I bought the cream paint for the dining room. I chose a color called Sea Salt, which is what most closely matched the color we have now: a totally inappropriately-named white called “Clear Yellow.” Clear Yellow! I ask you! I almost couldn’t choose it at the time, even though it was the one I wanted, because Clear Yellow sounds like….YELLOW.
But it is not. It is white. Well, cream. I kept asking the painter to reassure me: “It’s not yellow, right?” and he’d say, “No. It’s white. Well, cream.” And I’d say, “Because…it’s called yellow.” And he’d say, “I know. But it’s white. Well, cream.” But even so, the day he started painting I was antsy and had to go peek at it under the pretense of bringing over a few more boxes.
Anyway, Behr’s Sea Salt is pretty much the same color (Toasted Marshmallow was close, too, but it bothered me because TOASTED Marshmallow should be a light golden brown, not cream), so I went over to the paint counter and asked for a gallon of Sea Salt. The permed, forties-ish clerk mixed it up and put it in the shaker, and we all stood there waiting for it to be fully shaken. She started a conversation with her co-worker about how she thought Sarah Palin didn’t actually like John McCain.
Then the paint was ready, and she got to the part where they pry up the lid of the mixed paint to let you double-check it. She stopped mid-pry, gave it a whack with the mallet instead, and said wearily and I thought a little scornfully, “It’s pretty much just white.” And she gave a little half eye-roll, like I was some crazy person who was custom-ordering a specific shade of white like it mattered.
Clearly she has not found her calling. “Pretty much just white,” indeed! For a color called Sea Salt! That is such a GIMME. If I’d been feeling a little perkier and sassier and less distracted by the low-grade stressiness of the decision I’d just made, I would have said back to her, “Oh, no no no. That is not your line. Your line is: ‘Oh, Sea Salt! I LOVE Sea Salt! It’s such a clean, fresh, lineny white—but not too STARK, you know what I mean? Just the teeniest HINT of yellow to warm it up. It’s just the most perfect white. And the name makes me think of those photos where there’s the white sand and the bleached wood and the beautiful ocean and those tall faded grasses.'”
Depending on her reaction to being schooled, I could have continued: “See, then you lift up the lid to let me peek, and you give a happy little sigh. ‘See?,’ you say. ‘Perfect.’ You pause a moment too long, as if reluctant to stop gazing at it. Then you mallet the lid back down cheerfully [here I’d demonstrate cheerful malleting] and hand it to me and raise your eyebrows and say, ‘Good choice!’ and you put a firm little emphasis on each word, like you’re not usually impressed with a paint customer’s choice, but you’re impressed with mine. And as I walk away, you say to your co-worker in a voice just loud enough for me to hear, but as if you didn’t realize I could hear you, ‘I just love Sea Salt. It’s one of my total favorites.’ …I can write this down for you if you need to study it for next time.”
Seriously. A paint-counter employee! Saying something is “pretty much just white”! I felt like applying for her job on the spot. “Trust me, I could do this better,” I’d say to the manager, tying on an apron.