Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I Just Can't Escape This Color.

First a quiz, then a story...







You Are a Purple Crayon


Your world is colored in dreamy, divine, and classy colors.
You hold yourself to a sky high standard, and you are always graceful. (Obviously the writer of the test has never seen me zipline, or even trip over my own feet when I walk down the street.)

People envy, idolize, and copy you without realizing it. You are an icon for those who know you. (So why aren't you ALL wearing tie dye and Birkenstocks???)

And while it is hard to be a perfectionist, rest assured it's paying off! (Perfectionists never rest!!! What's wrong with you?)


Your color wheel opposite is yellow. While yellow people may be wise, they lack the manners and class needed to impress you. (Hhhm, but yellow is the color I want my bedroom to be.)





Onto the story...

My mother loves the color purple. LOVES purple. I have known a few other folks who love purple and I have to say there seems to be some inherent madness that attends this fondness for all things violet. No other color seems to elicit the same devotion or spark such mania. Even among lovers of purple my mom attains a special level of passion that far exceeds anyone else I have ever met.

She dates her love of the color to her teen years. All I know is that my entire childhood was bathed in shades ranging from deep purple to pale lilac. Mom was a seamstress so she made a lot of clothing...mostly in purple. My entire bedroom...purple. She tells the story of how she was helping me get dressed for school one day when I was 6 and I looked at her and intoned quite matter-of-factly, "Mommy, I really don't LIKE purple. I'd like to wear something else." She looked through my entire wardrobe and could not find anything that didn't have some element of purple on it. She was both cut to the heart and panic stricken by my stated dislike for her favorite color. She tells me as I outgrew clothes she began to let me choose other colors to wear until eventually I expunged every shade of purple from my wardrobe. I never again wore purple in any shade. In fact to this day I avoid it. I have exactly one purple item because Mr. Lime needed a shirt tie dyed purple as a sample for something. The person he had me make it for did not want it so it came back to me. My love of tie dye trumped my dislike for purple and I wear it as a pajama top.

My mother's passion for purple went beyond wearing it. When my dad left and we moved into town she bought one side of a small duplex. The siding was white and trim was black. In Pennsylvania Dutch country this "color" scheme was one of a few acceptable choices. Dark green, navy blue, or dark brown might also have been tolerated as trim colors. My mother of course chose to paint all the trim a shocking shade of purple. Initially she went with a very dark purple but she decided it was too likely to be mistaken as black so she quickly changed it to an unmistakable screaming, bright purple. Our house was across the street from the local high school. Between the location and the color we NEVER had to give anyone directions to our house. Where do you live? Do you know the purple house by the high school? Oh, yes. Are you next door? No, we are in it....blink blink...shuffling of feet...attempts at polite silence or kind remarks ultimately failing.

The above exchange reveals a bit more about the PA Dutch mentality regarding house color. The absurdity of the trim color meant the entire house was described as purple. The contamination was complete. We were actually listed on a Chamber of Commerce Scavenger Hunt one year (find the house number of The Purple House). If the neighbors were left in any doubt about my mother's sanity when she painted the trim they were convinced when she painted the entire carport purple and hung a giant sign which read "THINK PURPLE." Of course her innovation in reaching the second floor shutters for paint touch-ups may also have contributed to the neighbors' questions about her mental stability as well. Imagine a wisp of a woman standing on the second story window ledge while lashed with a leather belt to something heavy inside. Now add two kids reaching out of the window to hang on to each of her legs to keep her feet from slipping. I.am.not.making.this.up. This is the woman who dared to tell me I should know better than to go on a zipline without a harness. Had I not been overcome by anesthesia and heavy narcotic painkillers at the time I may have thought to remind her I learned from the best.

When I grew up and moved away I thought I'd be able to escape the color and its effect on my life. No purple clothes, no purple houses. Oh, and no purple cars. My mother had hers custom painted in her favorite shade. Then I had children and would you believe the very first color each of them could identify by name was PURPLE. Now, dear readers, let us consider normal language development in a child. One of the reasons that worldwide terms for female caregivers or mothers tend to have the M sound in them is because it is so easy for babies and toddlers to produce. They can randomly let their lips fall together as they hum and say mama or oma. Elated grownups reinforce this with glee and they begin to associate it with their mothers. Single syllable words with simple consonant sounds are easiest to learn. Thus, when learning colors one might expect RED to be first, perhaps followed by BLUE or GREEN. Not my children. Nooooo. Each one of them cooed out PURPLE much to the absolute delight of my mother, who I believe whispered to them in their sleep.

Eventually my mother built a new house with my stepfather and rented out the old house we grew up in. It was no surprise when the new house had purple carpets and walls in both the dining room and her bedroom. When the old house's trim needed painting it was surprising that my mother let the tenants chose the new color. No one was shocked when they opted for blue though it was interesting to hear that the neighbors were sad to loose the purple. I was surprised myself to find I felt a little bit of sadness that I could no longer go drive past the purple house of my childhood. The house is still standing. It's still recognizable as my old house, but there's a little something missing to not see the screaming purple shutters, door and railings. I think somehow all that purple seeped into my soul and is in a lot of ways responsible for me being able to be comfortable enough to state preferences that don't conform to everyone else's expectation or tastes. So thanks, Mom. Anyone want some tie dye?






31 comments:

James Goodman-Horror Writer said...

i got the red crayon...

Your world is colored with bright, vivid, wild colors.
You have a deep, complex personality - and you are always expressing something about yourself.
Bold and dominant, you are a natural leader. You have an energy that is intense... and sometimes overwhelming.
Your reaction to everything tends to be strong. You are the master of love-hate relationships.

Your color wheel opposite is green. Green people are way too mellow to understand what drives your energy.

oh, and I can get on board with the tie dye, but I don't think I can pull off Birkenstocks. :D

Flash said...

I was a Blue crayon...but the problem is I'm color Blind...

So to me, it was gray.

Seamus said...

HA! I'm a purple too!

We had a great purple house in our Seattle neighborhood. The house sold a few months before our and the first thing the new owners did was paint it some version of taupe like all the rest of the neighbors! We missed that purple house!

furiousBall said...

I'm a blue crayon, which is fine it matches my ball.

S said...

Oh I gotta send Polty over to read this.

Well thankfully, I live next door to the town weirdos...at least I am NOT the town weirdo.
:P

We have quite a few purple houses here as you might well imagine. Although we are used to it by now, it still makes for chuckle. I'm talking about lavender houses not just the siding, with like green trim.....

Have a lovely day Lime.

Casdok said...

Im also a purple!

VE said...

I won't answer...it's unfair. I have the largest crayon collection in the world (not kidding). I could tell you every color of crayon Crayola has ever used in their 100+ history. I'm sure you've never seen an English Vermillian crayon before... PS, did you know that they have changed the naming of their purple crayon between Violet and Purple multiple times?

Suldog said...

As you may know from reading my stuff, my favorite musical group is Deep Purple. However, the color itself is far from one of my favorites. As a matter of fact, I have a minor bit of color blindness, and I have a great deal of difficulty recognizing whether certain shades are purple or blue. The brighter shades of both, no problem. But get to the darker hues, and I have to hazard a guess. So, no wonder it is not a favorite!

coopernicus said...

When we went to look at a house that eventually became our first house in Central PA, we were..well...shocked may be too strong a word...surprised to see the master bedroom decorated thus: royal purple wall to wall carpet (that real thick stuff that most vacuums could not clean..I remember being on my hands and knees with a dog brush to get the junk out) lilac colored wall, lilac colored curtains, purple bedspread and purple fuzzy Kleenex box cover. We immediately painted the walls white and went with white curtains, bedspread and no Kleenex box cover. We couldn't do anything with the rug because we just couldn't afford it.
When were ready to move we rented the house (another long story) to a nice older couple. They asked if they could do some painting and I said sure. Several months later I went to pay a visit on them to see how things were going. They took me 'round the house. Everything looked great. Then we cam to the master bedroom with the royal purple carpet...only now the walls were lime green.

coopernicus said...

Same as James the Horror Writer...
surprise, surprise

Red Crayon

barman said...

I came up as a green with red being my opposite. Nature and easy going and stuff with red trying to disrupt me. Funny, my favorite color in real life is RED followed by TEALish followed by PURPLE (shudder). I am afraid I forced myself to stop bying red clothes however as one needs some veriety. I must admit I would not have a RED house however.

I love your story. Funny how all your kids said PURPLE first. I suspect your mother on that one too. Funny how we miss something we never thought we miss.

Tie-dye does sound nice. I think I need to join the club.

Jeni said...

Color me yellow?
Your world is colored with happy, warm, fun colors.
You have a thoughtful and wise way about you. Some people might even consider you a genius.
Charming and eloquent, you are able to get people to do things your way.
While you seem spontaneous and free wheeling, you are calculating to the extreme.

Your color wheel opposite is purple. You both are charismatic leaders, but purple people act like you have no depth.

Hmmm -I'm not so sure about getting people to do things my way -nor the "genius" deal either. But, whatever, that's what my test results say.

Younger daughter here though could perhaps pass for your mother's child as purple shades have almost always been her favorites. Although, she's not painted any trim on the house in any of those hues. Not yet, anyway.

gab said...

OH MY you could be almost writing about my mom. Only thing is my parents didnt do the trim they did the whole dang house in a very dark purple. As a child my favorite color was blue. But once the house was painted purple I started to like purple as much. So when asked what my favorite color was I said blurple. People looked at me like I was having troubles talking then because they knew my sister was handicapped they nodded knowing and said oh yes thats my favorite color too. Oh how I used to laugh at them. To this day I still have a hard time decieded which I like best. I mostly wear blue but if I could find just the right blouse or t-shirt that was purple I would wear it. Now my childhood home is green only because when mom and dad went to siding they didnt have either blue or purple. I want a purple bathroom and if I get my way I will do it! lol

gab said...

Oh and Im a yellow color crayon! NOT

Jocelyn said...

Terrific story--I appreciate the love interwoven into the recounting of things that were embarrassing at the time. GOOOO, Lime's mom!

As a redhead, I was trained by me ma not to go near purple. About five years ago, I went "Hey, wait a minute...I can wear purple if I want."

I will be picturing your childhood house the rest of my day.

Jocelyn said...

Oh, and I'm a green crayon. The description fits me pretty well.

I love pop culture psychology so much!

citizen of the world said...

Great story.

The quiz says I'm a red crayon.although red is one of my least favorite colors. Green, I say.

Breazy said...

I too got the purple crayon.

My grandmothers favorite color was always purple then my second child came along and she loved the color more than my grandma. I guess purple is an okay color but I have always had a love for pink, anything pink. I like all sorts of colors but pink is my favorite followed up by blue and red.

I thought of you on Easter day. We went out to lunch after church. We chose chinese food and while they were serving our spring rolls a girl walks in with a tie-dyed t-shirt on, she rounded it off with a pair of bright red shorts which looked very good with the shirt. I told my husband and kids that I wish I had brought my camera to get a pic for you.

Have a good day!

cathy said...

"I feel a numbing purple fog permeate my heavy heart
Its creeping tendrils fill my mind with melancholy mauve"

Taken from "Abyss of Despair"

by :) me

Yikes it said I'm a yellow crayon! I hate yellow, except for daffodils.

barman said...

Oh I forgot to mention. I am most boring when it comes to how I painted my house. All but two rooms are painted WHITE. My little bedroom upstairs by the master bedroom is a light but not bright blue. My downstairs bedroom that I need to repaint is a very, very, very, very light shade of PURPLE. Oh and the carpet has flecks of purple in it to match somewhat. I painted it flat and I want to paint it semi gloss. I think I will go with a little darker, but yet still very light, purple.

~Tim said...

I'll take tie dye!

Based on your theory of language development, it seems to me that the first color a child learns to say should be mauve. Hey, mauve is purple, isn't it?

Mark Leslie said...

Your Mom sounds like an amazing woman -- I think it's time for you to embrace the color - slowly, of course. Perhaps a nice lime/purple striped number to ease into it . . . have you ever bought your mother the book "When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple" by Sandra Halderman Martz?

lecram said...

What a wonderful story, Lime. Problem is I'm color blind and always had difficulty with ... purple. lol!

Kathryn said...

That is a fabulous story. I love that you are the purple crayon. Just fabulous!
I am the red crayon.

Dorky Dad said...

You're totally right about purple lovers being so purple obsessed. And I have no idea why.

But I refuse to believe that you're the purple crayon.

SignGurl said...

Oh, Michelle, I feel for the girl who had to tell people she lived in the purple house. I know it didn't feel like it then, but these are the details that shaped you into the beautiful person you are.

G-Man said...

I dropped some Purple-Haze acid once!!!
It was Groovy!!!
God that sounded old..G
xoxox

KFarmer said...

Call me a red crayon too and I'm not surprised. It's my favorite color :)

I loved your little purple house story :)

Bunny said...

We purple people are special. My childhood bedroom is still purple. I had it decorated in purple when I was 8. They let me re-do the room when I moved back for 6 months when I was 24. I got rid of the tri-shade purple shag and replaced it with a more respectable mono-shade purple plush. Replaced the flowered purple wallpaper with updated flowered purple wallpaper. I'm a rebel.

A guy in my hometown got an order from the city to paint his house since the paint was peeling. He didn't like the government telling him what to do, so he painted the whole (3 story) Victorian era house lavendar, with darker purple trim and shutters. He threw in a touch of mauve here and there, just for fun. It will forever be known as "The Purple House" in Holland, MI.

San said...

I confess, Lime: I am fond of purple. The trim in two of my rooms is painted a deep eggplant and you've already seen that picture of my "studio." Your mother sounds amazing. I believe some of her originality rubbed off on you.

I took the crayon test back in the fall. I was an orange crayon. But I had hanging chads.

Polt said...

I'm really rather jealous. I got the red crayon. :( And we all know how I feel about purple.

Good for you though. :)

HUGS...