• Joseph

Paint: Color Me Confused

As a youngster, I used to dream about all the exciting jobs I would have one day. But as the years rolled by, I eventually loss hope of ever achieving any of my dream jobs: astronaut (I'm prone to motion sickness), shark hunter (I enjoy having 10 fingers), Yankees center fielder (darn you Mickey Mantle), and swimsuit-model suntan applicator (I'm cocoa-butter intolerant). But there's a new dream job that I now covet: I want to be the person who names paint colors.

It seems like a great job. There’s no heavy lifting, you’re not likely to be mangled by machinery, and apparently it’s impossible to do wrong. While shopping for paint recently I became quite bemused--and slightly confused--by the names assigned to paints. Here are just a few actual paint colors: Poetic Princess, Ruffles, Spoonful of Sugar, Bride to Be, Messenger Bag, Jogging Path, Cargo Pants, Squirrel Tail, Tippy Toes, Grandma’s Sweater, Kitten Whiskers, Going to the Chapel, Un-Teal We Meet Again, Yin Yang, Squish-Squash, and Sticks & Stones. (Want to bet they're working on a color called, Break Your Bones?)

Some paints sound as if they were named after condominium complexes: Maple Valley, Whispering Woods, Cedar Ridge, Crystal Springs, Harbor Town, Laurel Woods, and Warren Acres. It’s also strange that so many paint colors have food-related titles: Spinach White, Apple Crunch, Celery Sticks, Salmon Peach, Pale Shrimp, Mixed Fruit, Bana-Appeal, Steamed Milk, Portobello, Flan, White Raisin, Fresh Guacamole, Hearts of Palm, Creamy Oat, Toasted Pumpkin, Pineapple Upside Down Cake, and Sonic Plum. (Are displaced chefs working for paint manufacturers?)

Animal names are big, too, even though they don't make much sense: Fawn’s Leap, Crocodile, Box Turtle, Horsehair, Black Fox, Yellow Warbler, Tiger Eye, White Duck, Illusive Fawn, and Roaming Pony. Like most of us, I suspect the folks who name paint colors have days when their hearts—and heads— just aren't into their jobs. Otherwise, what sensible explanation could there possibly be for the following clueless paint names: Fusion, Mysterious, Stunning, Balmy, Anonymous, Brainstorm, Vibrant, Enchanting, Composed, Outrageous, Retreat, Grounded, Enigma, Breathless, Howard, Claude, Gymnast, and Someday (as in, “someday” I'll eventually get around to painting this room).

None of these names give the slightest clue as to the shade of paint. Plus, who wants to admit to painting their bedroom a lovely shade of Bagel. (Yes, there actually is a paint color named, Bagel; I guess you’d have to find a paint called, Cream Cheese for the trim work.)

If I were ever fortunate enough to get the call from Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore, I'd like to introduce my own line of signature paints, based on delicatessen cold cuts. You know, something like, German Bologna Brown, Carefree Corned Beef, Heavenly Hard Salami, Pouty Prosciutto, and Obstinate Olive Loaf. (Hey, I guy can dream can’t he?)

Besides, those names make as much sense as Marry Me, Fringed Jacket, I’ve Got the Blues, Cowboy Boots, Once Upon a Time, Dream I Can Fly, Cheerful Hue, Scrubland, or Knubby Wool, which are all real paint colors.

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