I have mentioned recently that my Better Half has long suffered my bemusement in retail establishments. I'm sorry, I can't help it. I consider myself a Roving Correspondent trying to make sense of a world that so often seems incomprehensible.
I think all sources of information should be pondered. So in the checkout line at our local super market I always stop to read the headlines of the "tabloids".
Publications such as The National Enquirer are a fascinating window into a Universe where the trials and tribulations of roughly 100 individuals are laid bare for us week after week. Most of these citizens of Tabloidia go by their first names only, or in the case of the aristocracy, by mere fragments of their names. Brad. Jen. Sometimes their names are amalgamated into fascinating new hybrid forms. Bennifer is one I recall from a few years back.
We are expected to care about these attractive demigods. To celebrate their loves, to agonize over their weight gain. I think we are supposed to view the very public Betrayals and Crises that they endure and feel as if our own lives are somehow just a little better.
So imagine my surprise when I toted my bag of groceries up and discovered that the lot of them, Elvis, Babs Streisand, Bat Boy, the entire cast of Friends....had been banished. Off you go into the obscurity that your real contributions to society probably warrant. The tabloid rack was still there. But it held.....this.
You can still see the names of the publications. National Enquirer, OK!, Star, along with a few "Women's Magazines" that to be fair are one sixteenth of a notch higher in literary quality. But what is actually for sale here are, as it says up top.... "Adult Coloring Books".
I can think of many possible explanations for what I am seeing here. Most likely these are in fact coloring books for children. Sloppy errors in labeling are too common in stores. You would think that I would have just picked one up and peeked inside. But I did not do so.
Because I was afraid of what I might find.
Now this is a family market in a reasonably wholesome community, so I am pretty sure the content would not be the sort of thing you would stumble into if you were to Google up "Fantasy Land".
It might be worse than that.
Have literacy standards fallen so far that Celeb News written at a fourth grade level has become as incomprehesible as Sanskrit?
Of late there has been a bit of grumbling about so called "fake news", tantalizing stuff that is cranked out as click bait and as shiny objects to divert, distract and mislead. Have we as a society lost faith not only in the traditional outlets for "Real News" but also in the long established purveyors of "Fake News", the supermarket tabloids?
Has the world become such a frightening place that the recent campus nonsense of offering students "Safe Spaces" with blankets, cookies and coloring books has escaped the mostly harmless Cloud Cucoo Land of delayed collegiate adolescence and is becoming generalized?
Enquiring Minds don't really want to know.
Well one day later the sign was changed. These are coloring books for kids. So there is no cause for concern, right?
Or is there...?