The non-extreme portion of Memorial Day weekend found E and I in Home Depot, contemplating paint chips for a redress of our new dining room. Or, rather, E was contemplating paint chips while I idly examined the paper quality and die cuts of the paint brochures.
“What colors do you think the dining room should be?” E queried, fist full of colored slips of high-end paper.
“You know me – everything spartan.”
(I pronounced “spartan” as “spahttan,” a Buffy in-joke about Faith and her seedy apartment.)
While reductive (and an in-joke), as a statement it’s essentially true – the colors I like in a home are white, hardwood, and bricks. That’s it. When pressed for a choice I will always pick the bluest option, unless it’s navy. Oh, and I enjoy stainless steel, where applicable. That’s about the extent of my home decor color preferences.
(Not coincidentally, our wedding colors were sapphire and platinum.)
I continued my careful examination of the paper samples for a moment, at which point E perhaps shot me a look, so I reluctantly joined the color browsing and continued the conversation.
“Well, the wood in that room is pretty blond, so there’s that to keep in mind. Not everything goes with that. You don’t want to pick something that would turn it into a vomitorium.”
Pointedly ignoring my last statement, E produced a deep purple chip. “What about this?”
“No, that would make me vomit.” Here the older couple standing next to us at the paint display began to eye me with caution.
“Can you possibly describe the qualities a color could have that would make you vomit?”
“Well, really there’s two different facets of vomitous colors.”
Having long since grown familiar with my peculiar brand of insanity, E braced for impact.
“First, there’s context. Like, when I was a teenager my mom had our back bedroom refinished for me, and I picked this seafoam-ish green for the walls. It had context – it was part of a palette with the ceiling, the hardwoods, and my area rug. But when you live in a room you’re not always seeing the entire palette, or looking at the walls in the context of the rug. Sometimes you are just staring at the wall and you realize it’s not ‘seafoam’ so much as ‘mint,’ like mint chocolate chip ice cream and, while it made for a beautiful palette, it’s not necessarily the most pleasant-to-look-at color all on its own, but now you’re surrounded by mint chocolate chip ice cream for the next three years.
“Suddenly my room had become a vomitorium.”
At this point the older couple, who had skirted me widely to continue to browse the paint colors, put down their samples and moved to a different display.
I continued. “Then, there are colors that are pretty in the short term but will be vomitous over a longer period of time. Like, see this ‘eggplant’ chip? I love this color. But I can tell it’s like ‘fork.'”
E perhaps thought she had reached an absolute apex of exasperation during my first monologue. However, here she seemed to discover a heretofore unknown height.
“Like a fork?” She said this with a slight steeliness to her voice, like she might abandon me here in Home Depot if I wasn’t the one with the GPS phone. However, I was wound up and could not be stopped.
“No, like ‘fork.’ Like, ‘fork’ makes sense. It’s a tidy little word – four prongs, four letters. But ‘fork’ is one of those words that can get weird. Like, if you say it too many times? Fork. Fork. Fork. Fork. Fork. After a while it begins to sound made up. Fork. Fork. Fork. Fork. It doesn’t seem like it could possibly have any meaning. Fork. Fork. Fork. Eventually it starts getting uncomfortable in your mouth. Fork. Fork. Why does it have to sound so quacky? Fork. That ‘k,’ it’s so unwieldy, it kind of unsettles your stomach. It kind of (fork) makes you (fork) nauseous (fork) to even say (fork) the (fork) word (fork).
“After a while,” I intoned, gravely, “you feel like you will vomit if you even see one, let alone say the word.”
“The word for…”
“No,” I interrupted, “please, don’t say it. I’ve already said it too much.”
We stood in silence at the paint display, E staring at me in glassy disbelief.
“You see, ‘eggplant’ as a color is just like f… just like that word. As a paint chip it’s lovely. In a web palette I adore it. On a wall … every day? Eventually it’s just going to wear me down. It will turn that room into a vomitorium.”
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
“I know exactly what it means, honey. It means a room that would make me vomit whenever I walked into it.”
That was pretty much the end of our browsing for paint chips.
(PS: This post is dedicated to my dear friend, SLska. Or, I should say, Master SLska.)