The other day I wore a peach colored shirt. It was quite a departure from my usual black, gray, and every shade in between (dark gray). I got a big reaction from my co-workers. My favorite was, “You look fantastic—I hardly recognized you!” Translation: “This doesn’t look anything like your usual horrid.”
One of the reasons I like mourning colors, or the Shadow Shades, as I prefer to call them, is because they make matching outfits a breeze. I’ve neither the attention span nor skill to determine if a red blouse goes with turquoise capris and pink rhinestone sandals. Gray goes with black, done. Now I can move on to troweling a layer of foundation under my eyes and pulling stray gray hairs, which, by the way, match my outfit.
My preference for dark colors has nothing to do with an aversion to vivid shades. I don’t shade my eyes like a vampire at the sight of a bright color like beige, although I once hid behind a napkin when my husband wore a Hawaiian shirt. It’s just that on me, bright colors feel like a costume, perhaps because they don’t match my personality. You might say I’m not very bright and if you do, you’d have a lot of company.
To me, red, pink, and yellow are for women who update their Facebook accounts during brunch, women with great haircuts and lots of accessories, women who greet each other with high-pitched noises and have a ton to catch up on, women with sorority sisters and favorite places to get salad (dressing on the side). Whenever I try to be bubbly I nearly pop. I’m winded after “Good morning!!” By the fifth, “That’s fantastic!” I’m covered in flop sweat. As a matter of fact, I carry smelling salts in my purse in case I experience extreme bubbliness—it’s right next to my talcum powder. Note: just how old am I with these references?
Although I’m not prepared to leave the dark side, I don’t want folks to think I’m a Gloomy Gus, Debbie Downer, or Harriet Hackneyed Phrases. Luckily, there’s an easy, lazy, inexpensive way to seem chipper: exclamation marks. There are days I text more than I speak, which is both sad and ... well, it’s just sad. But the great part is that if I want to appear bubbly: ! If I want to convey effervescent: !! And for over-the-top calm-down-before-I-pull-a-muscle: !!! A friend uses exclamation marks in nearly every text she sends, no matter the content. “I’m in Target getting foot ointment!” My friend, Rick, who has done a lot of acting, said one exclamation point ! = raising your voice; !! = shouting; and !!!!!!! = being on the PA system at Yankee Stadium. It makes me wonder how my recent texts would sound if I said them aloud.
Me: “Hi! It’s me! Ugh, I’ve had such a bad day!! It’s def a two beer day, LOL!” [laughing loudly]
Husband: “Kids, call the nut house—this isn’t a rehearsal.”
Rick knows a guy “who works entirely in lower-case. What’s up with that? Is he whispering? Is he keeping everything on the DL? Who does this guy think he is, e.e cummings?” Maybe, like me, Rick’s e.e. cummings friend is pretending to be something he’s not. He could, in reality, be loud and obnoxious. As a matter of fact, I’m going to reply to Rick using a different punctuation mark, one that can pretend impassioned inquisitiveness: “Why do you think he does that???” Even better, I can combine enthusiasm and curiosity by announcing this Yankee Stadium text: “Why do you think he does that???!!!!”
Let’s see how that sounds read aloud ... oh dear, where’s my smelling salts ... .
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