Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Sky's the Limit

All told, I believe there are at least 764 shades of the color blue that are completely indistinguishable to my eyes, but my wife has the innate ability to differentiate each and every one. Stranger still, when I tell her that Cerulean and Celestial look identical to me, she’ll say things like, “Oh, come on. The Cerulean has way more red in it, and the Celestial tends to be more yellow.” How can “blue” be red or yellow? Aren’t we talking about the three primary colors, the basic building blocks of all other colors?

I would like to say that this truly shouldn’t matter to me, but I just spent my afternoon painting an entire wall Blue #429 – it has a name, I’m sure, but I dare not mention it for fear that one of you out there will send back to me a twelve-page thesis on the distinguishing characteristics of this particular shade of Blue. Exhaustion has overtaken me, and I just couldn’t take that. I’m not so exhausted from the physical labor involved; my arms are a bit fatigued, but that’s most likely due more to my personal lack of muscle. The exhaustion, quite honestly, stems from my watching a non-stop virtual tennis volley between my wife’s two minds on the subject of the color. “I think that will go really well with the couch and the black chairs.” “That’s way too nautical blue.” “It really softens up the room.” “I was going more for the color of that pillow.” Just when it seemed like one side had smashed it over the net to decide the match, the other would make an unexpected comeback that seemed just as devastating. Am I rooting for the side that likes the color as it is? Of course! More to the point, though: I just want it over. As I write this, I believe Erin’s in bed right now muttering pros and cons in her sleep.

Earlier today, before the paint was purchased and ushered into our home, I went on a hike with our oldest son, Jack. While we were out communing with nature and swatting at mosquitoes, I decided it was a good time to spring “the Birds & the Bees” talk on him. As I finished the short discourse, I asked him if it made sense, and he said, “Sort of.” I could tell from his befuddled response that I had taken him completely by surprise, and the topic of discussion was so far from his view of the world, he thought I had been out in the sun too long. I got that. So, I gave us both an easy out and said, “Well, when you start having questions along those lines, just ask me.” His response to this was calculated and well delivered: “You wanna throw rocks at that flower on top of that cactus?”

I can honestly say that the details of my explanation were pretty straightforward but limited to fit the audience. However, maybe the approach was all wrong. Granted, I don’t want my children getting their information from other kids at school, television, or a former President of the United States – so I do need to get them the facts. But while I’m preparing them to embrace the responsibilities of adulthood and married life, I should begin the discussion with the question: “How many shades of blue do you think there are in the world, son?”