in praise of consistent color stories: a birthday celebration for Scrumpy

Arrangement in Gray and White, No. 1: The Author's Pooch

Arrangement in Gray and White, No. 1: The Author's Pooch

In an ideal world each of us would enjoy a consistent color story every moment of the day: a palette of hues that coordinates everything (and I do mean everything), producing feelings of cosmic peace and emotional comfort. Yet, we who have been blessed with what I call chromatic hypersensitivity must contend, on an all-too-regular basis, with the jarring juxtaposition of other people’s color stories, or—the horror—their obliviousness to the existence of such succor to the challenges of daily life (we call these people, technically: hypochromes, or, commonly: people who wear beige).

Problem is, people will impose their own color choices on our hue-sensitive world. At work, I regularly see dozens of students who clearly have made no group effort to achieve a harmonious effect when they assemble before me in class. At home, I contend with thoughtless cookbook publishers who impose terrible choices of book-spine colors on my kitchen schema, not to mention a thoroughly unfortunate soda can design that goes with me everywhere and looks good nowhere. Granted, these items could be corrected with a little more industry on my part. But there are certain troubles one cannot so easily rectify as wrapping one’s home library in coordinating book covers, decanting one’s Diet Pepsi with Lime into a vessel that is not the color of chemically-generated lime flavor, or convincing one’s employer to adopt a policy that demands that all undergraduates don uniforms that match the paint on the lecture room walls. Easier to control, the selection of one’s spouse should be made very carefully to ensure chromatic concord (while avoiding matchy-match outfits, needless to say). One faces a greater challenge coordinating one’s children to, say, the sofa on which they spend so much time; but even this is not impossible for the dedicated parent. (If you struggle in this area, may I suggest directing this appeal to the child in question: “Poopsie-bunny, your stripes/tie-dye/sports team advertisement is/are giving mummy/daddy/your state-appointed guardian a migraine/apoplexy/blurred vision; perhaps if you could change into something more muted/dark/restrictive, I will find a wad of cash/pony/your father’s Lamborghini keys for you.”)

Although the people we live with can be a source of significant coloristic annoyance, it is not so for all creatures under the roof. Just as our four-legged companions are, sometimes, our most predictable and agreeable cohabitators, they can also serve the great goal of the truly harmonious color story—the dream of all tastefully civilized people. When my family was preparing to add a dog to our household earlier this year we considered many characteristics of different breeds, including temperament, activity level, maintenance demands and health expectations. These considerations, in light of our family situation, led us into contact with multiple rescue agencies for Pit Bulls and American Staffordshire Terriers, and ultimately to a love connection with our dog, Scrumpy.

Pictured above (and below), Scrumpy is a two-year-old, sixty-pound Blue Pit. She has white markings on her feet, chest and face, which stand out prominently against her silvery warm-gray fur. She is a beauty. She looks great on the carpet, by the furniture, with my wardrobe and in my car. I recognize that canine aesthetics are not prominent in most people’s adoption process (do I ever, when I witness some of our neighbors’ unfortunate matching of pet and house color–honestly, some of you need to keep that pooch in the back yard or paint the trim to keep the neighborhood from aesthetically going to the . . . never mind.). Some people select a guard dog that will actually rise from a recumbent position when danger (and not just the noise occasioned by living across the street from a grade school) is sensed. Some people choose an athletic dog that can run an agility course without knocking down the equipment. Some people opt for a smart dog that learns to fetch the paper and brew the coffee in the morning. Scrumpy is not one of those dogs. But she looks so, so pretty not doing all those things.

Not afraid to throw all her muscular weight behind proofs of her love, Scrumpy is as affectionate as she is striking. To celebrate Scrumpy’s aesthetic achievement, we will mark her birthday with a special menu featuring blackish and white dishes. So, even if my family shows up in chromatic disarray, the dog, and the table, will look great. Behold:

Birthday dinner for Scrumpy
What Scrumpy’s people will eat: Wild Mushroom & White Wine Risotto; Molten Chocolate Cake with Vanilla-Bean Ice Cream
What Scrumpy will eat: Canned Dog Chow on a bed of Last Night’s Basmati Rice; two Fiber-Formula Biscuits
What Scrumpy would rather eat: Loaf of Bread Stolen from the Kitchen Counter, Old Taco Found in a Gutter on Main Street, Dust-Bunny-Coated Oreo Excavated from under the Kitchen Stove, Cat Poo


Composition in Gray, White and Drool: Scrumpy and her Joie de Vivre


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