More than you want to know

January 22, 1998|By Kevin Cowherd

GIVEN THE increasing specialization of magazines and the inability of people to keep anything private these days, I guess it's no surprise there's now a magazine called Divorce.

You would think -- at least I would think -- that someone going through a painful divorce would not want to read articles such as "She Threw a Plate at My Head!" or "All He Ever Did Was Lie on the Couch, the Big, Fat Pig."

Me, I don't see how a divorcing person derives comfort from that.

I don't see why a person reeling from his or her own damaged relationship would want to read columns like "Her Shyster Lawyer Took Me For All I Had" or "Golf, Golf, Golf -- That's All He Ever Did."

But apparently there's a market for this sort of stuff. Because according to a recent article in the New York Times, Divorce already has a circulation of 83,000.

Actually, in the same Times article, the publisher of Divorce insisted his magazine is "not a bunch of war stories about how awful divorce is."

Instead, it's filled with "upbeat tidbits" about divorce, said the Times.

To me, this is like publishing upbeat tidbits about, oh, famine. But maybe I'm just out of step here.

What's alarming is that if Divorce takes off, we may see even more specialized magazines on failed inter-personal relationships.

For example, I see the day when Lying Little Tramp: The Magazine for Today's Adulteress hits the market, along with Tightwad Ex: When the Pennies You're Pinching Should Have Gone to Her, Too.

These might be followed by Battle-Axe: For Domineering Wives of a Certain Age and Mama's Boy: For Grown Men Still Hiding Behind Her Apron Strings.

Inevitably, someone would publish Modern Floozy, crammed with self-help advice and inspiration for the "other woman."

Filling out the subscription cards for some of these magazines would be interesting, too:

"Yes, I'm cheating on my wife, too! Please send me 12 issues of Philandering Today for the low, introductory price of $27.50. This, I understand, is a 37 percent savings on the regular newsstand price.

"If I stop my alley-catting or I'm not completely satisfied with the first three issues, I understand that Philandering Today will cheerfully refund my money!"

I don't know -- where does this intense specialization in magazines end?

Is it just a matter of time before there's a slick glossy called Salad Bar Times: For Those Who Eat Out, But Eat Healthy?

And then can C'mon Back, C'mon Back: The Journal of Parallel Parking be far behind?

The thing is, how much do we really want to know about some of these topics?

It seems the sub-specialization of magazines reached a new level of absurdity a few years ago, when Walking magazine came out.

In the first place, I couldn't believe there was a publishing company that actually felt there were thousands of would-be readers out there clamoring for new insights into walking.

But out of curiosity, I picked up the premiere issue of Walking, which I expected to be about one page thick.

I figured the whole magazine would consist of one of those "tips" articles that went like this: "Place your left foot forward. Now place your right foot forward. Repeat."

And that would be that. After all, what else was there to say about walking?

Well, as it turned out, the folks at Walking had lots more to say about it.

Way more than I wanted to know, that's for sure.

The premiere issue was crammed with articles, stuff akin to "Should You Walk in Loafers?" and "Walking With a Cold: One Man's Story" and "Walking in the Garden State: We Stroll Through Parts of Bayonne, N.J.!"

Interspersed throughout the magazine were striking color photos of various incredibly healthy-looking walkers, all with the same eerie, euphoric smiles on their faces.

These were lanky guys with prominent Adam's apples and thick beards and fit Germanic women with clear, blue eyes and deep suntans striding determinedly up picturesque green hills at sunrise like the Von Trapps on a family outing.

"Well," I thought as I thumbed through that first issue, "that pretty much covers everything you need to know about walking. No need for a second issue, that's for sure."

Because, again, what more could there possibly be to say about walking?

But sure enough, issue No. 2 of Walking came out anyway.

And in it there were stories on the order of "What If I Want to Walk Backward?" and "Do I Have To Use My Feet to Walk?" and "Our Experts Speak Out: How Long Should You Wait After a Meal to Walk?"

Any day now, Breathing Life: For Those Who Inhale and Exhale will probably hit the newsstands.

If they charge anything over $2.95, it's a rip-off.

Pub Date: 1/22/98

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