Years ago, Mom would come back from Saturday grocery shopping, usually with an issue of the latest National Enquirer. Do you remember that one?
Remember the commercial? A voice would come on and say “Enquiring minds want to know!” Then, a series of people would respond with “I want to know!” in between the voice reporting on some of the top stories in this week’s issue.
As a kid, I accepted everything in that paper and read it cover to cover. There would be outlandish stories with “hook” headlines like “ Noah’s Ark Found in Chicago Suburb” or “Elizabeth Taylor’s Gardener Speaks Out.” There would be sob stories of people down on their luck who used to be rich and famous, or a story about a lady in Tennessee with 28 children and a set of triplets on the way. On and on it went.
To me, it was all gospel. I read each story with wide-eyed curiosity.
I remember going to the playground the next day and scandalizing my friends with stories I’d read about. Finally, a wise and more mature classmate who probably never believed in Santa Claus piped up.
“My mom says that it’s just a trashy rag paper.”
I had no idea what “trashy rag” meant, other than the vision I had in my head of some oil-covered cloths in our garage or a piece of an old pillowcase Mom used for dusting.
I finally asked one of my parents what “trashy rag” meant and after they told me, I felt a little let down. You mean, the kid in Bismarck didn’t really find a dinosaur bone in his sandbox? The ghost of Fatty Arbuckle wasn’t really haunting a movie theater in Philadelphia while a group of ladies held a seance? Was the story about the lady with the alien transmitter in her head really made up? I mean, the story about her being kidnapped by aliens and then going to the doctor complaining of migraines made sense to me.
So, I wondered if the “trashy rag” was still around. Upon doing a little research, I found out that the National Enquirer really started in the 1920s, but didn’t become a sensationalist tabloid until the early 1950s.
Over the years, the paper has often reported side stories based on breaking news reports. When Elvis Presley died, the paper’s readership skyrocketed due to the coverage of Presley’s death, a photo of his open coffin, and various “witnesses” reporting on everything from his last words to the tale that the singer wasn’t really dead.
It seemed the public couldn’t get enough.
Even with its “gossip rag” status, the National Enquirer has managed to be the first to report on a slew of stories that ended up being true. I can’t begin to list them all, so do some Googling some day when you have a minute or even care to.
I haven’t seen any newstands in several years, mainly because I move at breakneck speed when I’m in a grocery store. I rarely browse, and I never even notice a shelf of magazines anymore. So, I kinda thought maybe the paper didn’t exist anymore.
On the contrary. The National Enquirer is still alive and well. Of course, the 21st century incarnation includes an online version, so out of curiosity, I visited the website and took a look at the more modern-day paper of my youth.
Much like DIY shows or “The Bachelor” on TV, I started something I couldn’t seem to stop. I hate when that happens. I hate when such drivel manipulates and entices me.
Did you know Jim Carrey is down and out and depressed? Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner had a street brawl, and Lady Gaga gossiped about Caitlyn Jenner during a coffee date with friends. Robin Thicke is in the midst of a prenuptial crisis, and sweet little Miley Cyrus reduced Liam Hemsworth to “rubble.” I’m not sure how she did it, but Dolly Parton was involved.
I was relieved to hear Ryan Seacrest and Ellen Degeneres mended fences – even though sources say Seacrest is not sincere.
I didn’t even know they were mad at each other!