I suffered quite a scare at the doctor’s office this morning. Thankfully it wasn’t of the "will I ever walk or play the piano anymore?" or the "how long have I got?" variety. It was more of the "I really wish I hadn’t seen that in print" variety. Stress and nervous tension are major social problems and it is in order that this situation should not in any way be exacerbated that the following fact will now be revealed in advance: everything worked out in the end and I will, to the best of my knowledge, live happily ever after.
I’m not a frequent patron of my local GP but I seem to recall that there’s rarely anything of interest to read in the waiting room. I’m usually stuck with a cover-less 1980s edition of Vogue, reading about the most popular shoulder pads and leg-warmers and the next season’s promised slap bracelets. You can understand my mini leap of glee when I spotted the trademark yellow border of a National Geographic in the far corner, part covered by a collection of Mr Mens. Walking over to pick it up I experienced a moment not dissimilar to discovering that the ship about to rescue you from the deadly ocean has just hoisted a jolly roger. The headline of the cover story read “Was Darwin Wrong?”
Blink. Uh, no. I couldn’t just let it slide, let a popular science-oriented magazine (one that my family subscribed to for nearly twenty years at that) print such a story. Were they giving in to the same journalistic principle of "balance" in the face of reason that plagues much of the popular press (and presumably the unpopular press, but I don’t read that)? After fumbling through the pages for longer than should be necessary—they don’t print page numbers on the advertising pages, nor do they count them when numbering the other pages, so I eventually found page two on around the fourtieth page—I found the beginning of the article. In my rage I didn’t even look at the accompanying photography. A two-page spread carried just the title of the article, “Was Darwin Wrong?”. "No!" I thought to myself again. I turned the page. The next page was taken up a single word printed in the largest type that would fit on the page:
The article itself continued in the same style that that first word had established. It was really quite standard as that type of "face it; it’s a fact" article goes, but it really dragged me in with that big bold "No". The lesson, if one feels the need to draw a moral out of a blog post, is of course not to judge a magazine by its cover. Alternatively the lesson may be that it’s simpler and all-around less emotionally troublesome to stick to the Mr Men books.