A couple of months ago, a leaking pipe wreaked a little havoc in one corner of my living room. Happily, the management company took care of it promptly and re-plastered everything, but the workman assigned to the job explained that he would be unable to match the original paint color. Apparently, he was only authorized to use “Navajo White.”
Although I was reasonably sure I still had some of the original paint buried in my garage somewhere, I wondered if perhaps it might be time for a change. As I sat contemplating the future of “Navajo Corner,” visions of a new, hipper color scheme began to dance around in my brain. I had recently seen a spread on celebrity homes and did notice that many of them had chosen bright, vivid shades to adorn their walls. I wondered if I should follow suit -- because celebrities (as we all know) are right about everything.
One of my neighbors had recently repainted his place using some big, dramatic color choices. But my neighbor is a designer whose home is very spare, metallic and elegant -- Sort of like the waiting room of a space station. My home is a bit more on the cozy side. Having come from a Southern background, I have lots of mementos and knick-knacks (or as my late grandmother used to call them “what-me-nots”). I had, over the years, taken lots of ribbing from my best friend, Tom, who once referred to my sense of interior design as “early Loretta Lynn.” I didn’t care. I liked my cheery yellows, minty greens and baby blues. But maybe Tom was right. Maybe I had fallen off the style train.
I decided to strike out for Home Depot and see if perhaps I could broaden my stodgy color palette just a little. As I drove along Sunset, however, I flashed back on a couple bad decisions I’d made in the past. The first was when, as a rebellious teenager, I’d demanded to paint my bedroom entirely black. My mother, fearful this would lead to worshiping Satan, initially refused. But after several screaming fights, a compromise was reached that would allow me to paint my room “half black.” Clever kid that I was, I hauled out the masking tape and created a jagged line horizontally across the middle of each wall. I then painted the upper half black, while leaving the lower half white. Although the original idea had been to create sort of a lightning bolt effect, the resulting pattern looked more like a set of big scary teeth. At first I loved it, until I started having nightmares that I was being eaten alive by a giant Jack O’Lantern.
The next fiasco happened just a few years back, when on a whim, I’d opted to paint my home office a vibrant shade of orange. The choice felt daring and reckless. I was certain “Vivid Tangerine” would energize the room and stir my creative juices. But before I was even half finished, I began to have doubts. The aging carpet (which I couldn’t afford to replace) was sort of a grayish-blue and the place began to remind me of a Howard Johnson’s motel room I’d once stayed in. Unwilling to admit my mistake, I soldiered on. I even managed to live with it for an entire year before finally conceding that it was a disaster. Sitting at my desk, surrounded by “Vivid Tangerine” day after day, had done nothing but make me feel sleepy (and strangely thirsty for “Sunny D.”)
Now, standing in the paint chip aisle, I felt intimidated, not only by the vast spectrum of colors before me, but also by their sexy, exotic names. Who knew such shades as Sublime Saddlebury or Dunmore Mist even existed? Did happiness lie with walls painted Cobalt Canyon, Tradewind Teal or Gothic Moonrise? Grabbing a vibrant cross-section of chips, I raced back home where I held them up, one by one, in the afternoon light gracing “Navajo Corner.” I hated them all.
And that’s when something occurred to me. I’m not a hip person. Why was I trying to act like one? If one’s home is one’s castle, I guess would make me the King (or perhaps the Queen). And royalty answers to no one (not even those bitches from HGTV). If a paint color (or anything else in your life) has kept you happy for the last eight years, why change it? Tomorrow, I would dig that rusting paint can out of the garage, put on the soundtrack to “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and get busy. I might even ask my friend Tom to come help me, but he hates it when I sing along to “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man.”
Copyright 2009 Quitcher-Bitchyn Entertainment, Inc.
David Dean Bottrell is an actor (“Boston Legal”) and screenwriter (“Kingdom Come”) who writes a weekly blog about being strangely middle-class in Hollywood at http://www.partsandlabor.tv/