Monday, August 20, 2012

Men Have Eight Colors

“Bless you,” I said.  I mean, I can be polite - sometimes.  When someone sneezes that’s what you say.  Bless you.

“Excuse me?”  Char just stared at me as if I had two heads.  It’s a look I’m used to from the girls.  Obviously, I’m not as nice as I thought I was if Char wasn’t able to perceive my manners.

“Bless you.  You sneezed, so I said, ‘Bless you.’  That’s what you say when people sneeze.”

“I know what people say, Robbie.”  I’m used to the rolling of the eyes, as well.  “I didn’t sneeze.”

“Yes, you did.  I heard it.  You two were discussing your outfits for tonight and you sneezed.”

“Oh for crying…I didn’t sneeze, Robbie.  I said fuchsia.”

“Bless you.”

Whenever the girls start talking colors I tune out.  They start naming colors that I can’t even imagine and soon they’re mentioning foods and I want a snack.  Lemon.  Peach.  Blueberry.  Crayola has a color named Asparagus now.  Children can’t escape their veggies even when drawing on the wall with crayons.  Animals are colors, as well, such as Elephant and Canary.  It makes it complicated when trying to describe the animal with the color.  “Hey, what color is that elephant?”


“Right.  What color is it?”


“Okay, forget the elephant.  What color is the canary?”


“You have a bad habit, my friend.  How about that donkey?  What color is it?”


And I give up and just walk away. 

This reasoning also helps prove the redundancy of names and how complicated colors are being made with no reason.  “So, this is canary.  What color is a canary?”


“So, canary equals yellow which we already have, so we can throw this crayon away.  Now, this is elephant.  What color is an elephant?”

“Gray,” I’m told with a sigh and soon another crayon is out of my box.

In 1903, Crayola had eight colors and we were happy with that until 1949 when we got greedy and boosted that total to forty.  The original eight colors were black, blue, brown, green, orange, red, yellow, and violet, which men call purple.  Of course, the girls start telling me that we need other shades, such as gray and pink.  However, men can easily triple that eight count without getting too complicated.  For example, there is light blue, blue, and dark blue.  Likewise, beige is really just light brown.  We don’t need baby blue, which makes no sense as babies aren’t blue, or navy blue when Navy uniforms are white as well.  Is there a navy white?  When neon colors came out I just added the word “bright” as in bright blue.  Pastels equaled Easter to me, so it was Easter green.  Now I’m up to forty colors still using the basic eight.  I’m covered in my mind.

The color, orange, started the chaos.  I mean, red wasn’t called apple or yellow, lemon or banana.  Of course, I suppose violet was just as guilty, not happy being simply purple.  It just goes to prove that even inanimate objects can become uppity.

The confusion was compounded with such colors as blue green and green blue.  What was the difference?  “Well, one is just a little bluer than the other while the other one is just a bit greener.”  They look the same!  Crayola must have thought so as well because in 1990 they retired green blue.  I mean, why waste a perfectly good slot by having a duplicate.  They also retired lemon yellow, which seemed another name in redundancy to me.

Of course, my aversion to going beyond the basic colors keeps me from being any assistance to the girls at all when it comes to picking out clothes.  The question, “Does this match?” means absolutely nothing to me.

“It’s blue.  That’s blue.  Why wouldn’t it match?”

“Robbie, this isn’t blue; it’s teal.  And not all shades of colors go together.”

“That’s teal?  It looks like my green blue crayon they stopped making.”  I’m not sure why they keep asking my opinion on fashion things.

Crayola came out with some new colors awhile ago.  One was called inch worm.  Now, I am a far cry from a fashion consultant, but I just don’t see that one catching on with the ladies.  I may be wrong, but telling a woman the color of her blouse is inch worm is not going to be a strong selling point.

Anything beyond the normal is simply a repackaging of old colors for a new audience.  I came across jazzberry jam and wild blue yonder in my search and just shook my head.  Today’s kids do not need shinier names than what’s always been around.  They have enough new gadgets and gizmos that should allow blue to remain blue.  If Dylan tells me she’s wearing jazzberry jam, I’m going to tell her to go wash her face.

When I was younger my parents bought me that great Crayola box of 64 colors with the pencil sharpener in the back.  The first thing I did was tear the wrappers off and pour them into my plastic Star Wars pencil box with all of the other crayons that had been stripped, broken and melted.  Why?  Because names never mattered.  Blue was blue and red was red.  Perhaps that’s why I became a writer and not an artist.  That’s also why the girls pick out my clothes.  I think I embarrass them with my choices.  It’s not that I’m color blind; I’m just color ignorant.  And I’m okay with that.

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  1. Love it and you know the funny thing is that as an artist the fewer colours you use the better. I only use around 8 colours myself...

    1. Nice! I can barely keep up with every new color name that comes out. I prefer to just stick to the basics with

      Thanks for visiting and commenting, Clare!