Saturday, January 24, 2009

Do You Know What It Means to Be One-of-a-Kind?

If you were a kid in the 80s, you may remember a series of books called The Ready-Set-Grow Series. You know, the ones with the back covers that featured a group of children painting a fence. Because...Tom Sawyer? And kids? These books were, for the most part, creepily written and execrably illustrated. My favorite growing up was You're Either One or the Other: A Children's Book about Human Sexuality. Let me put it this way: if the illustrator has this much difficulty drawing clothed crotches, imagine how much difficulty he has drawing unclothed ones.

...... ............ ............
When I finally saw a true penis, I was unprepared. Anyway, I picked up a copy of You're One-of-a-Kind at the Magical Flea Market Bookstall for ten cents, and it turned out to be a treasure, because the previous child owner of the book had actually written in it. His name is totally Damian, you guys.

This, we are to understand, is Damian's body:

And this is his head:

As this picture makes clear, his style is so, so fine. He favors a t-shirt transformed by daring scissors into a more irresistible version of itself; belly button masterfully bared, he strides forth to meet the world. Now, there are a few things you should know about Damian. He enjoys hambgers,

and he dislikes chess. (I must confess I saw that coming.) As for animals, he loves "rabbit":

and he dislikes "cat." This is hardly surprising. "Cat" is a domestic animal, fated to live within four walls, but "rabbit" roams the world, borne ever aloft by a car that is also a ghost. He is riding, perhaps, to Damian's rescue, for Damian is a prisoner in his own home.

You can take away his freedom, but you can never take away his freedom to laugh. Damian loves to laugh. And what makes him laugh the most are jokes.

Please blow that picture up and bask in the glory of Damian's laughter-hole. Now, allow me to return to the matter of his style. Take a long look at the mysterious "6" emerging from his neck, apparent also in the drawing of his head. It took me a moment to realize what this "6" was supposed to represent, and when I finally understood I gasped aloud. Pity poor Damian, who at nine years old could not draw a credible pair of eyes, but whose rat-tail was so integral to his sense of self that no portrait was complete without it.

The year was 1979, which means that Damian is currently 38 years old. So respectable! He's probably your boss right now. Or your dad.


svf said...

I was forced to teach that disturbing series as a young substitute teacher. The San Francisco Unified School District was quite keen on them.

Tricia said...

Were there better options, I wonder? I mean, the 80s were a disturbing time to be a child, period. Books like these were the least of our problems.

svf said...

I had some degree of success in reaching students with Judy Bloom and Hubert Selby novels. This did, however, make for rather feisty PTA meetings.

Admiral Farragut said...

Do you find it odd that the San Francisco Unified School district should insist on using a series of books which contains "You're Either One or the Other: A Children's Book About Human Sexuality"? I was under the impression that this was an area of the nation where people were allowed a wide range of sexual self-determination. Oh, those wacky, repressive '80's!

svf said...

As a native, though currently expat, San Franciscian, I have always felt that the City supported that sort of unbridled sexual and gender self-determination only after an undefined measure of tears had been shed - shame being character's common currency.

Backwards ball cap wearing frat sorts hold more sway there than the brochures would lead one to believe.

Tricia said...

Oh man, how did this post get such a thoughtful and informative discussion under it? It is having an identity crisis!

Adam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adam said...

I have made a composite of damian, putting his head on his shoulders, so to speak. for your amusement.

Here he is.