2018-08-22 / Editorials

Color me confused

Other Voices
Mitch Clarke

We used to do some things in this country so simply, and then someone had to come along and complicate matters. What I’m talking about today is colors.

Remember the old box of Crayola crayons you had when you were a kid? I had one of those big boxes with 64 different colors and a built-in crayon sharpener. Most of the colors were easy to understand.

You had the basics, of course: red, yellow, blue, green, orange, purple, black. If you wanted a color that was a little darker than orange, you chose red orange. If you wanted something lighter than green, you chose yellow green.

Most of the other colors were easy to understand, too. When coloring a picture of your house, you could use brick red. A picture of the ocean might use sea green.

Of course, there were the burnt siennas and the thistles and the bittersweets. I don’t remember what those colors were, and I’m not sure I understood them when I was a kid, either.

The problem is that strange colors now predominate the Crayola box. Today, there’s beaver, manatee, inchworm and flamingo. I’m not sure if I’m buying crayons or going to the zoo. There’s also macaroni and cheese, purple mountain’s majesty and razzmatazz.

The bigger problem is that all these new-fangled colors have made their way into the world of fashion, and that makes it difficult for a fashion-challenged fellow like me to buy clothes.

Last week, a friend posted a photo of the school uniform colors for each grade in her child’s elementary school. Depending on the grade, shirts should be colors such as heliconia, orchid, lagoon, chambray, butter or aloe.

I can figure out what color butter is. And I think I know aloe. But what is chambray? I thought that was a type of fabric. And heliconia? Google says it’s a multicolored flower, but when it comes to shirts, it’s apparently glow-in-the dark pink.

I don’t mean to be sexist about this, but it had to be women who created these new color names.

I don’t know of a single man who would say, “Dahling, I’m going to drive down to the mall and purchase a cranberry shirt to wear with these charcoal trousers to the big game this weekend.”

No, sir. Men would say, “Honey, I’m fixin’ to run to the Walmart and get me a red shirt to go with these black britches to wear to watch us whoop Tech’s butt on Sattidy.”

I can only imagine the first conversation between the two designers who started this new trend.

“Why, Gladys, that’s a divine shirt you’ve created,” one designer would say. “What color do you call it?”

“Well, Myrtice, I was going to call it orange.”

“Oh, no, dear. You can’t call it orange. That’s just too… too… tacky. People in Tennessee wear orange and so do folks who have to pick up trash along the highway when they are performing their community service.”

“Well, what about pumpkin?”

“That’s better. But pumpkins are rather large. We don’t want skinny people to think these shirts are just for fat people. What do you think of cantaloupe surprise?”

“That’s just perfect, Myrtice. Just perfect. Cantaloupe surprise it is.”

The real surprise is that you’ll have to pay $84.95 for a designer shirt named for something you ate for breakfast.

I beseech clothing designers to please stick with color names that we can all understand so that I don’t further embarrass myself.

When I get embarrassed, my face turns all burnt raspberry.

Mitch Clarke, a native of Blakely, is the editor of AccessWDUN. com in Gainesville. He can be contacted at mitch.clarke@gmail.com. Read previous columns at www.accesswdun.com/ blog/mitch.

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