The first time my tennis elbow started acting up, I remembered I had seen an advertisement for a cure in Time magazine.

I went down to my magazine dealer, Louie, and when he found out why I wanted to buy Time he said, "That's Pheladelrin. You can't buy it without a prescription. On the other hand, Newsweek is advertising Betamotomotor. But they say it isn't for everybody. Some people who have taken it have had their fingers fall off."

I asked Louie, "What would you recommend for tennis elbow?"

"The New Yorker has a six-page spread on T-scalpin. But the ad says you can't buy it unless three doctors want to give it to you."

"What about Vogue magazine?" I asked him.

"They're featuring a French drug called Quelle Chance. It not only can cure you but it will make your hair grow again."

"Louie, you're really up on these prescription drugs."

"You have to be if you're in the magazine business. Ever since the prescription drug companies started advertising products you cannot buy over the counter, we news vendors have become essential to the health care of the public.

"The first thing I do when the latest magazine comes in is check it out and see what the cure for an ailment is. For example, a fellow came in for a lottery ticket the other day and started complaining because he had a terrible migraine headache. I immediately prescribed a copy of Playboy magazine, which was advertising Platopain Plus."

"Did you hear if he got the medicine?"

"His doctor wouldn't give it to him. He said he preferred the pain killer being advertised in Vanity Fair."

"You really provide a public service," I said.

"I love what I do. If I can find a cure for asthma in Bride magazine, I'm happy."

"Are there any side effects to the medicine being advertised in Newsweek?"

"There are always side effects to prescription drugs. Besides your fingers falling off, in some cases you wind up with Lyme disease, contracted from ticks that live on the cotton in the bottle."

"What's the antidote?"

"I believe it's advertised in Money magazine."

I told Louie, "The problem with finding a satisfactory drug in a magazine is that you might also find a better drug advertised on television."

"My doctor is very careful about what he prescribes. He makes sure when he gives somebody something from Good Housekeeping that it does the job better than what they're pitching on 'Monday Night Football.' "