As any wife/girlfriend can tell you, most men have absolutely no concept of colors, except in connection with a specific sports team.
Case in point: I was out walking the dog on a nice summer day and passed a house that had recently changed ownership. A young woman and her husband/boyfriend were in the driveway, and each was holding a set of window blinds. I overheard the woman emphatically [p.c. version of conversation] tell the man, “These are ivory, not white. I told you I needed white!”
When I started laughing, they both looked at me with daggers in their eyes, and I quickly walked away. But what I would like to have told them is that my husband and I had the exact same conversation just a few days before that.
I’ve come to the conclusion that men, unless they are artists or interior decorators, see only the basic colors: white, black, blue, red, green, yellow, etc. – they do not recognize shades of those colors: ivory, ebony, royal, cranberry, sage, honey, etc. [please, no comments about shades of gray]. And heaven forbid there be a combination of colors: plaid, marble, mosaic, woven, tweed, etc.
A former beau once gave me a beautifully wrapped Christmas present. When I opened it, I discovered the ugliest green/brown/orange plaid coat I had ever seen. I tried really hard to act enthusiastic, especially when the poor guy said proudly, “It’s green – it matches your eyes.” Apparently, I was no better an actress then than I am now – after a few minutes, he suggested that if I wanted, I could exchange it for a different color.
When I recently purchased my new bedroom furniture, my current hubby took some personal time off to accept delivery. Arriving home after work that evening, I found him dripping with sweat and near collapse, but with a cat-ate-the-canary look on his face. In his infinite wisdom (and apparent love for me), he had decided that since the room was empty of furniture prior to delivery, he would repaint the walls (which had last been painted 20 years ago). Sounds like a great idea, right?
The walls were originally turquoise, and the furniture and curtains were white. When I arrived home, I found the walls were now nearly white with just a whisper of turquoise – they actually looked pretty cool, almost like a custom paint job. But then hubby said, “I’ll apply the second coat later.”
Second coat? What color?
“White,” he said. For whatever reason, he thinks all walls in all rooms of all houses should be white.
I had to explain that painting that small room white and then putting white furniture in there would make it look like a hospital room, and I had been in far too many hospital rooms lately. Thank heavens, he saw my point and agreed to leave the walls with one coat of white and just a whisper of turquoise – even though he thought the walls looked “splotchy” (they looked fine to me – guess men and women differ in their concept of solid vs. splotchy).
I love it when my husband will ask me what I think of the clothes he has set out for work. He’ll hold up a pair of pants (let’s say brown) and a shirt (let’s say a blue/purple plaid), and black shoes, and say “These go together, right?”
(Yep, absolutely, honey – the women will be all over you … actually, they maybe will, since you’ll look so needy.)
Not that I’m a fashion queen, mind you. If anyone ever saw me out in the yard with Puppy Cody at 5:00 a.m., they would find me in mismatched sweats and decrepit sneakers, with my hair (well, at least as much hair as I have) going every which way.
But to get back to the battles between the sexes.
Go car shopping together – the man will be looking for power and safety, while the woman is likely to say something like, “I want that one – it’s pretty.” (I always look for power and safety, too, but pretty tends to win out. That’s how I wound up with that red car.)
When I bought my bedroom furniture, there was a couple looking at living room displays. The man picked out a couch that looked quite comfy (one of those things with beer can holders in the armrests). The wife immediately said, “But it’s the wrong color – it won’t match the room.” They were apparently purchasing items for the basement rec room (I guess now they’re called media rooms or something) – who really cares if the furniture matches in a room only the family is likely to see? In this case, the man acquiesced – I never did learn what they ultimately chose, and I can only hope it was both comfy and color appropriate.
I could go on forever about the male/female dichotomy. Let me just end with this:
Men – Never buy your spouse/girlfriend a piece of clothing. Even if you miraculously get the color right, chances are the size will be wrong. Or even if the size is right, you will insult her because you bought a “medium” that fits instead of the “small” that makes her feel better about herself – or, if you bought the small you thought would make her feel better, she’ll complain that you wasted your money and her time because she’ll have to take the darn thing back. There’s no winning this one, guys – stick with jewelry, you can never go wrong with that!
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Images by: Brittney Bush Bollay, and Victor Hertz, and Michael Cory, and Chelsea Flowers, respectively