A friend and I were taped for Reading Rainbow once, in second grade; we were to be among those kids who appear at the end of every episode of the show and do a little book review. I don't think either of us ever made it to airing, but it was a neat experience nonetheless.
Like Mr.Sparkle, I was a big fan of the show. I was one of those kids who didn't know there were TV stations besides PBS till I got to school and my peers were talking about all these shows I'd never heard of; until then I'd only ever seen or heard of Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and The Electric Company. (Square One and 3-2-1 Contact didn't come into the picture until later.) On very special evenings I was allowed to stay up late and watch The Muppet Show. Sheltered childhood, I suppose. But I digress.
Years after I discovered TV wasn't just a magic box my parents could manipulate to bring me educational programming, my friend Brian and I, as well as some other kids in our class, were sent to the office of our elementary school to talk to some people from Reading Rainbow. I distinctly remember enthusiastically telling the strangers all about the last book I had really enjoyed, The Dancing Cats of Applesap, and feeling incredibly verbose compared to most of my classmates. Fortunately Brian was a loudmouth too; never one to be outdone, it seemed like he was talking whenever I paused to take a breath.
Anyway, a week or so later there was a call to inform my parents and me that I had been chosen to be taped for Reading Rainbow (I don't remember if I knew the book review was part of the deal; I just remember calling Brian and giggling for what felt like hours, since he'd been chosen, too).
Then came the fun part. I remember getting up very early with my mom (it was still dark out) and driving to a big building that must have been the TV studio in New York City, or maybe Philadelphia (it was still dark out), those being the two cities likely to host PBS stations within range of my hometown in New Jersey. I got to read a book (it was called The Old Banjo) and discuss it with... I can't remember whom, but we talked a lot about what I liked about the book and what I could say about it. We worked out a little schpiel, which I memorized as best I could, down to the intonation of certain words, and then it was time to go to taping.
On my way there, I was told that the shirt I was wearing was right out (wouldn't appear on bluescreen, which would be used to superimpose me over an image of the book I was reviewing) so off to wardrobe I went. They gave me a pink polo shirt to wear, and I reluctantly agreed, but only because I really wanted to get on with the taping (I was a butch little kid, and generally held that "I'd rather go naked than wear pink", but this time my inner drama queen's lust for the spotlight won out over my fashion sense).
I don't remember much more than that. I was taped, about a dozen times I think, maybe more, my diction varying in weird ways from each time to the next. Maybe they gave me snacks, juice and cookies or some other generic childhood treat, but that kind of memory would be easy to blend in from somewhere else. I remember it was a long day, and that I went home very tired, but feeling like I had really accomplished something.
We waited and waited to hear when we would be shown on TV, Brian and I, but no news ever came. He moved to Iowa a year or so after that, and I was heartbroken. Losing your best friend can do that to you when you're eight. I think I pretty much gave up all hope of ever seeing myself on Reading Rainbow at that point. I remember for awhile wishing I could have chosen the book I got to tell people about, and being bitter that I hadn't gotten a better book assigned to me, so I could've given a really outstanding performance. But in the end I just feel wistful about the whole thing, and ever since I stopped being angry at Brian for not keeping in touch, remembering it just makes me wonder whatever happened to him.
Boy, that sure turned out a lot longer than expected! Thanks to anotherone for putting Pseudo_Intellectual's writeup on the front page where I could see it and be provoked to dredge up old memories.
2008.01.25 at 22:04 Cool Man Eddie says Hey, sweet! Someone likes Reading Rainbow!-->