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Musing: Color Me Crazy
I have the fashion sense of a gnat.
That’s not fair. It’s offensive to stylish flying pests everywhere. Have you ever seen a gnat wearing socks with sandals?
Yes, I know, I can hear the collective gasp of horror even as I type, but I don’t care. I like sandals. Sometimes my feet get cold. Socks seem like a logical solution to me.
Many years ago, I posted a picture sitting in a campsite with my dogs. I thought people would enjoy the insanity of RVing with a half-dozen Siberian Huskies, but the comments quickly focused on my footwear choice.
In defense of my lack of taste, I worked in Corporate America for nearly three decades. In the typical unfairness between the sexes, as a guy, I didn’t have to think about my clothes. Each day, I would put on the official men’s uniform of offices everywhere—dark suit, white shirt, and red tie. On daring days, I pushed the boundaries with a blue shirt or yellow tie.
And, no, I didn’t wear socks with sandals—or even just sandals—but I once wore a mismatched pair of shoes—one black and one brown. I grabbed clothes out of the closet, dressed, and headed to the office without spying my error. The morning was half over before I noticed.
In case you were wondering, nobody mentioned my faux pas. No one noticed. Or, at least, no one said anything. Maybe they were so accustomed to my lack of style that they didn’t think it was out of character.
An even scarier thought is maybe that wasn’t the first time I had ever done such a thing. Perhaps I regularly clumped around in disparate footwear, and it was just the first time I noticed.
By the end of each day in an office, I was ready to chuck the suit. Wearing a piece of cloth knotted around your neck is, frankly, stupid. Walk any plant floor, hospital, warehouse, call center, or any other workplace, and you quickly understand that a coat and tie do represent status, but not in a positive way. A “suit” is someone to be avoided, not trusted.
Between the discomfort of wearing a suit and the knowledge of perception, I dreamed of the day when every piece of clothing I wore could be bought from a local outdoor store. I’ve always been happiest on one of our mountain trails, so why shouldn’t those clothes be what I wore daily?
Now that I write for a living, I rarely leave the house. My dogs are unimpressed with my attire. I can wear what I want. During the winter, I dress in Carhartt jeans and a Carhartt t-shirt. If I go outside, I throw on a Carhartt coat. Yes, I am a walking billboard for Carhartt.
In the summer, I stow away the jeans and replace with shorts.
Getting dressed each morning takes even less thought than the old suit-wearing days. I don’t wear shoes in the house, so no worries of a mis-match. I get up each morning, pull on a pair of jeans, grab whatever t-shirt is at the top of the drawer, and I’m ready to start the day.
Despite my routine, I’m far more colorful than the simple variations a tie can provide. Carhartt t-shirts come in a ridiculous variety of colors.
Left to my own devices, of course, I would own a dozen gray t-shirts. My Ever Patent Partner in Life, however, keeps a veritable rainbow of t-shirts in my drawer. As long as they are Carhartts, I don’t care, but that raises a slightly different problem.
Just the other day, EPPIL called out from another room and asked, “What color shirt are you wearing today?”
I, of course, had to look down for the answer. The room is dark when I get up around 5. It wouldn’t matter if it was well lit, because I don’t look anyway. The top shirt is my choice for the day. With a glance, though, I had my answer. “Blue.”
If I’m oblivious to color, you can only imagine how clueless I am with variants. My silence must have communicated my challenge, because the question became a multiple choice option. “Navy? Cobalt? Blue lagoon? Scout blue snow? Powder?”
In case you think I’m making this up, those are actual options from the Carhartt website. I thought hard to eliminate my choices. I knew what navy meant and had a reasonable guess to cobalt, but wasn’t Blue Lagoon a movie?
What color can be described as scout blue snow? Is that the same shade as a frozen boy scout in a drift? And isn’t snow a powder, so what was the difference between that and powder blue? And shouldn’t snow be white? Who comes up with these names?
I heard the sigh from the other room. My hesitation had been so long that even if I tried to answer, we both knew it was a wild guess. EPPIL came into my office, took one look, and named the color. I would tell you what the answer was, but I forgot seconds after EPPIL left.
If you think this problem is bad with clothes, imagine painting a house. We’ve, of course, moved twice in the past three years—from Maggie Valley to Murrells Inlet and then to Asheville. Each of the two houses we moved into needed painting. That, of course, meant choosing paint, which lead to painful conversations.
I walked into the kitchen one day and spied EPPIL sitting at the table with paint samples spread across the surface. My heart sank. I scrambled to escape, but it was too late. I was asked to study the eleventy-seven bazillion shades of the same color and declare my favorite.
Within minutes, it felt like I was at the eye doctor, looking through that weird contraption at scrambled letters on the wall. “Can you see better with A…” click “or B?”
“Uh. B. Maybe. I think.”
“B or C? C or D? D or E?” Click. Click. Click.
Colors are worse. A and B and C and D and E all look exactly the same.
This is probably a good point in my story to share a professional marriage tip here—saying you can’t tell the difference does not provide an escape. Nor do the phrases “I trust your judgment” or “I really don’t care.”
The best method forward is to scrunch your face like you’re in deep thought (just channel the pain you’re feeling and it looks the same). After much hemming and hawing, pick one sample, read the label, and say with your best faked sincerity, “I think this avocado peach sasquatch might be the one.”
EPPIL will provide a subtle clue about your choice. “You’re kidding?” “Are you nuts?” “Have you lost your mind?” “That’s a business card, not a paint sample.”
Assuming you sense a negative vibe—likely—the next move is not to retry any of those points from earlier. Scrunch your face again and make another selection. “This scout powder lagoon is nice.”
Repeat this process as many times as necessary until, at some point, if you’re lucky, you will stumble upon the correct answer. EPPIL will provide the golden answer. “Yes, I like that one.”
Now, this next step is very important. Commit this color name to memory. This will be a challenge because the name will make no sense, and will sound dangerously like the many rejected choices before it, but make the effort. You might think you’re done with color picking, but no. You will be tested.
We were walking the dogs the other day and met a new neighbor. After a few minutes of pleasantries, she asked where we live. Unwisely, I answered. “The yellow house with green shutters.”
EPPIL scowled. I scrambled for a better answer. “Beige.”
A shake of the head.
The new neighbor tsked and shook her head. She looked at EPPIL and asked, “Does he mean the powder camel scout lagoon biscuit with the emerald lincoln ward mead shutters?”
I might have those colors wrong. I zoned out.
Interesting Links: Word Hippo
Looking for the right word to fit a situation? Word Hippo finds synonyms, antonyms, definitions, and even rhymes. Particularly useful for those of you who play word games like crosswords, Scrabble, or Wordle.
While out walking the dogs the other day, we encountered this deer. That look questions whether we understand we can’t follow to “Deer Haven.”
Vocabulary Word Of The Week: Imbue
Imbue has a colorful past since it comes from the Latin imbuere meaning to dye or moisten. That infusion of color remains a definition today, but the word more commonly describes the permeation of a feeling in some context. For example, a story might be imbued with a sense of triumphant and hope.
Gratuitous Dog Picture
We’ve had some great sunny but cool days to get outside and enjoy the patio and yard. The wood carvings, especially these two bears holding a flower pot, fascinate Landon.
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