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DON’T GET MAD, but…

Last Sunday, while Hal was picking up the week’s NYT and bagels, he plucked a little something for Archer as a surprise.

It was MAD magazine, Star Wars edition, and we all rejoiced when Hal knighted him with the issue, as if our childhoods were suddenly hand in hand. Even my dad scurried over to check out the issue.

“Oh, man. I LOVED MAD magazine when I was a kid,” he said.

“Me, too!!”

“Me too!”

“AND! It’s a Star Wars special!”

“Oh, man. I LOVE STAR WARS,” we all said in unison.

Superfans unite.

Archer couldn’t care less, but he humored his parents and sat down with my dad to see about some Spy vs Spy because…

“When I was a kid, I LOVED Spy vs Spy.”

Of course, I hadn’t even thought to LOOK at the magazine. I mean, why on earth would I do that? Mad magazine was a silly magazine full of comics and lols… intended for kids?

“Me too!”

“So did I!”

“And me!”

“Hold on, did you guys love Spy vs Spy?” Archer’s rolling eyes suggested.

“YES!” our eight eyes answered back, in unison.

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Fast forward to thirty seconds later with Archer and my dad marveling over Spy vs Spy.

I snapped a photo of the moment, a grandson and his grandfather bonding over a timeless periodical. It was truly something.

“Is that the cutest?” I said to my mom.

“The cutest,” she answered back.

“So cute.”

“Cute.”

Of course, I hadn’t even thought to LOOK at the magazine. I mean, why on earth would I do that? Mad magazine was a silly magazine full of comics and lols… intended for kids?

At least that’s what it was like when I was a kid?

I think?

(Wasn’t it?)

Memories are a funny thing. We have different eyes at different ages. We judge from different comforts, relate based on experiences that have and haven’t happened yet. I’m sure I read and saw 7878798 things that I wouldn’t want my kids to read or see, and survived to… well… not remember any of it.

Same with my dad.

Same with my mom.

And Hal, who read MAD religiously at Archer’s age.

“We all did…”

I don’t think I ever looked at MAD after, say, losing my virginity or even knowing what sex was. I certainly didn’t have any political knowledge in those days, not beyond the liner notes of my Nirvana cassette, anyway.

Perhaps that was why it always seemed harmless to me. Because kids don’t know any better… because everything is “harmless” when you’re a kid.

When you don’t know too much, you can’t see it… or something.

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It wasn’t until someone made a comment on Instagram about MAD being too inappropriate for her kids, that I was like, “Huh. Really?”

I went to find the magazine but it was gone.

“Surely she must be overreacting,” I thought.

But hours later, when the magazine made its reappearance, I flipped through it.

Two pages in was a BDSM comic a la 50 Shades followed by a parody of the show GIRLS followed by comic strips depicting children with guns followed by… HOLY SHIT WHAT IN THE… NO.

Not only was the Instagram commenter right, she was SO right – like, HOLY SHIT, HOW WAS I NOT SKEWERED for that photo? (I have been skewered for far less, let me tell you.)

I quickly deleted the picture from Instagram, mortified at my inability to know better, freaked out at Hal for buying such GARBAGE, freaked out at myself for not knowing better, freaked out on my parents for also not knowing better, freaked out at the dog for… not knowing better. Sheesh, Zadie. And then freaked out ten more times for not knowing better.

I made a beeline for Archer’s room, magazine in hand, and calmly explained that I would have to confiscate the magazine and that I was sorry but “it’s not appropriate for you at this time …”

Maybe because magazines seem so antiquated and harmless, I forget that vetting is in order in the same way, say, youtube is. Playboy magazine doesn’t get boys into trouble the way, say, internet porn does, and I tend to write off old media as harmless because, compared to the infinity of google-able shit on the Internet, it kind of is. (We have a Playboy coffee table book, for example. It is the least of my worries.)

And yet.

Be mindful, self. Be mindful of all of the things.

I made a beeline for Archer’s room, magazine in hand, and calmly explained that I would have to confiscate the magazine and that I was sorry but “it’s not appropriate for you at this time …”

“I know, Mom.”

“It’s our fault,” I explained. “We weren’t really thinking with our heads. We remembered the magazine differently is the thing… but we’re not kids anymore, we’re adults, so… it looks different to us now, you know?”

“That magazine wasn’t really my thing, anyway. I did like the spy vs spy strip, though.”

“Me, too,” I said.

“Me three,” Hal called from the kitchen.

“Spy vs Spy is the best,” my dad echoed down the hall.

(Spy vs Spy is pretty genius, it’s true. The rest of it? Nah.)

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