I was an odd child, I suppose. While regular and need I say ‘normal’ kids who are exposed to family strife live in dread that their parents might get divorced, I used to lie awake at night praying the battling senior Lidsters would pack it in.
I once said that to my late mother-in-law and she replied: “You don’t really mean that.” I responded that she had no idea how much I did mean it. Maybe if they’d been honest about the deficits of their relationship they might have bailed and grabbed much pleasanter lives for themselves.
Or, maybe my attitude merely serves to explain my own checkered marital history. Never did have much of an example of how a good one works and it’s only taken me many decades and a lot of tribulation to get to a point where I think I might have worked it out.
Anyway, domestic life chez Lidster has nothing to do with this blog. What this blog is about is just one little source of confrontation between my parents, and that lay with Reader’s Digest. Wait – I can hear you thinking – how can an innocuous little magazine be a source of marital strife? Well, to Mumsy, who was a practicing intellectual snob, every issue of RD delivered to our home was as invidious as pooping in the front parlor. “Readers’ Disgust” is what she called it in her very own disdainful manner.
Even more offensive to her were the RD condensed books – “More challenging than Classics Comics but not as hard as the real thing,” I believe the slogan went. No it didn’t. I made that up – which the old man also got delivered. I didn’t read those, prefering the real deal with any book.
Otherwise, in truth, I didn’t mind RD, though I had to be circumspect in my perusals thereof. Mom would have actually preferred I read Playboy because in the day it contained articles and interviews that actually promoted thought. But, the point being that if there was nothing else to pick up I’d check out the old man’s RDs.
I never confessed (much as I’ve never confessed to a lot of transgressions) that I actually didn’t mind it, especially little regular features like ‘Laughter, the Best Medicine’ and ‘Lives Like That’. But, the one I liked the most was – and this is the actual motivation for this blog – ‘It Pays to Increase Your Wordpower’. This feature would list a bunch of rarely used terms and ask you if you (multiple choice) knew what they meant.
As an aspirant scribe even back then I wanted to gain mastery of a vocabulary outside the mundane and came of the belief that if a certain word was used three times it would be mine forevermore. I gather Dickens followed a similar process. Or maybe not. I made that one up, as well.
Anyway – how am I doing wordpower-wise? If OK, I can only thank RD. Sorry, Mom.