Cardigan's Most Colorful Secret

It's said that confession is good for the soul. It should stand to reason, then, that the more profound the secret, the more profound the feeling of freedom, once it's spoken. If true, then I'm in for a tremendous feeling shortly.

You see, it's a horrible, deep, dark (yet colorful) secret that Cardigan has to share with you. Something that not many people know. Perhaps it should be kept that way, but the inner turmoil is becoming unbearable. So I must purge myself, share it with you.

It all started back at the end of 1985. I was home from college for Thanksgiving break. And one night, while visiting my brother and his family, my seven year-old niece came to me and said, "Do you wanna listen to my new Rainbow Brite tape, Uncle Dana?"

Rainbow Brite.

Inwardly, I groaned, expecting it to be a typical children's tape. Nothing even so classy as Sesame Street, but full of syrupy little voices and banjos or something. I smiled sickly and said, "Sure, honey."

She vanished into her room and soon returned with the cassette. She plugged it into the stereo and turned it on. I held my breath.

The first thing I heard was a bit of spacey-type noises, very briefly. And then, to my shock, a short little riff on an oboe. An oboe! I adore oboe music. I perked up my ears.

Then the syrupy little voice hit me.

"Whenever my happy smile turns upside down,
I know how to turn my troubles around...
I feel the yellow sunshine warming my skin...
I open my eyes, and let the green in...
And feel the silver and blue of the sky...
Then I'll have a rainbow inside."

I frowned, preparing myself for true nausea. But then something happened. The music changed, getting a little more upbeat, with some real orchestration behind it. Hmmm... This wasn't terrible.

We listened to the whole tape, and while there were definitely some sickening pieces on it, there were probably half a dozen that were cute, catchy, and not bad to listen to. The tape ended and I told Megan that I liked it.

Little did I know what had just happened to me.

My sister gave me a ride back to school before she returned home to North Carolina. Before she left, we went shopping at a department store. While Sue looked at different things, I went straight to the music department and browsed through the records.

After seeing nothing of any interest in the normal categories of music I listened to, I found myself inexplicably flipping through the children's records. And there it was. I pulled it out and held it up for Sue to see.

"This is the tape that Megan had," I announced.

My sister looked at me with a bemused look on her face. "Umm... Yeah. Your point?"

Suddenly realizing how silly I must appear, I turned to put it back. "Nothing. It was just kinda cool, is all."

That night, back at my apartment, I related this story to my roommate Gina, who found it somewhat amusing. Gina, in turn, told our other roommate, Sandy. Sandy worked at the same department store where Sue and I had seen the album.

So, in among my Christmas gifts that year was... yes... a Rainbow Brite album. Hey, I laughed. I deserved the joke. It was a good gag.

But it didn't end there.

My birthday is in January. For my birthday, I received, from these same roommates, a Rainbow Brite doll. And not the little one, either. The big eighteen inch model. I laughed again, of course. Fine. Cute. But enough, already.

Nope. Not nearly so.

Over the next several months, many more of my friends got in on this little game. I found myself receiving Rainbow Brite goodies from far and wide. Jigsaw puzzles, coloring books, stickers, etc...

My roommates came very close to purchasing Rainbow Brite bed sheets for me and putting them on my bed one day while I was out. Thankfully, they had a change of heart.

Finally, I just gave up. Nothing I said would make these sadists stop buying Rainbow Brite stuff for me. So I decided to get involved, too. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?

So I would purchase the occasional Rainbow Brite item and show it off. The sleeper set, for example, which came with a sort of nightie, slippers, and a mask for her eyes. (I found it in the clearance aisle at a toy store... I don't think I would've paid full price for it. I wasn't that deranged.)

I even purchased the breakfast cereal. This was horrid stuff, like brightly colored, sugared Styrofoam. Icky. But there was a special offer on the back! For only a quarter, and one proof of purchase, I could get a Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer movie poster! Which I did.

Years later, while working in a video sales store, I decided to use my employee discount to purchase the movie. Just couldn't justify having the poster without owning the movie, y'know.

Oh, and my poor friends... I tortured them. Mostly by forcing them to listen to the album, the thing that had started it all. One friend came to visit me at school for a weekend. The poor, unsuspecting fool. I played the album for him. He complained about it at the time. But the worst was yet to come for him. Two weeks later, I got a phone call from him. He was at work.

"Y'know," he said irritably, "I was just sitting here at work, humming. And a co-worker asked me what I was humming. And I stopped. I had no idea what I was humming. And then it hit me." I started to chuckle. "It was one of those damned songs!" he said. I chuckled more.

Rainbow Brite is infectious.

I don't think he's forgiven me, yet.

Probably the most bizarre event involving Rainbow Brite was when she (the doll, that is) accompanied me to the Pennsic War. This is an event held annually in the Society for Creative Anachronism, a big camping deal. In the SCA, everyone wears medieval clothing. It's a medieval re-creation society, you see. I'd decided to take Rainbow Brite with me as sort of our camp mascot. Other people would often take little teddy bears in chain mail, so why not Rainbow Brite?

I made for her a long tunic, in dark and light blue, with a light blue sash. Way cute. A beaded necklace added to the ensemble. While at the war, I made a little sword for her out of balsa wood, duct tape, and electrical tape on the grip. Since SCA folk adopt a persona, she needed a medieval name. I called her "Bifrost," after the rainbow bridge from Norse mythology, that connected Asgard to Midgard.

She's accompanied me to work on a couple occasions, too, mostly to prove to people that this story is, in fact, fact. I did forget, however, to bring her this year for Take Your Kids to Work Day. Oh, well. She'd have been bored, anyway.

So there.

I've confessed it all.

It felt good.

Thank you.

But why, you might be wondering, did I feel the need to bring this up at all? I guess so you'd understand what's coming next.

You see, not long ago, I was browsing through the different Webrings. I belong to quite a few, and was just looking for some interesting ones to join.

While perusing a few sites, I came across a funny bit about Rainbow Brite. And it brought back a lot of memories. Obviously.

Now, I'd been planning on setting up a webring for a while. I'd had two ideas, both of which have already been done by other folks. I didn't want to set up something redundant.

Funny thing, though... I noticed that there wasn't a Rainbow Brite ring.

Well, guess what?

There is now.

Note: The Rainbow Brite Webring was originated by Cardigan, but duties have since passed to a very capable person who is now ringmistress. There were in excess of 80 members to the ring at the time of transfer. Not bad for something that began essentially as a joke.