After weeks of hurling invective, and occasionally, paper plates, Ms. Magazine Rack and I parted ways a few nights back. Feeling slightly like hours-old soup, I flashed upon what the MPA has been telling us for years: magazines are a "trusted friend," a "beacon in the dark night sky," an "opiate for the masses" (wait, that was Karl Marx talking about organized religion). I thusly resolved to find myself a magazine and weep on its supple, ad-supported bosom.
It seems, however, that no such "warm, enveloping hug, but with adverbs" exists for dudes, unless you're really into pinstriped trousers. So I grabbed the next best thing: Cosmopolitan.
I admire the dickens out of this publication. It doesn't take itself too seriously, and it doesn't aspire to anything beyond airy, mindless entertainment. Additionally, as opposed to other former trendsetters, Cosmopolitan hasn't rested on its laurels. It continues to spit out epic cover lines like "The Article That Can Make You Feel Happier Almost Instantly" and, 40 years in, remains stalwart in its grail-like quest for the ear-poppingly intense female orgasm. It uses "booty-texted" as a verb and hyphenates it properly. If my plumbing downstairs were any different, I'd devour this thing in about 32 seconds. That's a compliment... I think.
The contents of September's "40th-Birthday Blowout" (again with the spot-on hyphenation!) issue are almost beside the point, really. Readers can "lift Ashley's look" or ready a mental checklist of "moves that make guys squirm." A person with the majestic moniker Brooke Le Poer Trench surveys the nature of "Love and Lust." An autumn-ready blouse here, a randy confession there... It's all good.
The birthday/anniversary content merits a closer look. Although any such coverage is self-congratulatory in its very nature, Cosmopolitan pulls it off with style and even occasional self-deprecation. The mag revisits old headlines ("Living With the Pill" must have seemed borderline sacrilegious back in November 1968), reproduces the notorious Burt-Reynolds-on-a-bearskin-rug shot (medic!), and checks in with the cover gals of eons past. Cosmo also plays the milestone for laughs, asking male contributors to suggest their dream cover lines ("Want to Know How to Look Hot Naked? Take Your Clothes Off")--and revealing a sampling of photo-shoot secrets ("Hair is supposed to be big. Really big.").
Elsewhere, the September issue offers a range of stories not commonly associated with Cosmo (at least not by fellas who aren't perusing its pages on a regular basis). Part one of a planned two-part "Gyno 411" series provides copious information about fertility, debunking any number of well-entrenched myths. "What You're Dying to Know About" surveys living wills in the post-Schiavo era, while "Real-Life Reads" (oh happy hyphenation! Be still my beating heart!) relates the story of a lawyer working to free prisoners who claim to have been wrongly convicted of violent crimes.
To be sure, the issue has its dippy moments. At 20, Scarlett Johansson has almost nothing vaguely interesting to offer in her Q&A, and the "Body Language of Liars" is a weak excuse to run a bunch of topless shots of hunky-dunky guys. And the magazine relays less legitimate insight about plus-IQ men than Cat Fancy does about aardvarks. But who cares? On just about every page, Cosmopolitan delivers what it promises. As much as any title in the history of magazine journalism, it is impervious to critical nitpicking.
So here's to you, Cosmo, so secure in your mission at 40 that you haven't even considered Botoxing yourself within an inch of total paralysis. May you continue to grace the bathrooms and boudoirs of gals across the nation with your sprightly banter.