December 1, 2006
This year I’m giving a gift to the future: I’m taking all those catalogs that fill up my mailbox and taking them straight to the recycle bin. And I’m doing it for my own health, too. I get plenty of exercise carrying three-hundred pounds of slick paper across the yard, and if I take them inside I won’t order most of that crap, and it’ll just make me hungry because everything, from clothes to carpentry equipment, is described with food. Here’s a memo to the people who write the catalogs: those pants aren’t chocolate, they’re brown, those shoes aren’t cherry, they’re red, and that sweater isn’t mustard–it’s yellow. That umbrella isn’t orange it’s…er, well, it’s more of a tangerine, really. It’s confusing enough that socks come in jet, ebony, and slate, which looks like black, black, and gray to me, but when they come in kiwi I have no idea what color that’s supposed to be. Maybe it’s that bright green of the inside of the kiwi that’s really more of a chartreuse, or maybe puce. Or maybe it’s not puce, maybe it’s pusillanimous. Okay, I admit I have no clue what "pusillanimous" means, so let’s not get pugilistic about it. Maybe when something’s color is "kiwi" it’s light brown with little tiny hairs all over it.
Don’t get me wrong–I love kiwi, but someone else has to prepare it for me. I just can’t bring myself to eat a fruit that I have to shave first. But I digress. The same socks also come in apricot, rambutan, and mulberry. Mulberry? What the heck is a mulberry? I wouldn’t know a mulberry if one came up and bit me, and for all I know that’s possible. If I get bitten by a mulberry do I have to get a shot? I don’t know if I should wear them or eat them. I do know this much about mulberry: it’s a few shades lighter than aubergine, and aubergine is an eggplant that got a really good agent. But what kind of eggplant? Is it one of those long, stringy Japanese eggplants? Maybe it’s one of those white eggplants. Well, technically they’re not white: they’re vanilla, cream, eggshell, or ecru. Maybe it’s those purple and white eggplants, making it even harder to decide what tie to wear. At least it would be a problem if I wore ties. Or maybe it’s the big, traditional eggplants you use for eggplant parmesan–the ones that are so dark they’re almost black, and when they’re baked in eggplant parmesan they’re black and white and red. There’s a new twist on an old joke: the next time someone asks you what’s black, white, and red all over, say, "Eggplant parmesan." But I digress. Then there’s cobalt, which you can’t eat, and that’s probably just as well because only chemists really know what color cobalt is. Usually it’s blue, but I think cobalt can also be pink. Why call a strong, dark blue "cobalt", anyway? Why not call it "roentgenium", since not even chemists know what color roentgenium is? It could be blue. It could be paisely for all I know. Either way, roentgenium sounds strong and powerful and bold. roentgenium: that’s a color that’ll put hair on your chest. And roentgenium will take hair off your chest and anything else it gets close to, but at least it’ll never be pink like that turncoat cobalt. Think about how embarrassing it would be to buy some cobalt swimming trunks for a guy and find out when they arrive that they’re pink. A guy has to be really strong and secure to wear pink to the pool or the beach. He has to be a manly man, a man’s man, mano a mano, a man among men, a man who would be king, a man who could, to be blunt, shave his own kiwis.