Tag Archives: colour

Colour Me Psychotic

Even though I’ve mostly recovered from my ill-fated career as an interior designer, I’m still fascinated with colour.  You’ve got to be impressed by the way something that simple can drive people to the brink of psychosis.

This isn’t just my usual hyperbole – studies show that while most people become agitated and anxious when enclosed in a bright red room, individuals with some forms of psychosis actually become calmer when surrounded by such an “angry” colour.  (I’m not going to speculate on the meaning behind the bright orange-red walls in the last interior design office where I worked.  They were probably trying to tell me something.)

But my favourite form of colour psychosis can be observed in paint stores.  I’ve seen couples nearly come to blows over whether their walls should be painted “Prairie Light” or “Paper Lantern” – two off-white swatches that look slightly different when held side by side, but will in fact be indistinguishable once the entire room is painted.

Maybe that’s why I never did well as an interior designer – I could clearly discern the differences between the colours; I just couldn’t discern any reason why it mattered.  If I painted their living room without telling them, that couple would never be able to tell which paint colour I’d used, and within a few months they wouldn’t remember either of the names anyway.

I don’t understand why paint manufacturers give their colours such ambiguous names.  What colour is “Wayside Inn” anyway?  Red?  Brown?  White?  And who’s going to remember it when it’s time to buy more paint?

They need more memorable names, like the one my dad used to describe an unpleasant murky brownish green:  “Shitbrindle”.  (My dad never used vulgar language.  Ever.  This is another example of colour psychosis.)

Or my step-mom’s name for that particularly nasty shade of green that was popular in the 70s:  “Goat-Vomit Green”.  Or my neighbour’s comment when he first laid eyes on the nice bronzy yellow I’d chosen for our entry walls:  “Baby Shit”.  (Da Blog Fodder more tastefully names it “Calf Scour”, which is essentially the same thing but you have to be a farmer to get the joke.)

There’s even an (unintentional) app for generating memorable paint names.  Here are my favourite autocorrect colour translations from DamnYouAutocorrect:

Fuchsia = Fuckweasel

Persian Red = Period Red

European Sunrise = Effervescent Shitstain

Smoky Ridge = Smoker’s Teeth

Periwinkle = Period Tinkle or Pussywrinkled

Any time I’m out with my friends, somebody is sure to point at a fuchsia blouse and whisper “fuckweasel”.  And seriously, who wouldn’t want their walls painted with “Effervescent Shitstain”?

I think the paint manufacturers are missing out on a huge untapped market here.  They should print up their swatches with the colour formula on the back, and skip the naming entirely.  Then they could maintain a database where they record the colour names their customers provide.

‘Cause let’s face it, you’ll probably forget “St. George Island”, but “Atomic Vomit Green” will stay in your brain forever.

Here’s my attempt at naming a few colours. C’mon and play – any other suggestions?

Hooker’s Lips

Hooker’s Lips

Month-Old Bread

Month-Old Bread

Baby’s Bum

Baby’s Bum

Don’t Let Dad Barbeque

Don’t Let Dad Barbeque

Radioactive Algae

Radioactive Algae

Shouldn't Have Eaten That Burrito

Bad Burrito


Filed under Humour


I’ve reluctantly come to accept that I’m a cheapskate.

I tend to make do with what I’ve got until it’s long past time the item was replaced.  When I finally do buy a new item, I’m willing to pay for the features I need, but I refuse to pay extra for non-essentials.  Like colour.  (Which probably explains why I was such a resounding failure as an interior designer, but that’s another story.)

Self-help programs point out that it’s necessary to first identify and accept that you have a problem before healing can begin.  My cheapskate epiphany came when I realized I’ve owned nothing but white cars since 1989.

I’ve disliked white cars since I was old enough to pronounce the words “I like the red one better”.

In 1989, I bought a well-used 1975 Dodge Dart for $1100, which was all I could afford at the time.  It had one of the old 225 slant-six engines you couldn’t kill with a howitzer, and I loved that car so much that I forgave it for being white.  (Plus it had sporty stripes on the sides, so it wasn’t completely white.)

When the Dart rusted away several years later, I bought a 1986 Taurus cheap at an auction because it was (again) all I could afford.  It was a piece of shit.  I spent more time repairing it than I did driving it.  And it was white.

In 1998, I’d been divorced for a couple of years and I was back on my feet.  I decided I deserved a new car.  I’d never bought a vehicle off the lot before, and it was time, dammit.  No more hand-me-downs.  No more making do.

Off I went to the Saturn dealer to buy a new car.  Any colour I wanted.  Ha!

But they offered me a deal.  They had a demo on sale.  It was brand new except for the few hundred kilometres that had been put on by the dealership’s test drives.  And they’d knock $6,000 off the price and give me an extra year’s warranty.

Yeah, you guessed it.  I’m still driving it.  It’s been a great car.

But it’s white.

Because I’m a cheapskate, my motorcycle helmet has a fiery red skull on the back, and there’s cabbage-rose-patterned furniture in my living room.  Many would consider those patterns to be mutually exclusive.  I mean, really, most people are either flaming-skull or cabbage-rose, right?

But the helmet had all these great features, and it was cheaper than the plain black one.

And really, the furniture wasn’t my fault.  My mother chose the pattern.  Back around 1973.  That furniture has survived exposure to decades of children, cats, three different households in two provinces, and nearly 40 years of direct sun, all without fading or sagging or showing any visible signs of wear and tear.  I’m pretty sure it would survive a nuclear holocaust.

It is, however, violently unfashionable.  When I said “cabbage-rose”, you thought muted pinks, didn’t you?  Wrong-o.  The background is navy blue with poison-green leaves, and the cabbage roses are blue and orange.  Big suckers, about 5” across.  That furniture is so obnoxious, it even makes my fiery skull shudder.

I don’t want to spend the money right now, but some day, I’ll buy new furniture.  Any colour I want.  Ha!

…Is there an echo in here?

Please tell me there’s somebody else out there who makes do with not-so-perfect colours for the sake of frugality (which is a much nicer way to say ‘cheapness’).


Filed under Humour, Life