Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Crayola, the Religion


Since becoming a pirate, i've realized how evil crayons are. They ruined my life when i was 9 because someone put a green one in the pocket of their pants and it ended up in the dryer with my yellow gingham dress. The "dust" from crayons is waxy (a hazard to books and clothing) and have you tried getting it off the wall? I know, Magic Eraser. But still, i have usually preferred a set of washable markers for my kids to make trouble with.
Well, Wade spied a renegade box of 64 that i had hidden on the top shelf of the library. He isn't the first to have noticed it, just the first lost boy tall enough and nervy enough to get it down without asking. So after the lecture on how sacred the "Box of 64 crayons with a sharpener" was, i resigned a ream of paper and myself to however long it would take to decimate that many crayons.
I'm surprised. Maybe my kids are old enough to understand the doctrine of this ancient sect. Maybe they are more civilized than i've given them credit for. It's been 3 days and only 2 crayons have been broken (they've been taped) and only one is lost. This is no thanks to Landon, who has ripped the flip-top lid off twice (taped and re-taped) Why. Won't. This. Darn. Lid. Come. Off!? and drawn in one school library book (grrr). I'm pretty sure he's also responsible for the 3 or 4 tips broken off in the sharpener.
These last 3 days have opened a page in the book of my childhood. I had forgotten how good it feels to draw a rainbow. And the good feeling it is to see all the crayons lined up in the box after having them scattered all over the table and floor. My life was defined by those 64 colors. There was a time, I'm sure that i could have named them all and shown you which was which. Actually, i was pretty surprised this morning when i tried to list them and exhausted myself at 43. I can't think of any more. The pack of 64 didn't include the 8 from the fluorescent pack did it(Hot-Pink and Ultra-Violet~remember those)?
Stop reading right now if you want to test your own color-name memory. I won't name all 43, just a few. First, you have the rainbow, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, then you have the combos: green-yellow and yellow-green. Weren't those two mixed up? I would've named them the opposite way. then you have black and white and gray and the browns: burnt umber, raw umber, raw sienna and my fave, burnt sienna. Whatever umber and sienna were, i didn't care, just the thought of raw color and how you could burn it mystified me. Silver and Gold, which, on paper were very disappointing. Then you had cadet blue and brick red and olive green and maize and cornflower blue and midnight blue and periwinkle and carnation pink and salmon and magenta (was that one of those "hot" colors?). Oooh, and wasn't there an Indian Red? Why isn't that as controversial as when Peach was called "skin color" or "flesh" or something equally as alarming?
Crayola defined color for everyone. We all knew what forest green was or plum, but when "Mauve" became the vogue, it was always a fight, because there was no crayon. Was it like this lavender or like this dusty plum? Is it dark or light? is it more red or more purple? Well, problem solved. Crayola now has a color named Mauvelous. I don't know. Maybe they are a little late on the mauve question. Maybe they are a little late on anything but the original 64 since we have gone all artsy with color naming. I mean, what is Turkish Towel, anyway? Hint: it's the color my bedroom used to be. A little taupe, a little mauve, kinda tannish, with a pink tint. Still I think it would be fun to name colors for Sherwin Williams or OPI. You know what color of nail polish "I'm Not Really a Waitress" is. "Catherine the Grape" or "Yucatan if You Want" or "Cozu-Melted in the Sun" or "You're a Pisa Work" or "Louvre Me Louvre Me Not" maybe aren't as obvious. Still I wish I'd named them. Who do they hire to sit around all day thinking of color names/plays on words?
Shhh! Don't tell my kids. In one of the dusty tins on my shelf , i have a "collector's pack" of 8 of the original Crayola colors. Never-been-used. Virgins. I admit, some of the new Crayola flavors have good names: dandelion, macaroni and cheese, timberwolf, cerulean. I'm glad we have color and I grateful for the ever expanding palette de colour and for fun names. It makes me feel happy. And okay, I guess I'm grateful for crayons, too.

10 comments:

Melissa Price said...

Love it!

Goob's Mom said...

Oh, I love the burnt sienna color. For some reason I figured they were all named after trees maybe cause they're all brown?? My other two favs were cornflower blue and macaroni and cheese.

. said...

You write so beautifully!

Vicky said...

I really love how you write, Rin. This was really fabulous.

Tawnie said...

So cute. so insightful. Thanks for sharing. I am addicted to buying crayons then I get a huge bucketful of broken, old crayons, eventually throw it away and start all over. There's nothing like a new box of crayons!

bonnie jack said...

i know, right? i want to name colors. how do you get a job like that? i'd probably draw a total blank on the first day of the job.

also, i thought green-yellow and yellow-green were backwards-named, but i think about them a lot now, and how the first color was the adjective and the second was the (noun? color being modified by the adjective). so they are grammatically correct, even if intuitively weird.

James and Monica said...

only you can make crayons sound so beautiful that I want to go buy me a box. I'm more of a colored pencil gal.

Lorinda said...

i just recently thought of the adjective/noun thing, too, but a kid would put the bigger color first.
i love colored pencils, too. bytheway, and i gave my kids way too much credit for taking care of them. In going through them, i realized they had combined the 64 with a box of 24 that they got for Christmas and there was even one (gasp!) Roseart crayon in there.

Melissa Price said...

Roseart is of the dev......seriously, how can you get away with that product? ;)

June said...

This is a delightful post! I love the progression of thought, I have noticed lately that the colors were weirdly named, but I never paid attention to that when I was a kid. I think--with four little brothers. maybe the paper never stayed on the crayons very long. Ask your dad.