My bright ideas
This is about the closest thing to a compliment that the new shutters on my house and the new color of the front door have received.
Colorblindness runs in my family. I am not colorblind. I have what I believe to be a mild hue-blindness. The color wheel doesn’t have as many options for me as it may for you. Where you see tiny squares of incremental differences, I see long rectangles of sameness. I once tried to use this fact as an excuse for my mediocre grade in a poetry class. My professor did not agree that this had any effect on my lackluster submissions — or my growing number of class absences.
Bright has often been used to describe my adornments.
Wow, that outfit is… bright.
Wow, that computer case is… bright.
Wow, those shutters are… bright.
A few days ago, a neighbor sent out a message on our community Facebook page that she will be going around and looking at design choices of homes up close. She said she likes what a number of folks have done recently to spruce up their homes and will be on our properties simply to get ideas for her own home. When I ran into this neighbor, I warned her about some of the lumber to the side of our driveway that we are using for our fence.
“Careful not to trip,” I told her.
“Oh, don’t worry. I won’t be coming by your house. My taste isn’t so… bright.”
When I was 12, my family went to Florida to visit my dad’s best friend from childhood. He has a daughter, Annie, who is a year older than I, and we opted to get away from the boring adult catch-up session and go to the mall with her friend. I can’t remember how the day unfolded or who was driving us. I know we didn’t have a car, because we wound up hitchhiking back to her house.
“Not bright, kid. Not bright!” my mom said, furious.
I didn’t want to talk about my adventures in sticking my thumb up on the side of a highway in an unknown town with people I barely knew. What was the big deal anyway? I wanted to talk about my brush with fame. Earlier in the evening, though I can’t recall how exactly, we had been given a ride into an exclusive neighborhood. After being checked in at the gate, we drove past the biggest mansions I’d ever seen and pulled in to the driveway of a house next to the brightest house imaginable. It was pink, if you lit pink on fire, with radioactive-green shutters. Colored spotlights shone up at the mansion, cascading the face of the home in orange circles, making it look like a case of the chickenpox. There were swirling yellows and aqua blue trims, and I couldn’t look away. It was both tacky and magical.
“You like that house?” Annie’s friend said as she got into the car. “Our next-door neighbor is Dan Marino.”
I didn’t know football, but I did have “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” memorized. This house was as close as I’d ever been to meeting someone famous. And it was especially great because it wasn’t just a handshake on the street. I had a real glimpse into the life of a famous person. I was looking at his house. And man, was it… bright.
In retrospect, I don’t believe that house belonged to Dan Marino. Annie’s friend lied nonstop that day at the mall, about things she had done and people she partied with — her best lie perhaps being that hitchhiking home is totally safe and proves that one is cool.
The house has always stuck with me. That said, bright is not what I was going for when I opted to paint the shutters on my house and the front door. I was just trying to navigate away from dull. Our brick home had a black door and black shutters and just felt blah. I don’t want to feel blah when I pull up to my home. I want my home to be a reflection of me. Now that it is, I’m finding that my personality is a tad hard on the eyes.
My dad has suggested I repaint. So have a couple of neighbors. We are sticking with the colors for now. If anyone asks about the crazy house at the end of the block, just say Dan Marino lives there.
Katie Langrock is a
nationally syndicated columnist.