Years from now, I will tell interviewers that the idea came to me at a supermarket magazine rack as I leafed through Lear's and Mirabella and waited to pay for my groceries. Before opening these publications, I had no understanding for the genius of Frances Lear and Grace Mirabella, no appreciation for the audacity of deciding to put out a magazine for people who were exactly like them.
In fact, at first, this seemed kind of stupid to me. I thought, given my extensive exposure to the subject, that I would be bored by a magazine for people who were exactly like me. But I was wrong. I realize now what Mses. Lear and Mirabella have known all along. Magazines are not really magazines. They are clubs. You don't subscribe, you belong. And what better group to belong to than one composed of people who are exactly like me.
With that in mind, I am announcing the birth of an exciting new publication, Jim's: The Magazine for Guys Like Me.
Our immediate agenda at Jim's is to make guys like me famous. Since it's my magazine, I'll go first. This presents certain problems, because guys like me are notoriously modest. We don't like to be photographed. Nor will we sit for the kind of interviews necessary for a full biographical profile.
But guys like me are not difficult. Or reclusive. To dispel that notion, the initial edition of Jim's: The Magazine for Guys Like Me will feature a full-page photograph of me, Jim, peeking out from behind a wall. Only the left side of my face will be visible. Brief facts about my life -- "Jim was struck in the stomach by the first pitch thrown on Opening Day of the North Scranton Little League's 1967 season." -- will be used to fill space when articles run short.
That ought to get people interested not only in guys like me, but in people who love guys like me. That's why that first issue will feature "Jim's Mom: Isn't She Great?" as well as "Jim's Wife: Don't Even Think About It."
We were thinking about running Jim's mom's picture on the cover, but that would be a mistake because guys like me generally hate people who get their pictures on the covers of national magazines. So we decided on blue. Just blue, with maybe some words like "Here's another copy of Jim's: The Magazine for Guys Like Me."
Another thing that guys like me hate about magazines are the arty shots of famous women in provocative poses. Except that we don't. We just want people to think that we do. So, rather than expose our readers to the embarrassment of being caught looking at an erotic photograph, Jim's: The Magazine for Guys Like Me will offer a special phone number. Just dial 1-800-SEXYPIC and someone on the other end will whisper "Ellen Barkin" or words to that effect. Readers can take it from there.
As guys like me know, sports are nearly as important a part of our lives as photographs of Ellen Barkin. The problem with sports, however, is that many major athletes are, in fact, reprehensible. That's why we at "Jim's" have devised the "Dirt Bag Derby," which pits two of your favorite stars against one another in a test of character that will prove who is the more loathsome.
Aside from such incisive opinion-shaping articles, Jim's: The Magazine for Guys Like Me will bring you the best in entertainment news. Our Bruce Springsteen bureau will call up the Boss every day and ask him if he has anything he wants to tell us. We're also working on a spirited defense of "thirtysomething" called "I Just Like It, So Get Off My Back." And readers are sure to feel a nostalgic pang when we revisit the New Foundations, those musical wizards who recorded "Build Me Up Buttercup," the first single that guys like me ever bought.
Unlike other guilt-inducing magazines, Jim's will not run any articles telling you how to do something yourself. Guys like me are terrible at doing it ourselves and we hate being reminded of it. That's why we've initiated a section called "Don't Even Try." In these pages we will chronicle all the things that can go wrong when you set out to paper a wall, shingle a roof or put up even a single shelf. Later issues will describe the most common household accidents, almost none of which occur when using the Yellow Pages.
Perhaps the backbone of our publication will be the monthly columns. The most important of these will deal with personal finance, because guys like me tend to tie up our money in low-yield investments like Metro fare cards. Our "How-To" section will open with a piece called "Too Much Black: Talking to Your Wife About Her Wardrobe." Meanwhile, in "Clothes and Stuff," a noted psychologist will explain how to overcome inferiority complexes caused by wearing the worst-looking shoes in the room.
Jim's also will feature a special humor section called "Cutting Remarks." In the first issue this will consist entirely of nasty things to say to people who drink white zinfandel. (This to draw attention from the fact that we cut our chardonnay with strawberry pop.)
We at Jim's (and that's mostly just me right now) are confident that guys like me will love this magazine. But as evidence of our good faith, we offer the following pledge:
"Jim's: The Magazine for Guys Like Me promises to flatter you incessantly, tell you almost nothing you don't already know and assist you in selecting accessories that will make it easier for you to feel that you are just like me."
Prospects for our success in this venture look pretty good. Baseball cap manufacturers have already purchased two pages worth of advertising in upcoming issues. Plus, our overhead is low because we don't have to do any market research about what guys like me want to read about.
In fact, we are a bit worried that the magazine will become a sensation. Guys like me hate sensations. We print T-shirts: "Like Jim Before Jim Was Cool." We become alienated and embittered. In our later years we write memoirs: "Guys Like Me: How They Ruined the World for Guys Like Me."