Every now and then I think, Man, if I could only go back to high school with the knowledge I have now. And then I think, What, exactly, do I know now? How to file an extension on my tax returns? How to read Simon & Schuster's cuneiform-like royalty statements? Mindless trivia about baseball, New Wave music and Choose Your Own Adventure Books? Would any of that have helped me, you know, score hot chicks? Then, by virtue of following my own stat links (thanks, Kitty), I learn about a whole new reason to jump back in time...and one that has parents aghast, I tell you, aghast! (More on that in a moment.) Or as Michelle Malkin writes in the Jewish World Review:
Here's a rich irony: I'm writing today about a new children's book, but I can't describe the plot in a family newspaper without warning you first that it is entirely inappropriate for children. The book is "Rainbow Party" by juvenile fiction author Paul Ruditis. The publisher is Simon Pulse, a kiddie lit division of the esteemed Simon & Schuster. The cover of the book features the title spelled out in fun, Crayola-bright font. Beneath the title is an illustrated array of lipsticks in bold colors. The main characters in the book are high school sophomores supposedly typical 14- and 15-year-olds with names such as "Gin" and "Sandy." The book opens with these two girls shopping for lipstick at the mall in advance of a special party. The girls banter as they hunt for lipsticks in every color of the rainbow:
"Okay, we've got red, orange, and purple," Gin said. "Now we just need yellow, green, and blue."
"Don't forget indigo," Sandy said as she scanned the row of lipstick tubes.
"What are you talking about?"
"Indigo," Sandy repeated as if that explained everything. "You know. ROY G. BIV. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet."
"That's seven lipsticks. Only six girls are coming. We don't need it."
What kind of party do you imagine they might be organizing? Perhaps a makeover party? With moms and daughters sharing their best beauty secrets and bonding in the process?
Alas, no. No parents are invited to this get-together. A "rainbow party," you see, is a gathering of boys and girls for the purpose of engaging in group oral sex. Each girl wears a different colored lipstick and leaves a mark on each boy. At night's end, the boys proudly sport their own cosmetically-sealed rainbow you-know-where bringing a whole new meaning to the concept of "party favors."
In the end, the kids in the book abandon plans for the event and news of an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases rocks their school. But the front cover and book marketing emphasize titillation over education, overpowering any redeeming value the book might have. Indeed, according to Publisher's Weekly, the bound galleys sent to booksellers carried the provocative tagline, "don't you want to know what really goes down?"
She goes on to write:
Teenage group orgies are "an interesting topic?" Is Ruditis out of his mind? We can only pray Simon & Schuster keeps him away from the preschool "Rubbadubbers" books. In a small sign that decency and common sense still survive in the marketplace, a number of children's book sellers are refusing to stock "Rainbow Party." But as Ruditis's comments indicate, it's just a matter of time before the book ends up on public school library shelves in the name of "educating" children and helping them "deal with reality." The teen lit market is now awash in sexually explicit books that would require brown-paper wrapping if sold at 7-11; their authors are being hailed as "edgy." For once, radio shock jock Howard Stern has my sympathy. When Oprah Winfrey aired a show last year in which a guest joked bawdily about teenage "rainbow parties" under the guise of enlightening parents, Stern pointed out the regulatory double standards. Why should he be punished for indecent broadcasts while Oprah escaped scrutiny for equally explicit and exploitative content?
Stern is in the wrong line of work. If you want to peddle smut with society's approval, children's books and sex ed is where it's at.
Make what you will of Malkin's article (and I'd wager that she hasn't actually read the book [except that wager would be wrong...Michelle wrote to inform me that she read Rainbow Party prior to writing her column...sorry for the false implication, Michelle...] because neither have I and yet I feel totally qualified to talk about it...I also feel totally qualified to say that using the term "where it's at" is one of my largest pet peeves, second only to vis-a-vis), but I'm now thinking that growing up in the 80s just wasn't as much fun as growing up in the 00s is. I mean, all I did as a teenager was get drunk off warm Keystone at a place we called The Circles (which was, it turns out, an undeveloped housing tract), have sex with women I didn't love, edit a banned yearbook and talk about getting out, man, just getting the fuck out. (Out of where was never quite determined.) And then there's the whole performance issue. I may have been strong like bull at 18, but all the colors of the rainbow in one night? Kids today! Anyway, Malkin's indignation is fine -- she can feel what she wants to feel and that's okay -- but for a real good time, one must take a gander at the Amazon reviews for sheer Parental Aghastness. Here is my favorite:
Don't buy it unless you're going to burn it, May 25, 2005
Reviewer: PAUL C. FRY (Cleveland, OH USA) - See all my reviews
One reason that I'm giving this a lousy review because I'm a parent. I've got two boys so far; I don't want either of them giving or getting oral sex when they're teenagers. Or ever for that matter.
Would this book make every reader engage in oral sex? Maybe not, but this book glamorizes it. Is that the author's intention? Maybe not, but honestly I have no idea what goes through the mind of a writer to make him want to write smut like this. Kids have enough trouble without fanning the flames of their passions and telling them that dangerous and immoral behavior is OK.
No oral...ever? Paul, dude, what if their wives can't achieve orgasm through sex and only through oral sex? Are you going to deny their wives the pleasure of orgasm simply because you don't like the oral? Now I can understand wanting to keep your kids clean and moral and passionless...your home, your rules, all that...but forever? Paul come on! Come on people, let's get a chant going: Let Them Have Oral, Let Them Have Oral, Let Them Have Oral...