A few weeks ago, my boyfriend Dan and I headed south to Belize.
We were inspired by the pretty pictures that people like to email to the mysterious Ben Olson. You know the photos I’m talking about — they typically feature the submitter excitedly waving around an issue of the Reader while posed in front of one of three warm climate backgrounds (pool, sand, or a pair of beach chairs). The featured person is unfailingly showing off some pasty North Idaho skin for the camera. The photos look bright, and smiley, and, well… happy. Even the issue of the Reader looks like it’s glowing.
“Look, we have to head to the tropics,” I said to Dan, pointing at another snap, this one of a smiling fellow paired up with a brightly colored Reader. “I’ve never seen the paper look happier! Even the political letters to the editor aren’t getting it down! It’s our civic duty to take this poor little home-raised weekly out into the world for more exercise!”
So, we dutifully worked overtime for the last month of 2018 and the first two weeks of tax season, exhausting ourselves to try and free up some time. Then, we packed our bags and flew off into the sunny unknown. A copy of the Reader went along in my little carry-on bag.
I’m here to tell you: North Idaho does not want global exposure. There is a curse reserved for those who try to bring the Reader out of its domain. Bewaaarre the curse.
Sure, you might be able to overpower an issue and wrestle it along with you, but the Reader’s Revenge will silently poison your every move until you bring it back where it belongs, in its snowy moose-trod woodlands. And if your goal is to separate the Reader from its home for more than a week? You’re doomed. Surely you know, a week is the entire lifetime of an issue! Never take a Reader away for more than a week!
The curse starts slowly, and then rolls into an ever-changing cataclysm of despair…
Day 1: Upon your triumphant tropical arrival, you cover your entire winter body religiously in sunscreen, except for your wrists (who sunburns their wrists? Oh, wait. You do).
Day 2: An army of biting bugs applies itself to your sunburned areas.
Day 3: You take so much care slathering sunscreen on your wrists that you forget to sunscreen your unburned sections. Now at least there’s no unburned sections.
Day 4: You stay in the shade and gently apply more bug bites to your face. For intermission, an iguana charges you for the bacon in your breakfast sandwich.
Day 5: Heading to a hiking trail, you take a wrong turn, and then make another wrong turn on the way back from your wrong turn, so that you spend three times as long getting to your trail as you spend on the trail itself.
Day 6: It rains for five hours straight, and you slip in a puddle and tumble dramatically down half a flight of stairs with your luggage. Fortunately your massive bruising is somewhat disguised by your layers of sunburn.
Day 7: (Cue distant drumbeat) you have mistakenly kept the Reader away from its homeland for the issue’s entire lifetime, and you are struck by The Plague to End All Plagues. Delirium ensues.
Day 8: Fever and coughing and kidney pain, oh my!
Day 9: You weakly stumble out to get food, but your two days inside with TPtEAP has left you with amnesia. You forget to wear sunscreen.
Day 10: Your sunburn warms you gently as you cough your way through your plane rides home, scratching like a pox victim and shedding peeled skin in your wake.
Day 11: Just as you’re settling in back home and wondering why you ever left, the reissued Reader delivers one last blow to your unacclimated body: a 30-degree drop in temperature and 40-mile-per-hour winds. For DAYS.
It turns out, the old adage is true: You can’t tell a publication by its cover. I thought the Reader was smiling in all those tropical pictures. It turns out it’s grimacing. It’s making a threatening face and shaking its little newsprinty fist. Don’t believe me? Look back through the digital archive and use that little zoom button on the bottom of the screen. There’s strange things about some of those travel photos.
Do as you choose, but I will not make the mistake of carting off a copy of the Reader again. I’ve learned my lesson: I will leave local well enough alone.
Pollyanna lives, loves and writes from Sandpoint, where she shops locally and works vocally.
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