one, right? Exactly. There are subjects that will elicit 'Letters to the Editor' and there are ones that just won’t. For instance, throw in a story about a miraculous recovery from a fatal illness (bonus: by a woman) and your mailbox will be overflowing. General interest and travel stories though? Not so much. Fiction? Never. (In fact, if you are not a highly-regarded magazine, stay away from fiction. People will feel sorry for you.) Magazines will generally not receive praise for their mere existence either.

Exhibit B:

“Your magazine is a standout; it provides such diverse insights, provocative topics and assumes readers are intelligent enough to grasp some personal meaning from them. It pushes us to think about people, places and ideas we might have missed. Thank you.”


Now, writing letters to myself as a Jewish housewife has proven to be quite the challenge, given that I’m not Jewish nor a housewife.

So, here’s to trying:

Exhibit C:

“Dear Editor, Thank you for the recipe for kosher pomegranate chicken last month. I had it translated into Spanish so the help could actually read it (I never understood why they couldn’t just learn English – If you know, please advise). Esmeralda whipped up a wonderful batch for us to break fast with on Yom Kippur. Later that night, I caught her sneaking out the leftovers to feed her 18 children (What's wrong with those Catholics anyway? Isn't it about time they lifted the whole condom ban?). Seeing as how I had just cleared away my sins for the past year, leaving me with a blank slate, I indulged in publicly berating her and reduced her hourly wage by a dollar. Thank you The Unidentified Jewish Magazine. You saved me $40 a week. As an aside, might you consider offering the recipes in Spanish? I don’t really get down with poultry.”

Verdict? Also:

I'm very longwinded.

All of this is to say, if anyone out there wants to contribute 'Letters to the Editor' for next month’s issue, you know where to find me. Kind of.

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