Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A bit of pink history (warning: excessive unedited rambling ahead)


"When colors were first introduced to the nursery in the early part of the 20th century, pink was considered the more masculine hue, a pastel version of red. Blue, with its intimations of the Virgin Mary, constancy and faithfulness, was thought to be dainty. Why or when that switched is not clear, but as late as the 1930s a significant percentage of adults in one national survey held to that split."*

When I was in my twenties and having terrible migraines due to stress, I went to a psychologist who was obsessed with getting me to wear pink. How this would help my migraines was (and still is) beyond me. In spite of the fact that his office was but 20 minutes from New York City, then the capital of the all-black wearing world, this bit of style news had not reached Dr. I-forget-his-name. Besides his ridiculous assertion that my choice of wearing all black was an indicator of a morbid state of mind, I only remember a few things about this man, whom I saw once a week for a year. He hardly spoke, and spent a little too much time making distracting sucking noises and scrunching up his face. I just tried to make the same sound I remember, but wasn't able to do so. It sounded like he was trying to extract something stuck between his teeth. The strange movements of his mouth indicated to me that he may have been also trying to find that bit of something with his tongue. That, I can imitate, and the act of doing so makes me think of him. Seriously, I would have preferred he use a toothpick or excuse himself for a moment to go floss. But I suspect that there was nothing stuck between the good doctor's teeth. It was just a habitual act, and one I would imagine annoyed more than one patient.

Most of the sessions I had started with at least fifteen minutes of silence. He didn't believe in starting a conversation, even with the smallest of talk, such as "How are you?" No. He was most assuredly a tabula rasa kind of shrink. I knew nothing about him besides his propensity to make sucking sounds and the probable search for foreign objects in his mouth. He always wore a sharp looking suit and combed his jet black hair straight back, giving him more the look of a gangster than a psychologist. Maybe he led a double life. It never occurred to me until now, but I'd venture to guess he did not, and that I only suspect so because I watch the TV show Criminal Minds, which may lead me to believe any one of us is a potential serial killer.

For one year, I sat in near silence with this man. Finally, I decided to call it quits and he said, "Now you're ready to begin therapy. Would you like to start coming twice a week?" I had to laugh, for I then realized he was pretty much quoting the last line of Portnoy's Complaint. My answer to him was a definate "No thank you."

Besides his annoying sucking sounds, he really irked me with his pink-wearing prodding. I finally caved in and showed up one day wearing a dusty pink suit. I remember he thought this was some kind of breakthrough, though I'm thinking that was the day I started thinking I was wasting a good deal of money paying this silly man to badger me with gender stereotypes while I still continued to suffer from killer migraines. The suit did nothing to help my headache. It was ugly, unflattering, and a terribly dull, too pale shade of pink, a color which I've come to enjoy quite a bit, and not in the least because I've embraced my girly-girl side. There are pinks that are quite strong. It can be an intense color, unlike the insipid light pastels that grace many a baby girl's bedroom walls.

It's quite funny, thinking back, that I decided this fellow was completely useless as a therapist when I realized he couldn't see that my pink suit was just ugly. I have a vague recollection that I considered it a test of some sort. If he just approved of my ability to comply and nothing more, then I considered him a failure of a therapist. I had such odd notions about aesthetics; in truth they were terribly snotty and elitist. A person who couldn't judge the difference between shades of pink or see that I had intentionally worn something atrocious was not someone I could trust. I shouldn't have trusted him after the first fifty minutes of teeth sucking, but I was pretty insecure at the time, in spite of my snobbery.

I really was a jerk when I was young. I certainly can be a bore now, but I hope, at least, that I can recognize it when I am. Then, I did not, or when I did, I rather enjoyed myself. That kind of behavior is the behavior of the truly insecure, and I'm sometimes surprised to see it in people who are over thirty years of age. Snotty posturing is okay when you're in college or younger, but afterwards, well, one should really see a (good) shrink if you're still acting out of such insecurity.

I've seen quite a few terrible mental health professionals in my life, sad to say. At the age of fifteen, I was forced to see a therapist and this man gave me some of the craziest advice you can imagine. If it was today, he could be sued for telling a teenager what he did, which was "Go out and get laid. Smoke some pot like everyone else." Huh? Thankfully, he did not suggest I do this with him. And thankfully, if he had, I probably would have slapped him across the face. Yes, I've been known to do this, though it's been over ten years since the last time I've had the need. The last time, I felt awfully bad about it. I knocked the poor guy's glasses off, and that seemed far worse than a little slap for being a pig.

Please note that I'm not advocating hitting people. Diplomacy is the best option, but I think there must be something primal and old-fashioned in me that overrides my normal judgment when confronted with digusting commments made by men. And I fully admit to having a double standard. Women have made inappropriate lewd comments and such to me, and none of them got slapped. Maybe that's because they aren't as much of a physical threat. That's the only thing I can think of. Well, these days this stuff doesn't happen any more, so I don't have to torture myself thinking about it.

Phew. This is what came out of thinking about the color pink?

Here's a good place to stop and take a break. A cup of tea perhaps? The subject is about to change, not once, but twice. Two breaks may be in order. Or you can come back. One needn't read an entire entry in one sitting. You wouldn't eat an entire pie at once, would you? If you said, "oh sure I would!", then proceed. . .

Since I'm babbling and rambling, I might as well tell you about some of my day. I won a Christmas gift basket, which included a 22 pound turkey and all the food needed to cook up a feast for a family of six. I had forgotten I had bought a raffle ticket on Election Day. When I answered the phone and heard it was the woman from the Town Office, I thought, "Uh oh." I do owe some taxes. But no, I won the raffle. Now, I don't need a big turkey, but I suppose I could have used the rest of the groceries. I asked the woman if she knew of any families that were really in need that might be better recipients. She seemed surprised that I wasn't all excited about winning. I was surprised that I won something, no doubt, but it didn't seem right to accept it as there was a high probability that some family with children would appreciate it more than I. So, I asked her to please give it to someone else. I have to admit (do I really?) that I would have liked to personally deliver it, but that's really a selfish desire on my part. It doesn't take all that much largesse to give away an unexpected raffle prize. I do hope that it makes someone's holiday a little nicer.

On the perfume front, I discovered that I really miss having some Serge Lutens' Bois de Vanille. It's such a soothing scent, even if it smells pretty much like cotton candy (though I try to convince myself it's "a sophisticated cotton candy"). I keep thinking there must be a cheap-o perfume that smells like this, but I haven't found one. When I discovered that indeed there wasn't a drop left of the stuff, I decided to re-try Louve, and once again was taken with how truly ordinary this scent is. It's opening is overly sweet, even painfully so. Every time I've tried it, I recoil to the point of not being able to tell you (or understand myself) what in the world I am smelling. It's screams at me to close down my senses. What's truly strange is that less than a half an hour later it's so banal a scent that I don't even notice it. To me, it smells like talcum powder for tweens, a truly drug store perfume smell that I still can't identify. A hint of candied cherries? Oddly, I neither like or dislike it. That is the definition of banal, I suppose.

So, I crave the smell of sweet vanilla and turn once again to Hanae Mori's Butterfly, a truly unsubtle scent. But it satisfies my craving. It's like getting Edy's when I really want Haagen Daz iced cream. Or maybe not. I'm probably just trying too hard. And come to think of it, I keep dismissing the Hanae Mori scent, for no reason that I can think of. Maybe I still am a bit of a snotty elitist. No, the Hanae Mori is not as good as the Lutens' Vanille, but the Lutens Louve is a fairly wretched, pointless scent and I'm not constantly writing about how lousy it is. Poor me. I'm so positive that a Lutens is good, while something I can get at Macy's can't possibly be, that I am missing the fact that I've been enjoying Butterfly over and over again. I must give this some thought.

Well, my dear reader, if you've made it this far, you deserve some sort of award. For what, I'm not entirely sure. There were other things I meant to write about today, but it's been another weird day that feels like it's been a week long. So, I'll save whatever else I have to write for another time. Maybe next time, I'll be more terse. Lately, that's been almost impossible. I will end this entry here. Abruptly. There's no conclusion, for this entry is one big mess. I could delete it with one keystroke, but I won't. This big mess is rather like my life at the moment. Well. No wonder that's what I'm writing!

I just realized that the impetus for this entry was never even mentioned. I should have a good laugh at my expense. I stumbled upon a fun little thing called Instant Flowers, an on-line tool to create pretty somewhat cartoonish bouquets. It's quite a bit of fun. Unfortunately, their save-to-blog feature doesn't seen to work. I suggest giving it a try. It's a sweet, nice diversion.

Painting note: Henri Matisse Woman in Pink 1923 On my laptop screen, she looks like she's wearing coral. What do you see?

*I had read about this years ago, but don't remember the source. This quote is from Peggy Orenstein's New York Times article "What's Wrong With Cinderella?"

3 comments:

Buddha said...

Well, anybody that is going to a shrink ought to have his head examined!
There is some scientific data about how colors affect the human psyche.
Advertisers use it a lot; green and red are good for food ads and what not, but by the time I finished your post I lost my train of thoughts.
You should really consider editing your writing.

jmcleod76 said...

Yeah, totally orange, here, though I'm on my cheaper computer with the lousy monitor ...

And I disagree with the above poster. Editing is for books and newspapers. No need on blogs. I'm just happy you're back after a couple of days.

Julie H. Rose said...

Jaime, I didn't post for only ONE day!

Buddha: If Shakyamuni Buddha came by my house and said, "Julie, consider some editing", I'd take that advice quite seriously. Or maybe I'd give him a playful kick in the shins.

I did give your suggestion some thought. After all, I often tease myself for my lengthy and tangential writing. And sometimes, I don't post, or delete entry after entry, because I'm all over the map.

So, at first, I thought I should try harder to be terse and stick to the topic, whatever it may be.

But then, would this blog be an honest offering? I think not. I'm opening myself up, just as I am.

You wrote "by the time I finished your post I lost MY train of thoughts." Emphasis mine, of course.

My train makes many stops, gets derailed, or winds up on the wrong track. Passengers may be unhappy, for they find themselves arriving at an unknown destination. Or they may get impatient, for the journey is just too darned long.

Though I admire and appreciate terseness in others and stand in awe, at times, at those who can say in one sentence what it takes me three paragraphs to figure out, this is me, unfiltered.

I'd have to agree with Jaime, even though a part of me says "Work harder. Edit, you silly woman!"

Take it or leave it. Or take what you like and leave the rest.

I think of Proust's "In Search of Lost Time." Though comparing myself to him borders on insanity, I know I've felt like throwing his book sacross a room at times. Marcel, please get to the point! But the point is being right there with him, in all his tangential and detailed glory.