Why am I receiving Men’s Health magazine? This is now the fourth issue to arrive in my mailbox. It is terrible and I did not subscribe, but it keeps appearing and appearing (and appearing and appearing), at intervals I, in my mail-retrieving irregularities, can only see as completely irregular, as if every so often the universe, by way of the postal service, feels the need to deliver a trite little message about the quotidian, doltish side of the world we inhabit, just when I least expect it—on the weekend, when I’m engrossed in the semi-meditative practice of withdrawal from the very things such a publication represents. Does the universe find this funny? I guess it’s broadly applicable. I am a “men’s.” And I do have “health.”
Men’s Health wants me to know things, marvelously inane things, and it wants me to know them in even more marvelously inane and perfunctory ways. It wants me to know how I can “build big muscle,” for instance, and “boost my testosterone instantly” and “prevent a heart attack” and “fight fat with food” and find “cures for baldness” and “make women swoon” and, finally, “sleep better tonight.” Presumably in that order. It also wants me to consider “divorce: how men are getting screwed” (I love the accidental irony) and asks me, like a coddling aunt, “do you drink too much?” Yes, auntie, I do. And yes, muscle, food, testosterone, heart attacks, and divorce. Yes, those too. Oh, and sex, of course, lots of sex, so much food-muscle-swoon-based sex I’m not even sure I know what it is anymore or if I want to have it. Sex secrets, sex tips (from “him” and from “her”), sex positions, sex problems, sex diseases, sex and divorce, sex and alcohol, sex and muscle, sex and heart failure, sex and testosterone, sex and food, sex and pictures, sexy pictures. “Plus,” it says down at the bottom-right corner of the cover, “lots of other useful stuff.”
I flip through to explore this “other useful stuff.” Oooh, shoes and colognes and watches and belts and glasses and (more) foods and (more) bicepseses and abs and fitted t-shirts and man-enhancing drugs and drinks and vitamins and supplements and (more) secrets and razors. I’d like a razor, but not for shaving.
Ok that’s enough. Jesus tapdancing christ. I saved a few issues of this mind-numbery so I could write about it and now that I have I can finally throw it away. And sleep better tonight, and wake up tomorrow ready to work on my “age erasers: 5 quick fixes she’ll notice.” Who is she? Does she give a shit? She shouldn’t. Reminds me of one of the most magnificent little essays I’ve ever read, by concert pianist James Rhodes, some few years ago in The Guardian’s music blog section. Mr. Rhodes, oh captain my captain Rhodes, in regards to our inverted socio-personal priorities amidst “a society of mourned and misplaced creativity,” in the context of an impassioned, yet kitsch-less insistence that we do the Bukowskian thing and “find what [we] love and let it kill [us],” said this about men’s health:
What if, rather than paying £70 a month for a gym membership that delights in making you feel fat, guilty and a world away from the man your wife married you bought a few blank canvases and some paints and spent time each day painting your version of “I love you” until you realised that any woman worth keeping would jump you then and there just for that, despite your lack of a six-pack?
Fucking right, James. That’s her. And that’s health, the manly kind. I’ll drink (too much) to that. And get back to writing things, true things, truly true things that will surely, truly, and really make her swoon. And I’ll go to the gym tomorrow.