Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Color Me Confused

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Color Me Confused

Article excerpt

I think that, at root, choice is a good thing. Unless one plans on buying interior paint.

Which brings me to my bedroom, last painted when Ronald Reagan was president. The time had come for some sprucing up. Would it be basic white, or a cool green? Perhaps light blue? These were the three possibilities that came to mind. Little did I know that the culture of paint had undergone a calamitous revolution since last I looked.

Off I went to the home improvement warehouse, where I was approached by a paint "consultant." When I mentioned the three choices under consideration, the pleasant young man wrinkled his nose and asked if he could make a suggestion. "I'm all ears," I told him.

He gently revealed that things had progressed to the point at which it was no longer a question of white, green, or blue. The strictures had been removed, the imagination set free, the spectrum of colors exploded, and customers were the happy recipients of the largess. "May I suggest Coconut Milk?" he probed.

Taken off guard, all I could utter was, "How's that?"

"Coconut Milk," he repeated matter-of-factly. "Or maybe something a little duskier?"

"Ah," I responded. "You're talking about paint!" And then, "Yes, maybe duskier."

The consultant presented me with one of those little paint chip cards, showing, in addition to Coconut Milk, the following fantastic shades: Timber Dust, Dust Bunny, Brown Buzz, and the magnificently dubbed Coral Gable Biltmore Mediterranean Mocha.

Who on earth came up with these names? Was there someone - the Mel Blanc of paint names, perhaps - sitting in a remote studio, racking his brain for appropriate descriptors? Did he one day add a tad too much milk to his coffee and exclaim, "That's it! Coral Gable Biltmore Mediterranean Mocha!"?

The thing is, I've always enjoyed interior painting. There's no easier, more economical and dramatic way to brighten a room than to treat its walls to a coat of fresh paint. Perhaps my problem is that I grew up in simpler times with far fewer choices. …

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