When I was but a young lad of spirit pure, I arrived in Emmaus, Pa., for a job interview with the Rodale folks. They ushered me around campus, outlined their bold creative vision, regaled me with tales of dental plans and adjustable office chairs. The early part of the day went by in a mesmerizing blur, though I distinctly recall being impressed by the cafeteria's abundance of vanilla pudding.

And then I blew it. Faux-casually, the two fellas started to ask my opinion of various Rodale publications. When they referenced Prevention, my response was something along the lines of "what's a Prevention?" I later learned that it's a wee little magazine sold at the supermarket checkout and read by approximately 14 gazillion women every month. Casting disappointed glances at one another, the guys quickly terminated the interview and had security escort me off the premises. They didn't return any of my follow-up phone calls; the courts eventually intervened with a restraining order or three.

As a result, I blame Prevention for having deprived me of the opportunity to live and work in glorious Emmaus--home, as Wikipedia informs me, to "several residences and other properties...labeled historic sites by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania." I started plotting my revenge this morning, when I arose in a panic realizing that I didn't have a magazine for today's column. Oh, revenge, she's a dish best served cold... or is it sweet? I can't cook, either.

But really, I don't have anything negative to say about the May issue of Prevention. It is what it is: a cheery compilation of healthy-livin' tips for mommies. It breaks no new ground on either the editorial or design fronts; it aspires to little more than personality-free guidance. It is the magazine equivalent of comfort food.

Prevention packs itself so chock-full of information, maybe the only way to approach a critique is by first noting what it doesn't include. As best as I can tell, the May issue contains no tips about mummifying corpses. It does not offer any advice for PTA leadership succession in the event of an Ebola quarantine, nor does it give suggestions for zombie-proofing one's rec room.

Outside of those inexplicable lapses, the May Prevention offers so much information as to render readers dizzy. Health tips, beauty tips, recipes, more health tips, fitness regimens, parenting skills, homeopathic remedies... If some gal journalist out there needs a dippy idea for a first-person magazine story, she should try to follow every nugget of advice meted out in an issue of Prevention. Frankly, I think she'd conk from exhaustion by page 57 ("Mascaras that'll double your batting average"), but I'd lay down $1.99 to get the ugly details.

Wisely, Prevention helps users keep track of it all in a front-of-book index, even if a handful of the annotations ("condo for kitty") could be misinterpreted by those with filthy, filthy minds. Come to think of it, there's nary an item here that strays into even PG-13 territory; only the foldout photo of a 1950s pinup used to illustrate "the smartest ways to defuzz for summer" could possibly be deemed risque, and then only by card-carrying members of the Moral Majority. The issue does, however, pose the question, "Do your breasts have a drinking problem?" I'm going to let that one pass without comment.

The cover story on "Grey's Anatomy" starlet Katherine Heigl asks us to accept the author's silly contention that the actress is "better known for her assiduous promotion of organ donation than for the sort of scandals that plague other celebrities her age." Um, sure... but she's still blonde and smiley, right? The issue's other features fare much better, especially the A-to-Z guide to dealing with the summer sun and the room-by-room "Healthy Home Check-Up." Both items transcend the obvious-to-anyone-who's-not-a-drooling-moron pap that usually populates such stories.

As for the other 7,655,387 items in the May issue, let me sum them up as best as I can: "cultivating a vision of calm" helps you de-stress, handbags are good for carrying your things, and beets are nature's candy. You don't know it yet, but I just saved you three hours of reading.

On its cover, Prevention boasts that it proffers "smart ways to live well." I'm not too sure about the "smart" part; "simple" might be a more appropriate adjective. I also don't entirely buy the mag's supposed all-things-for-all-women inclusivity, as the May issue entirely dispenses with images of fat people and non-whites. That said, I can see why Prevention occupies a treasured place on many a mommy's bedside table: it delivers loads of information in the most readily digestible format imaginable. If the formula works, why mess with it? Rodale sure knows its way around a solid service magazine, if not a smart circa-1997 hiring decision.

Next story loading loading..