Blame it on the 70’s. Not knowing any better, I embraced the worst that decade had offer, the big bug-like eyeglasses, the even bigger hair (thank you, Farrah) and a wardrobe of flammable polyester. I grew up watching sitcoms where the ranch houses (and my own house) were done up in the trinity of requisite shades: avocado, harvest gold and pumpkin orange. I’d put all that behind me, or so I thought, until I realized my favorite color came straight out of the Mike and Carol Brady decorating play book.
It started out innocently enough. An orange sweater (chosen by the only boyfriend I’ve ever had with any fashion sense) garnered me a compliment, and then another, then another. I realized whenever I wore the color orange I would get positive feedback. I started to wear more orange. Pavlov would be proud. Years passed. I was drawn to orange things but wouldn’t admit the attraction.When asked my favorite color (which my children did ask with alarming frequency – they knew I wasn’t telling the truth), I would still reply blue or green or something respectable. Then I turned 50, and I realized life was too short to not own up to my passions and that orange is, indeed, my favorite color.
Why? Well, it makes me feel happy. According to color psychologists (yes, this is a field) orange is “optimistic, sociable and extroverted. ” Me too! At least once a week. Others opine that orange is warm and happy. It offers a clear alternative to its neighbors on the color wheel. Face it, yellow is intense and red is aggressive. Apparently orange stimulates the appetite (which may be a reason to wear it rather than decorate with it). It is attributed with healing properties. Orange is celebrated in the robes of Buddhist monks, as a sign of Autumn, a symbol of Protestants and of the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine. Less popular connotations include an infamous herbicide, Agent Orange, and infamous homophobe, Anita Bryant.
In Alice Walker’s Beloved, the character Baby Suggs takes to her bed at the end of her long life “to think about the colors of things…because she never had time to see, let alone enjoy it before.” After a lifetime of struggle she spends the rest of her days contemplating her quilt. She only speaks to make a request for color. “‘Bring me a little lavender in, if you got any. Pink, if you don’t . . .It took her a long time to finish with blue, then yellow, then green. She was well into pink when she died.”
I am committing myself to contemplating orange this year, although I won’t be taking to bed for it. I’ve started by painting my kitchen. My friend Jan, an architect whose color instincts are always right, assured me orange would work with cherry cabinets and blinding white counter tops. It does, though it took several trips to the paint store after weeks of poring over color chips before I hit the jackpot with something called Kumquat. Wow. It is gorgeous. I keep walking into the kitchen to turn on the lights just to take a look. The more I look, the happier I feel. That’s orange for you. Definitely the new black. Now if I could just figure out why I can’t stop snacking.
What color makes you feel good?