Friday, May 05, 2017

Simply And Objectively Superior

I don't think I'm color blind, but my wife does. For years I wore a very cool brown suede trench coat. One evening, we were about to leave for a dinner party and she suggested I wear my "green suede" trench coat. On occasion I have to ask kids if it's "blue or purple." And I sometimes mistake certain greens for yellow . . . I'll let each reader be her own judge. 

That said, I freely admit that colors don't matter much to me, although if left to my own devices I'll tend to wear bright ones. I am perfectly happy with how I see colors, but it's possible that I don't see them the way the rest of you do.

Many years ago, in our old space, we needed to paint our classroom walls. I figured it might be difficult to rally a contingent of parents to give up part of the weekend for the project, but it hadn't occurred to me that the biggest challenge would be deciding on the color. Oh man, we had a lot of meetings about the color. I tried to be amused, but frankly, enrollment time was coming up and I didn't want prospective parents to reject us based on peeling paint. Honestly, I don't care much about color -- I'm more of a texture-sound-space guy -- so my knee-jerk expectation was that we would vote on a color -- red, blue, yellow -- then someone would go buy red, blue or yellow paint. But that's only because I was forgetting something I should have remembered: some people are as passionate about color as I am about, say, bacon.

Anyhow, we finally settled on a kind of butter yellow. I knew then that is was a pretty damned fine result considering that it was a color chosen by committee. A few years earlier we had lived in a condo near Seattle's heart and soul, Pike Place Market, and it was determined that the lobby wall would be painted. The color proposed by a professional designer was a very bold brick red, something against which other colors would really pop. I whole-heartedly supported this color, but others felt differently. Many just wanted to tone it down, add a little white to it. Others felt red was the wrong direction altogether, suggesting yellows or blues or hues between them on the color wheel.

The discussion was polite, opinions were firmly asserted, and compromises were made, slowly, over a month or more, each one resulting in our color becoming increasingly brown. Then the darker browns began to be eliminated until we came to colors with names like taupe, fawn, ecru, buff, sand, oatmeal, camel, tan. One of them was chosen, I don't know which, and everyone walked away not entirely happy, because no one had started at beige.

In yesterday's post about children deciding to paint their community art project "rainbow," I wrote this aside:

. . . while committees of preschoolers almost always agree to rainbow, committees of adults tasked with choosing colors almost always settle on some version of beige.

This is the moral of my story from yesterday, one that I only came to through the writing of it.

I have never had a class of 3-5 year olds who have not chosen rainbow when faced with a decision over which color to paint something that belongs to all of us. It comes up at least once a year. With the exception of our butter yellow, adults in similar circumstances, tend toward beige.

I don't care much about colors, but I'm drawn to bright ones, so I'm prejudiced in favor of the kids here. Aesthetically, rainbow is simply and objectively superior to beige. I think we can all agree on that. But on a deeper level, when one looks at it as philosophy or metaphor, there is no contest: the adults bicker their way to the least offensive solution, while their kids always opt, joyfully and proudly in most cases, for the most inclusive: simply and objectively superior.

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1 comment:

Sarah said...

I detest beige, I love kids and rainbows. They do have those glasses that allow you to see full spectrum color if you are ever curious��

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