Posted by: stillironic | February 8, 2010

“The New Yorker”

I could say I started reading “The New Yorker” magazine when I was in junior high. That would have made me quite the literary sophisticate. Back then, there was nothing I enjoyed more on a Saturday afternoon than paging through a stack of “New Yorker”s.

But first there was dusting and vacuuming. I was the family’s unpaid cleaning service, though truth be told I enjoyed cleaning house; a clean, tidy house was what I would certainly have ALL THE TIME when I grew up. Chores done, I’d curl up in a chair in the living room and open a New Yorker. To look at the cartoons—the drawings in “New Yorker” parlance.

There was something illicit about those magazines. They came from a man I remember as dressed pristinely in a black suit and bowler hat. Every once in a while he gave my dad a stack of magazines. “New Yorker”s and “Fortune”s were the ones I remember.

The man’s name was Stan and he was unmarried. He was ruddy, handsome, fiftyish. I pictured him reading his magazines in a slightly fussy but serene apartment with a scarlet velvet sofa, oriental rugs, oil painting on the walls.

There might be a mother tucked away in a room somewhere, drinking sherry. This is how I imagined him and neatly tied up his life.

High school was probably when I started actually reading the magazine. The New York I read about in the Talk of the Town column corresponded nicely with the New York in “Miracle on 34th Street,” my favorite childhood Christmas movie. The New York I moved to after college was captivating, gritty, and uncompromising. I found how difficult it was to keep an apartment neat and clean. I discovered that life is messy. I also got my own subscription to “The New Yorker.”

© 2010 by Virginia Gerhart



  1. Have you read this great piece on Paul Krugman?

    • I did. It validated my feelings that during the Reagan administration something so wrong was going on–though I’d been focusing at the time more on what the Republicans were doing to exploit racism.

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