I’ve never gone through a blue period

After the nation had forgotten the cancer scares sparked by red dye number four and other colorings, red M&Ms returned to the pack of plain M&Ms. I remember thinking that it was the perfect new color; a bit brighter than the other colors without being obnoxious. Then in pre-internet days, the Mars company opened a phone hot line so people could vote for a new color to the pack in 1995. I was gunning for purple, but blue won. M&Ms were not Skittles; they did not need to be neon. To me, the new blue M&M stood out from the rest of the earth tones and fall colors to the point of clashing. Eventually, the tan M&M was eradicated from the regular pack, and I’m still a little sad about it.

It’s not that I actively dislike the color blue. I’ve always felt completely indifferent to the color, with one exception: my favorite Crayola crayon color has always Cerulean, a shade of blue that cars are painted on “The Price is Right.” I’ve recently learned that Crayola seems to have followed M&Ms’ lead; their 24 pack of crayons has four shades of blue and one brown. Sure, there are a lot of oranges, some decent purples, and reds and red violets, but none of them helped when I was coloring in a picture of Pioneer Square. My lack of brown options meant that I couldn’t duplicate the square’s redish-tan bricks. Normally, I’d have no problem coloring the bricks purple or something. But there was already a pink squid fighting a green Portlandia in the middle of the square, and I wanted a balance of absurdism with reality.

I bought the 24 pack on a whim a few months ago, and I’ve started coloring in books when I need to recenter and using crayons when I pretend like I can draw. I like the waxy feeling and look, and being able to control the intensity of the color. I bought a 64 pack, so I’d have a wider variety of earth tones. I recognized a few shades, like “Purple Mountain’s Majesty,” “Tickle Me Pink,” “Macaroni and Cheese,” and “Timberwolf” as winners of the naming contest Crayola had when I was in third grade. But then, the new shades only came in the Big Box of 96. But I was still more excited about the collection of tan, burnt sienna, raw sienna, etc. As I was working on a crudely drawn comic strip (that I may or may not post sometime), I found a color called “Cadet blue” that is the exact color of my eyes. I thought I was content with my crayon collection, until K10 got me a 150 pack that came in a plastic container and included glitter and metallic shades…I’m now officially slightly intimidated by my color options and may never have to use either of my built in sharpeners.

Color this, bitch.

She wanted to be a “pretty mom.” She wanted people to find out her kids were in kindergarten and second grade and say, “I can’t believe you’re old enough to have an eight-year-old.” Her skin was smooth and her hair healthy and she always wore sundresses with big straw hats. But not old lady at the beach type get-ups, more like the kind that say, “I read the fashion section of Vogue and Oprah for my casual summer ideas.”

For being as calm and reserved as she seemed to be, her kids were rowdy. But I did like her daughters. Whenever the three of them came to the restaurant I was working at, it was in the dead hours of the afternoon. The girls would come up to the counter, spin on the stools and tell me stories about monsters that turned people into pies. Talking to Izzie and Christa was considerably more entertaining than talking to my ghetto fashionista co-worker about shoes or colored jeans. Pretty mom liked to pretend Izzie and Christa’s stool spinning bothered her, but she’d simply passively tell them to come sit back down from the comfort of her booth.

One day, Pretty mom actually stopped at the counter on her way back from the bathroom to ask the girls to sit back down. I busted out my no-fail trick with children: I told Izzie that if she went and sat back down, I would bring her some crayons. Izzie’s eyes lit up. Pretty mom rolled hers and said, “Oh are you a baby?” Christa got really excited too and asked me, “Can I color too?!” Pretty mom said, “Oh I have two babies?” I said nothing, but thought, “OH lady, your kids are getting the big box of crayons.” When I brought the 24-pack of Crayolas to the table, Pretty mom said looked at the girls sheepishly and apologized for them. I looked at her and said, “Hey, I’m 23 and I still color.”

I watched the girls color. I thought about visiting family in Texas when I was in middle school, the trip when my sisters and I convinced our second cousins to get kids menus at restaurants and color with us. Every time I waited on Pretty mom after that, I brought out the crayons for Bella and Rosie. My mom didn’t teach me much about being pretty or dressing up, but she taught me a lot about coloring.

Note: I know the technical “big box” is the 64 pack, but the 24 pack in my possession was the big box compared to my other option of a seven pack of crayons.