First, a quick story from my youth.
I once had a babysitter who had stacks of newsstand tabloid magazines. I recall them mostly being The National Enquirer but I believe she had some of the really crazy ones, too. Anyway, I liked to read and since the TV was usually on soaps or the news, I would hide in the corner and work through the latest celebrity gossip.
At some point I began throwing the things I learned into casual conversations elsewhere. Given the timeframe, 1980-81, I would imagine I shared a lot of Loni Anderson news. Anyway, one day I said something especially ridiculous around my mom and she pointedly asked where in the hell I heard that. I shared my source and she then gave me a long talk about how those magazines were full of garbage that wasn’t true and I needed to stop reading them.
I don’t know if I stopped reading them or not; there wasn’t much else to do at the sitter’s. But I am pretty sure I kept my mouth shut about what I learned in them. And I never looked at someone who had their own copy of the Enquirer etc. again.1
Monday the girls and I were at the grocery store and as I moved our purchases from the cart to the conveyor, M. noticed Prince William and Princess Kate on the cover of one of those magazines. She asked, “Dad, what does ‘be-try-eed’ mean?”
“Bee-tray-eed,” and she pointed at the cover of the Enquirer.
“Oh, betrayed. That means you lied.” I went back to loading the conveyor.
“Why did Prince William and Princess Kate lie to each other?”
I sighed. “M., those magazines make stories up about famous people. That isn’t real, Prince William and Princess Kate did not lie to each other. Don’t read those or pay attention to them, ok?”
C. had been digging around in the candy shelves, as she likes to do, but finally tuned into our conversation. With a gasp she asked, “Dad! Why are Prince William and Princess Kate lying to each other?”
Another reason not to take the girls to the grocery store.
- Including, ironically, my mom’s mom. ↩