Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Can't We All Just Get Along?

I had to use personal time to get a billing problem straightened out with two doctor's offices. My new primary care physician (soon to be replaced) incorrectly made up a referral which later was rejected by a another's doctor's office, due to multiple entry errors, and I received a bill for close to $400.00. A friend went with me on the not-so-much-fun chore of returning to the primary doctor's office to get them to fix their mess. I wasn't thrilled with this little task, and I suppose some of my displeasure was showing, because while we were waiting in the reception area for the new paperwork, my friend picked up a children's book and said, "Let me read you a story."

He has this wonderful dulcet voice with calming tones, so I was game. The book must have measured about 5 x 5 inches and it was foam, covered in washable plastic, I suppose for those drool moments. My friend was squishing the pages of the book, then held it up to his chest on display and said, "What a great idea. Tactile and you can wipe up messes off of it. Why don't Hustler and Playboy print their magazines this way?" I choked back a nasty guffaw, while he opened the book and began to read.

e book was called The Rainbow Fish, and it is the story of a brightly scaled fish who has multi-colored glittery scales (holding up book to show you the picture), and one day a little, plainer fish swims up and asks Rainbow Fish if he might give up one of his pretty scales. Rainbow Fish refuses, and then all of the other little fish ignore him and he is lonely. Rainbow Fish goes to meet with the all- wise Octopus (holding up picture), and asks why he is so alone. I halted the reading at this point to say to my friend that I thought they had drawn the Octopus rather poorly, making him look like an elephant with eight trunks.

Where were we? Oh, yes. So the Octopus tells Rainbow Fish, "Give away your shining scales. You will not be as beautiful, but you will be happy." "See Rainbow Fish thinking about this?", my friend asked. I replied, "This story sucks." So Rainbow Fish swims off, and the next day a fish approaches him and asks for a pretty scale, and Rainbow Fish gives him one. In fact, Rainbow Fish gives away ALL of his scales until he has only one left. "Rainbow Fish wasn't as pretty as before, but now he had friends and swam off to play in the sea...the happiest fish." The End.

I looked at my friend, "Who wrote that garbage?" "Why this book was written by Marcus Pfister and translated into English by J. Alison James." "Translated into English? From what?" "This book was originally published by Nord-Sud Verlag AG, Gassau, Switzerland," he spoke in his still-reading-to-little-children voice, "It is a soft little book with it's message about sharing, and it is perfect for bath time, bed time, beach time, any time!," he said, reading from the back cover. Then he added, in the same tones, "What do I care if you take these hidden Nazi treasure scales from me? Just don't touch my numbered bank accounts." He sighed and added, "Those peace-loving Swiss."


Blogger Phil said...

Sounds like communists wrote that book.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Cube, you crack me up! I see as Hepburn and your friend as Cary Grant in the reception room. You are Pythagorean in your perfection. I salute you.

10:42 AM  
Blogger cuff said...

I had the exact same reaction to The Rainbow Fish when we received from somewhere the same book you're talking about (foam and vinyl for the bath). The general idea is good: the rainbow fish is selfish and haughty and needs to learn to share, but the execution is terrible -- because the fish essentially has to give away his/her body. It's really kind of creepy.

And Phil, come on. If communists had written the book, the rainbow fish would have been placed against a wall and shot. Then the scales would have been redistributed.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Megarita said...

It's like that Oscar Wilde story about the statue of the prince, right? Who gives away his eyes, which are jewels? Or like the giving tree?

Personally? I like that book because it's shiny.

12:18 PM  
Blogger MissThi said...

Ha! At Penthouse, etc, making
adult magazines in the same
The story reminds me of a
communist story hanging on the
door of my college bookstore
freshman year. I can't remember
the exact title or story, but it was
reminiscent of a Brothers Grimm
tale, in which a hen plants a
garden, asks the other animals
for help, they refuse to help
her so she does it herself, and
then has to give the food away
to the others anyway...

At least you have friends able
to visit the Dr. with you. That
sounds a good deal cosier than
my visits usually are!


1:09 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

They can't pull the trigger because of their fins. The fish will die due to it's lack of scales, so that part of it has been accomplished.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Dave said...

I don't know Cube, sounds kinda fishy to me, plain is happy ? Reads like a Mennonite pick up line: "Good day Sister, you're looking very plain today." "Why thank you Brother(blushing)." The story does lean toward a kind of 'from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs' dialectic. Maybe it's a parable, designed to help all the delusional cheerleaders overcome their beauty fixation. One thing's for sure, the story sure slams the work hard-get ahead ethic, while it supports redistribution of wealth and State supported non-achievement. Being in a Doctor's office makes it twice as scary, maybe that's the real point, the plain doctor makes you give up your pretty shiny green Benjamin scales so his life is better, or sumpin', what do I know ?

1:44 PM  
Blogger The Absurdist said...

I've read a lot of children's books in the last five years, and I definitely have my preferences. Rainbow Fish is terrrible children's literature. For anyone looking for a book for a young child, my advice is to get the same books you enjoyed as a child. I buy for my son and my friends' kids books by Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, and Richard Scarry. Another notable mention that even infants enjoy is Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb. After you've read it a couple times you can read it through really fast and dramatically. You and the little one will get to giggling uncontrollably.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Phil: It sure sounds communaz to me. I think they should use a fish hook on Rainbow and then his comrades can scream about Trotsky (ice pick), and insurrection.

Reya: We had to make our comments in low voices, but I am sure people wondered why this man was holding up this tiny book to show me the pictures and ask me questions about it. It was pretty funny and broke the mood of wasted hours undoing someone else's mess.

Mass: Not only is the story line creepy, but the drawings aren't very good. If you look at the copies I used, they are all these wishy-washy (had to say it ;) ) watercolors that I suppose the author could defend as being "in the sea."

Meg: You are right. It did have glitter throughout the book, so the fish was packing some serious bling.

Miss Thi: I spent two days undoing this doctor's mistake. Kiss the lunch hours goodbye. It was amazing that I had someone along who could completely turn the mood around with such silliness.

Mass: Agreed. Creepy. And in the last drawing, the fish has one scale showing. Shudder.

Absurdist: Good to know if I ever reproduce. :)

2:20 PM  
Blogger always write said...

Nice story. What's a painful skin graft between friends?

You crack me up. And your little friend, too.

2:26 PM  
Blogger cuff said...

I second the absurdist's picks. Sendak, Scarry, Seuss, McCloskey, Virginia Lee Burton -- the classics. If it has a Caldecott sticker on it, it's probably good as well.

Newer picture books we enjoy include stuff by Christopher Myers (Wings and Black Cat) and now that my son's 5 a lot of stories based around art (e.g. Katie and the Sunflowers).

Write a good children's book and you've just discovered how to mint money.

2:50 PM  
Blogger A Unique Alias said...

Friends make you happy.

Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you friends.

4:19 PM  
Blogger ThaiMex1 said...

Ms Thi: I recall Henny Penny who asked all of her friends, including Foxy Loxy, if they wanted to help her gather the ingredients for the food. They all turned her down. At the end of the story Henny Penny bakes and eats the bread all by herself.

Cube: The story sounds VERY much like Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree."

It was good that your friend could read to you in the waiting room. Perhaps there's a future there.

9:16 PM  
Blogger ThaiMex1 said...

...and what I mean is a future in reading stories at Barnes and Noble in the childrens' section. I can imagine your friend reading James Joyce's "Ulysess" or Poe's "Murder at the Rouge Morgue" with the children all riveted.

Thanks for your concern. It appears that Norville has turned the corner and is getting better.

6:28 AM  
Blogger Happy and Jaded said...

Great post! Haha..glad I passed over on purchasing The Rainbow Fish for my niece.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Dennis! said...

Great story.

By that I mean your retelling of it, NOT the original story, which is creepy and gross and definitely represents substantial "oversharing," though in a different sense of the word.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Chairborne Stranger said...

Cube, this is exactly what I am talking about! You take this snapshot of your life at the doctor's office and about a children's book and turn it into such a well-written story.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Siryn said...

Sure, let's continue to encourage codependence and fawning behavior by giving away everything he has in order to please people.

What a horrible book.

1:31 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

At least your doctor's office has something off the beaten path to read. I always take my own reading material because I am tired of seeing the same magazines everywhere I go. The fish story reminds me of all those Care Bear books I read to my children -- all with a moral and a happy ending. As bored as I got with everything turning out alright, they always sighed contentedly as I finished the last page and turned off the light.

2:53 PM  
Blogger The Absurdist said...

I see you've finally decided to show the real you.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Complacent Chase said...

You are right, that story was lame but your comments were hilarious!

5:58 PM  
Blogger playfulinnc said...

I'll take that one off the "auntie needs to buy" list.

I prefer the stories that say different is special.

I did get lost in your description of his voice. That's what I want for the Holidays, some good male person to read me a story...

Great post~

11:27 AM  

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