Thursday, July 17, 2008

Paint Chips and the Empowered Woman

One important lesson I have learned in my life is that the most simple home projects can balloon into complicated catastrophes. In my experience, changing a single light bulb can manifest into picking out new faucets or installing a new floor.
Be forewarned. Do-it-yourself projects breed more projects. They don't stay confined in your imagination or your notebook. They spread out over the entire house, spill into the yard, and take over not only your life, but your wallet, too.
Take for example, the rainy day that I sat at home and stared at the living room walls. It became a game for me trying to figure out what the fingerprints surrounding the light switches looked like. A puppy, a balloon, the Mona Lisa. That's when I came to the conclusion that it was time to paint.
With all the colors of the rainbow and the universe, you would think that picking out paint would be a breeze. I wasn't prepared for what I faced in the paint aisle at my local DIY center.
Rows and rows of paint chips, color swatches, brochures and booklets overwhelmed my optical senses. It was visual overload. It made the sixty-four count box of crayons that I had as a child look pitiful.
Nearly falling into a fainting spell, I was temporarily saved by a old gentleman in a blue vest named Bruce.
“We have two aisles of paint and thousands of colors to choose from,” smiled Bruce, “If you need me, I'll be over in aisle ten.”
And as quickly as he appeared, he disappeared, leaving me to groovy world of tie-dyed walls.
I knew immediately that I was in trouble. I realized that the fifteen minute trip I planned to pick out paint would turn into days and days of agony and suffering, of decisions and choices, of sleepless nights and nightmares of swirling colors and dancing paint cans, and rollers with faces.
But a simple flashback of my dirty white walls at home empowered me to grab a novel sized stack of paint chips and leave the tunnel of color before hallucinations set in.
Later that evening, as my husband and I finished supper, I began spreading the paint samples out in front of him, hoping that his eye and his possible input would create a quick choice of what suddenly seemed like madness.
“Do you like Evening Sunset, or how about Morning Kiss? Thunder Rose, or Cowboy?” I questioned him.
He gave only non-vocal answers. The arch of an eyebrow, the twist of his lips, a slight nod of his head in either direction.
I persisted.
“Rusty Pear or Kentucky Derby?, I asked, holding up the little colored squares so that he couldn't see the TV. “Brushed Linen or Roman Holiday?”
This went on for hours and hours till the living room floor was carpeted with a confetti of variegated paper paint chips whose names read like some Ralph Lauren nightmare. There were colors that I had never seen in my life, and some I hoped never to see again.
Three days and two sleepless nights later, I marched into the paint store with my husband in tow, confident that I had narrowed my selection down enough to confer with the paint specialist in aisle seven. It was Bruce again. This time attempting to be a little more helpful.
“So, what can I get for you today ?” he said with a hint of torture in his voice. “Egg shell, satin. gloss, semi-gloss- high gloss, flat, indoor, outdoor, mildew resistant, historical, special effects, or concrete paint ?”
Suddenly I felt weak. The tunnel of color was vibrating around me, each sample whispering their fancy name.
“Well,” I stuttered, realizing I had forgotten the color names I had picked out, “I left the samples at home.”
“Quite all right,” Bruce assured me, “What color family were they in? Or how would you best describe them?”
Aware that I was having a slight brain fog, my husband attempted to explain to Brucie that I had chosen a bright white for the ceilings and a soft, muted brown for the walls.
Bruce looked down his glasses at us, totally confused and asked if we could be more specific.“
For a moment I realized how ridiculous it was. I was determined that this DIY job would not get the best of me. I was a woman! I knew what I wanted! And, by golly, those names and choices were not going to stop me! I was not going to be intimidated!
“Milk and Poop” I blurted out. “We'll be in aisle ten if you need us.”