I am one of the last 205,939 subscribers to The Boston Globe who still get it delivered to their home. My husband reads it, but he does it the way he eats ice cream – if I buy it – or watches television – when I turn it on. He claims he only does it because it’s there. It’s true that he doesn’t need the Globe to get the national news; he’s been reading the New York Times online for years. When they finally started restricting free content, he gave in and bought a subscription. As far as he’s concerned, we get the Globe for me. The charge appears on his credit card though, and I have to admit, he’s been relatively good-natured about the cost, because it’s pretty darn expensive.
The paper itself has been steadily shrinking for months. Each day when I pick it up off my porch it feels a little lighter. After I remove the sports section, which gets tossed without so much as a glance, and dump out the advertising circulars, I am left with precious little to read with my morning cereal.
When I commuted to work, I drove at least an hour a day with NPR on in the car. I was one of those people who started conversations with, “Did you hear that piece on NPR?” Since I have been without a commute, I have become even more attached to my daily newspaper. Without it, I fear my world will shrink too much and I will no longer be able to participate in cocktail conversations.
Also, I confess, I read the obituaries. It’s not a case of, “I read the obituaries and if I’m not in them, I eat breakfast.” After all, I’m not that old yet. And I’m not an indiscriminate obituary reader. I scan the names in a few key towns, including the one I grew up in and the one I live in, looking for names I recognize. For the most part, they belong to parents of friends and schoolmates from my youth. Since obituaries list the next of kin and where they live, it’s a way for me to peek into the lives of the kids I remember as the grown-ups they’ve become. Obituaries help me feel connected to the world.
I realize that obituaries are online, along with the rest of the paper, but I don’t want to keep a computer on my kitchen table. I could carry my breakfast up to my office and eat in front of my computer. Or I could pay for a data plan so I can eat my breakfast in the kitchen while reading the news on a tablet, which I would then need to buy. However, today, these alternatives do not appeal to me. I know that it’s only a matter of time before an obituary for the print version of the Globe appears online. That day, I will probably be standing on my porch wondering why my paper has not yet been delivered.