Knotty Nomenclature

Could you bring a different nomenclature?
Now the colors have bled to grey
To ones that don’t exist in nature ~Andrew Bird

My walls are not white.

This is not the issue. The issue is, when attempting to refer to their shade when speaking with my mother this morning, I found myself quite unable to decide what fucking color they are. Because I have no idea what the difference is between ecru and eggshell, taupe and beige.

I went with “off-white.” Seemed like a good catch-all term. Because, let’s face it…

There are too fucking many names for colors. And I’m right sick of it, galleons.

“What color would you say that is?” asked a man I work with the other night. I stared blankly at him, uttering a drawn-out “Uh….” before shrugging. “Brown, I guess. I don’t really know.”

Because was it chestnut or chocolate? Sienna or mahogany? Burnt umber or auburn or maple?

I have no fucking idea.

Presenting me with such a bewildering array of color names makes me want to hyperventilate, then punch the nearest woman in the face. Because it’s all their fault:

But I got to thinking about it.

And I realized that women are not to blame. So, let’s lay the blame at the feet of those truly responsible for this supersaturation of preposterous color names:

Fuck you, Crayola.

Do you know how many crayon names there are? A shit ton, that’s what. They are like Pokemon. There are 133 “standard” colors (though, honestly, is Macaroni and Cheese really a standard color by anyone’s definition?), along with a slew of specialty shades (metallic, glitter, neon, etc).

I loved my crayons as a child. Got me that big ol’ 64-count pack, the one with the built-in sharpener and instant kiddie rep. God, those were the days. The days when all it took to win the respect and admiration of your peers was to amble into class on your first day of kindergarten, shrug off your gigantic, over-stuffed backpack, and pull out the Holy Grail of childhood:

Can you remember sitting there with your friends, all clustered around a table, chattering away and passing crayons back and forth as you colored? And you’d always get to the point where you’ve forgotten whatever-fuck-name Crayola has assigned the particular crayon you want (either because you never bothered to learn the name or because the paper wrapper got ripped off or because you are too busy making a genius waxy Picasso to bother with such trivial things as crayon names), so all you could do was point in the direction of the person hoarding the crayon you need, saying, “I need the blue one. The BLUE one. No, the other blue one. That one. Right there. By the green one. YES, THAT ONE. I NEED IT.”

I always needed “the blue one.” And by “the blue one,” I always meant the cerulean crayon. It was the very prettiest shade of blue, and I swear to Feynman, it ended up in every picture I drew/colored. It got worn down to a little nub faster than any other color (even the oh-so-useful black).

But that is neither here nor there.

All I know is that Crayola starts it. They give us this huge ocean of color names… and then the cosmetics companies and paint companies turn that ocean into a fucking tsunami.

There is nothing more frivolous and absurd than the naming of nail polish. I was first introduced to this at the nail salon my mother went to when I was young. While she got those hideous acrylic claws touched up and sanded, I fiddled with the nail polishes along the wall. Their names were always bizarre. The only one I remember is Purplopolis, but it’s always stuck with me as just about the silliest thing I can imagine.

Don’t believe me? Here are some truly phenomenal nail polish color names:

  • After Sex
  • Cool As
  • Deer Valley Spice
  • Lemonade Stand By Your Man
  • Dickweed
  • Iris I Was Thinner
  • Red Thong in Divorce Court
  • Friar, Friar, Pants on Fire!
  • What’s Dune?

…That last one is fucking blasphemy, on top of being utterly ridiculous.

So tell me, dear galleons. With all this color fuckery floating about, how the hell am I supposed to figure out what the hell someone is talking about when they mention wanting to paint their bedroom Rosso Corsa? When they ask me if their lipstick is more red or more burgundy? If they should use the pink paper or the fuchsia paper for flyers?

Color naming is just too fucking arbitrary. It seems to change depending on situation and who you’re talking to. Some people are content when I say that a particular hair color is brown, while others demand to know if it is a dark chocolate or a rich auburn or warm caramel.

My walls are off-white. Whether that’s eggshell or ecru or beige by your definition, I don’t really give a fuck. Just because I have a vagina doesn’t mean I understand this clusterfuck of color names.

…And what the fuck is chartreuse, anyway?

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