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Living in Color

Before I start talking about the color of cars, let me say a couple of things. First, I love dark greens and deep blues and bright reds and radiant yellows. And I am intrigued by juicy orange looking things and fuchsia. I really like purple and pink and brown and turquoise and just about every color there is. Oh… and teal blue. That’s a cool color, too. I just felt the need to throw that out there.

Second, I have never seen a silver car. I had a car once that was described as silver on the sales slip, but it was gray. And I’ve seen thousands of cars and trucks that are said to be silver, but they are also gray. I have a couple silver dollars sitting on a shelf in the other room and the silver cars and trucks look nothing like they do. Polishing gray does not make it silver. It just makes them shiny gray.

And third, who was the putz who defined the colors that are supposedly Earth-tone? From what I have seen, the cars that are described as Earth-tone colors are grayish-blue, grayish-green, tannish-brown, muted black, pukey looking muted yellow and tarnished orange. I’ve probably missed a couple, but the point is that they are all muted and almost colorless. Muted, tarnished and grayish are the three best words to describe what is considered by smart people to be “Earth-tone.” You want to know the ironic part? If you take the time to look around our planet, just about the only things that are those muddy looking muted Earth-tone colors are cars. It turns out that “Earth-tone” is a particular style of colors, but they look nothing like most of the Earth.

Grass is a soft, darkish green color. Its color is part of what tells the world that it’s alive. I don’t see any grassy green cars, but I see a lot of grassy green Earth. Most trees are deep, dark green. My father once owned a Pontiac Catalina that was a dark emerald green. It was beautiful and looked like a dark forest, but would not have fallen into the current version of Earth-tone. When I look at my back door I can see brilliantly colored bougainvillea filled with pink and purple and red flowers. I don’t see any of those cars in the Earth-tone category. In the early summer dandelions fill the northern lawns and they are nearly impossible to get rid of. They don’t last all that long, but when they are in bloom the Earth-tone is bright yellow. A long time ago I had a VW Bug that was dandelion yellow, but nobody called it Earth-tone. I’ve lived near the Caribbean Sea that is so magnificent that it radiates the color of a breathtaking aqua blue that I have never seen on a car. Over half of Earth is covered in water. It would seem like Caribbean Blue should be considered Earth-tone.

So, now that I’ve warmed up just a bit, let’s get this conversation where it’s headed. I stayed at a hotel a couple months ago and when I walked to my balcony and looked down at the cars, it hit me that we seem to be removing color from our lives. In the parking lot below there were fifteen cars. There were eight white ones, four black ones, two grayish ones and a blue one. Well done, Mr. Blue! Since then it keeps bugging me when I drive around and see almost no bright colored vehicles on the road. Most of them are black, white or gray. (The gray ones think they are silver). When I came home tonight I walked past a row of eleven cars. There were three white ones, five black ones, two gray and one that was so dark blue that it looked black. I scratched my head and tried to not believe that we are being duped into literally removing the almost magical colors from our daily lives.

Thinking back to not all that long ago I can hear the song, Little Red Corvette and I can see in my mind’s eye a 1967 Corvette with chrome rims. Those rims looked silver.

My first car was a Baby Blue Rambler. It was stunning. And like I already mentioned, we once owned a bright yellow VW Bug. Shortly before that one we owned a bright red Fiat Sports car. And if you are too young to remember them, you should Google VW microbus from the 1960’s. They were red and orange and neon green and sky blue and those are just the colors that came from the factory. Owners of the VW buses often covered them with peace signs and psychedelic stickers once they started cruising around in them. FYI… most of those colors were what hippies considered to be Earth-tone, and hippies actually spent time with Mother Earth. Red pickups were a dime a dozen not all that long ago. There were a lot of blue and gold Trans Am’s on the road back in the 1970’s and they had a giant firebird decal on the hood. Can you imagine having a bright blue car with a giant bird decal on the hood? Back in the 1950’s and early 1960’s it wasn’t the least bit unusual to see cars and trucks with flames painted on their hoods and along the fenders. Color. Color. And more color. Everyone was alive back then. Most people, especially the younger generation, wanted to proclaim that they were alive in everything they did. Even through the cars they drove.

I don’t really understand what has made us turn away from colors that excite our minds and souls, but I think whatever it is we should run from it. Perhaps the extremes of the world have become so extreme these days that we are hiding in some sort of safe, colorless place. My recommended cure for that kind of thinking is to go out and buy a car that is as red as a field of poppies or aqua blue, like the Caribbean Sea. Drive a minivan and paint a giant yellow peace sign on the hood. If you’re feeling really bold, have flames painted on the fenders of your Volvo or a giant firebird sticker put on the hood of your Mercedes.

Live a little. Life is too short to live without color in it.

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