Coloring Our World

Decorating schemes are entirely built upon personal preference–and in that, those of us who live alone have the advantage. We need not compromise!

A man I once dated had been divorced for a long while, and, consequently, had erased many memories of his ex-wife by redecorating his home in colors and styles that he preferred. While I knew from our first couple of dates that our relationship would not be long-lasting, his household color scheme alone would have been enough to make me bail on the association.

The worst room was, I recall, his kitchen. It had been painted precisely the shade of bottled mustard and enhanced with a strip of wallpaper border at the top: a coal-black background across which a frieze of golden pears and yellow apples danced. (Where, I still wonder, does anyone even find such a thing?)

It’s possibly needless to say that I experienced difficulty eating a meal in that room.

My own decorating tastes run to pale, rich, quiet colors: shades of ivory and shell pink, lavender and light teal, pale blue and mint green and peach. Since Boyfriend was in the market for a new home to ruin with his lack of taste, I accompanied him while he examined several model houses. Entering one, I found myself enchanted. The walls of the living room were brushed a medium lilac, while a wallpaper border along the top featured wisteria bunches amongst pale green vines on a white background. This room led into a glassed-in patio at one side, filled with white wicker furniture bearing cushions decorated with the wisteria-and-vines motif. I found the combination delightful. He thought it was nauseating.

And that, as I have pointed out many times previously in these blog posts, is perfectly okay. We are each entitled to our personal preferences. The real trick lies in maintaining the validity of one’s own stance while not belittling another’s choices (at least to their faces; in the privacy of one’s own mind is another matter!) By exercising tact, we refrain from making anyone feel that their selections are inadequate or unusual. When Boyfriend, immensely proud of the kitchen that I found so atrocious, extolled the brilliance of his color scheme, I merely remarked that it was “really bright”. I even smiled as I said it. (“Makes my eyes bleed,” was my preferred response, but I bit my tongue. Hard. I may even have drawn blood.)

Another date, stopping by my own condo for the first time, gazed about the lower floors done in my ivory/light brown/shell pink/bottle-green color scheme and remarked noncommittally, “It’s very feminine, isn’t it?” (Well, yes, of course. I live here alone, and I’m a woman.) But I took his actual meaning, and silently lauded him for his tact. Date had admirably overcome the hurdle of expressing his reservations without sounding overtly critical. He actually did a far better job than a female friend of mine. Her tastes run to brighter, deeper shades; she remarked that my color scheme reminded her of an 80s hotel.

Neither Date nor Boyfriend made it into the category of long-lived relationships, so their decorating preferences were really just a blip on the screen. But had there been any chance that I was going to continue seeing either one, I might have been just a touch more assertive in my reply, while still avoiding overt criticism—something along the lines of “Uh, well, to be quite honest, I really prefer softer colors, especially in a kitchen. Dark, bright colors make a kitchen feel very small and hot, I think.” Tactful, while nonetheless honestly acknowledging my own preferences, so that he might file them away for future reference. If Date had been someone I wanted to follow up on, I might have described to him the colors that my condo had originally been painted, while carefully noting his reaction: the living room in camouflage colors, flat khaki green and brown; the tiny half-bath in dark royal purple; the main bath in dried-blood scarlet and poison candy green; a kitchen the shade of Grey’s Poupon and the main bedroom in the darkest teal accented with pale violet and mustard. (Yeesh! The gallons and gallons of paint it took to overcome these shades does not bear remembering! Nor the fact that the young clerk at the paint store insistently debated my decision to use the “eggshell” finish paint, rather than semi-gloss. Once more, an instance of someone attempting to impose their preferences over my own.)

But, as I have pointed out before (and probably at nauseating length), the tendency to compel others to do/think/feel as we do seems to be genetically encoded somewhere in our DNA. No matter, though. I live alone, so I have absolute dominion over my decorating preferences. 80s hotel or not, I will eschew the elementary school Crayola palette and stick with the pale, soft, rich colors that I so love.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like “Roses of the Soul”,
which you can find in the archives from December 16, 2017.

The Great Paint Can Head Splash

§  Since I’ve already reproduced, I’m not a candidate for the Darwin Awards! But as I continue forging links to the chain of my days, I’ll probably find other, incredibly stupid ways to nearly do myself in.  §

Each morning before I eat breakfast, I boot up my laptop and read the news stories while sipping a cup of tea. This habit actually falls under the category of “Why, oh Why, Would I Even THINK This Was a Good Idea?”

I mean, really—consider it: news. Politics. Murders. Police brutality. Inane stories about celebrities. News story comments. Vicious name-calling and rude remarks.

Before breakfast. Every morning.

As I pointed out: Why would I even think this was a good idea?

And yet I have done and continue to do it.

But then, many things in my life fall under that category. And often, the question is not even so much why I ever thought these behaviors were a good idea, but how the hell I managed to survive them.

Take, for instance, the fact that I was, for years, in the very bad habit of waltzing out barefoot to pick up my mail from the mailbox—barefoot, or, at most, clad in stocking feet. Now, it’s just the length of the driveway from my front door to the mailbox, and my driveway is quite short. But I did this daily mail run regardless of the condition of the concrete: wet with rain; slick with whirligig seeds from the maple tree or slippery with autumn leaves; slightly glazed with ice; under pelting rain or even tiny hailstones or falling snow. Just a quick trip out to pick up the mail. No need to put on my shoes.

Only to fall on my butt. Not once, but several times. Or perhaps not fall—just find myself with arms windmilling and mail tossed every which way as I tried to stay upright.

Then there was the time that, beneath the soft rays of the Super Moon, I decided to decontaminate the poisonous atmosphere created by a nasty neighbor by going out with my salt and white sage bundle to cleanse the area around my house. Again, in my stocking feet—it was chilly, so I didn’t want to walk in bare feet. Having first lovingly scattered Himalayan pink salt all about the perimeter of my home, I lit my sage bundle and paced the boundary of the house, concentrating on positive thoughts. Forgiving thoughts. A very noble and praiseworthy action…if only I’d worn shoes. Because as the sage bundle burned down, the ash scattered. Scattered straight onto my toes. Where it immediately burned right through the sock. Ooow, ooow, ooow! (Goddamned nasty neighbor, this was all his fault, I wouldn’t have been burned if he had just not been acting like an ass so that I had to go out and cleanse his spitefulness from the atmosphere….)

Why, oh why, would I have ever even thought this was a good idea?!

Also under the heading of Really Not Bright Things That I Have Done was the six-month time period in which almost daily I reminded myself, “If I don’t wiggle under this desk and snake that computer cord to the back, I’m going to fall over it.” Of course, I didn’t, and I did. It took nearly another six months for my strained tendons to heal.

Then there was the day that I decided, while cleaning my carpets, that I was fed up with crawling down the stairwell on hands and knees while using the hand attachment. When I reached the landing where the stairwell turns, I resolved to stand on the floor of my entry way, reach over the two bottom steps, and use the upright carpet cleaner on the landing. This might not have been so bad an idea had I not decided to back down those two steps to the entryway below. That’s right—step down two steps backwards in shoes (for once) that were damp from working on the carpets of the upper floor.

Of course I slipped. Of course, I fell down those two steps. And of course, I slid prone across the laminate of the entryway, the carpet cleaner machine half on top of me, and slammed my head into the wall opposite.

After awhile, having determined that all I had was a goosegg and a headache as the price of my stupidity, I finished cleaning my carpets.

But, of all the things falling under the category of Stupid Things I Have Done and Yet Survived, none of them will ever beat The Great Paint Can Head Splash.

The original owner of my condo had, shall we say, unusual tastes in décor–as in a living room done in flat khaki greens and browns, and bathrooms painted dark, dark royal purple, or dried-blood red and poison green. Needless to say, repainting was a priority. The unused spare bedroom closet seemed a logical place to store the paint cans as the final touch-ups were done…or, that is, might have been a logical place had I not decided to store the cans on the upper closet shelf.

And so it came to pass that I went to grab a can of wall paint and work on touch-ups…only to discover, as I lifted it from the shelf, that the top had not been hammered on completely when it was last used. Like Captain Kirk under the rain of tribbles, I stood there as the can tipped and poured paint all over my head, my clothes, the closet floor, my hair–my freshly-colored hair….

Later that day, as I visited my daughter, she nobly refrained from commenting on the numerous ivory-pink paint speckles liberally bespattering my hair, despite two careful washings.

I’m sure that, as I continue forging links to the chain of my days, I’ll find other, incredibly stupid ways to nearly do myself in. Since I’ve already reproduced, though, I’m not a candidate for the Darwin Awards. And, happily, although those genetic testing kits don’t include it, I suspect my intelligent offsping escaped inheriting the “Why Oh Why Would I Even Think This Was a Good Idea?!” gene. I certainly hope so, anyway.