Color My World

My husband and I were on our way home from visiting my brother and sister-in-law this weekend when I asked my husband if he had remembered the items my brother left for us on the dresser.

“Yes, I put them in the blue bag.”

“Blue bag?” I asked. “What blue bag?”

“You know. The bag we put our clothes in.”

“Do you mean the lavender bag?” I shook my head.

“Is that what you call that color?”

No, my husband is not colorblind. Not in the traditional sense of the word. But he is limited by his maleness to knowing only the simplest names of colors.

I know this narrow color vocabulary is not true of all men. However, I’m willing to bet it describes the majority. Things are either blue, green, red, yellow, brown, black, or white. How many times have you heard a man use the words mauve or teal? My husband  says he also knows gray.

Last weekend we finished painting our living room. If you ask me what color it is, I will tell you it is an extremely light shade of celadon or cucumber. My husband will tell you it’s green.

When we were at my brother’s, I had the pleasure of playing with my two-year-old grandnephew.  I asked him what color his pajamas were.

“Gween,” he said.

“What color is Grandpa’s shirt?”


“What color is Uncle George’s shirt?”


If I don’t intervene soon, this little guy will be as colorblind as his great uncle. But if I get to spend enough time with him, I expect this to be his response to my questions in a year:

“What color are your jammies?”

“They are Kelly green, Aunt Toosie (his name for me), with a touch of cyan. And Grandpa’s shirt is a lovely shade of citrine with cadmium overtones on the collar.”

I have a lot of work to do.

About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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22 Responses to Color My World

  1. Al says:

    The only other color word I ever use (other than the manly staples) is puce…..just because it sounds like a dirty word.

  2. judithhb says:

    But Susan, my partner The Architect, is fastidious when describing colours, particularly paint colours. No that isn’t half Thorndon Cream it’s a quarter Thorndon cream. Go figure.

  3. Dianna says:

    I agree— “Is that what you call that color?” sounds familiar. I think I’ve heard that from Motor Man more than once.

  4. pegoleg says:

    Good luck with that project. I suspect that the presence of testosterone may make it a losing battle.

  5. notquiteold says:

    I swear my husband has no gene that recognizes any shade of purple. “Sort of Blue” is the closest he gets.

  6. Wonderful! Being married to a color deficient person (yes, really, really color blind) is a pain in the you know what…. He cannot tell any pastel colors… thinks they all look like mud. So, many greens are out of our color spectrum. Picking out a color palette for our new home was a challenge, he had asked that he at least could see some of the colors. So, what did he pick out? Deep garnet…. yep…. but, I told him that I would find colors to match that and he’d have to live with it… You know the lilac I picked out for the master bedroom looks beautiful with it as does pale green, the pale blue, the muted yellow and the other pink and green also go well… He will only be able to see the color in the dining room and a couple of walls in the living room! Good luck with that nephew of yours!

  7. Mauve. My husband has no idea what I’m talking about when I say mauve. 😉

  8. Never send a man to get something by describing its colour. They will NEVER be able to find the item (or you’ll get something completely different from what you asked for). I wonder if ‘colour awareness’ is one of those early indicators that differentiates gay men from straight ones? Good post!

  9. Lynn says:

    So funny & so very true!

  10. dorannrule says:

    I love this one Susan! And I do believe you are right about men not seeing shades of gray. 🙂
    Maybe that is why Bill can be looking for something in front of his nose but still can’t see it.

  11. Cute story. Divided by a common language– happens all the time.

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