“I like that color,” said my wife, at the paint store. “Don’t you?”
“It’s brown,” I responded, rather indifferently.
“It’s more of a taupe, if you ask me.”
“Isn’t taupe really just brown?” I asked, puzzled.
Men have exactly 10 colors in our repertoire. We do allow for the fact that most colors offer varying shades of similar tones, but we don’t assign them their own names. That would be chaotic. Tan is brown. Burnt Sienna is brown. Brown is brown. Based on this, men have the ability to focus on more important things, like fantasy football and drinking scotch. Women, on the other hand, can identify 4,571 distinct shades of each color. My head hurts at the mere thought of having that responsibility.
I realized this as I was transitioning from childhood into early adulthood. Something heinous was afoot—a conspiracy between crayon manufacturers and young girls who wanted more coloring options.
I know that men weren’t involved in this desire for more colors because the names of these new‐fangled shades are too benign and innocent. Men would have given them more provocative names, like beer gold, 2 × 4 brown, dunked‐on orange, blood red, and snow blower gray.
When I was eight years old and needed crayons, my parents purchased the 8‐pack for me. In this pack were the standards: green, red, black, blue, brown, orange, yellow, and purple. Life was simple. Fast forward several years to when my daughter was eight years old. We got her a 120‐pack of crayons. Weird names like mango tango (which is really just orange), razzmatazz (which is really just red), and inchworm (which is really just green). There’s no reason to go further down this rabbit hole— though I’m certain there is a color called rabbit hole, which is really just brown.
I can just imagine a thousand little girls crying in school when their artwork is judged by teachers who have grown up using a million different shades of the same color. “That’s okay, little Suzy, but instead of using the banana mania crayon to color the sun, perhaps you should’ve used the mango tango one.”
Little Suzy responds with a sobbing whimper and vows never to buy a coloring book again.
So, how did we get here? I wish I knew. If I did, I would go back in time and correct this.
I knew that we, as a society, were off the rails a few years ago when I heard a couple engaging in a heated discussion in the paint section of Home Depot. They were arguing over different shades of white. Different shades of white!? He wanted white. She wanted egg‐shell white. I cried for our country that day.
The other night, I was in the car with my eleven‐year‐old daughter. A report on the radio mentioned a prominent clothing company releasing an obsidian women’s Hijab to wear while participating in athletics.
“What’s obsidian?” asked my daughter.
“I think it’s a volcanic rock.”
“Why would they wear a rock on their heads while running?”
“I think they are referring to the color of the Hijab in this case, which is black.”
“Why don’t they just call it black?” she asked me, annoyed.
I couldn’t answer her and that bothered me. However, I was glad that she was asking the question. There is hope for our future after all.