Before leaving my house one day, my dad left a copy of The Atlantic on my coffee table and said I should read an article on such and such. (He didn’t say such and such but this is how I heard it at the time as I was busy doing something.)
So I took the magazine on our 10+ hour summer vacation road trip.
I was quickly sucked in by “The Gigolo” where the author invites the star of a reality series over for a party with her friends to be interviewed about the growing male escort service. Ok, this definitely wasn’t the article my dad was referring to, but it was fascinating.
Then “Spolier Alert” noted that the average American family throws out $1,500 worth of food each year, but equally or even more important, “food waste is responsible for emitting the equivalent of 3.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually” and “if food waste was a country it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet.” Though the article focused more on technologies to help indicate food’s freshness, it actually inspired me to get (my husband) working on our new composting system.
Article after article I learned more and more, about Minecraft, infertility, craft distilling. I learned that clown fish can change sex; I won’t share here, though I have already told in some social situations, how this fact would change Finding Nemo.
Then I came across the cover story, about the moral debt America accrued from slavery and the history of “white flight.” Yes, this is a likely suspect, I thought. This may well have been the article he thought I should read. And I was glad I did. But I still wasn’t sure.
After that was another feature story, “Fire on the Mountain” about the 19 Firefighters who died near Yarnell, Arizona last year. The story, which reconstructed their final hours and bravery, was one I was thankful to read.
Story after enjoyable story, I wondered if that article was “the one” I was supposed to read.
But at some point I decided it didn’t really matter anymore which one I was supposed to read because I enjoyed them all, and further, I didn’t even want to know anymore!
Then I reached the end, “How the Novel Made the Modern World,” a history of the American novel. Yes, I had to admit, this was probably it, the one he had intended for me. Even so, I had already read the whole magazine enjoying other stories just as much.
Eventually I couldn’t stand it.
“Dad, that Atlantic you gave me…which article was it you wanted me to read?”
“I can’t remember,” he said.
The Atlantic. June 2014.