Monday, November 28, 2011

The Blue and The Gray

The other night, as my parents were transfixed by "Wheel of Fortune", I remarked that one of the contestants had chosen his on-camera attire pretty wisely. He was wearing a pink dress shirt with a plain, pink silk tie. Pink actually looks great on camera, if it's not too bright and as long as it's flattering to the person who's wearing it. I also liked the tone-on-tone effect with the tie.

For our TV appearances in high school, the Academic Team was cautioned in advance to avoid loud colors, black, or stark white, as these would wash us out under the lights. Somewhat predictably, the boys both turned out in blue Oxford-cloth shirts. I, on the other hand, had a pink one. The other girl, who did not appear on camera, wore a cream-colored blouse with a brown marled sweater vest- I remember this somewhat because she recently left the judicial bench, where she naturally wore black with a white collar every day that she was in court.

The proscription of black sort of threw me, since as much of my wardrobe as I could possibly sneak past my mother at the time was, of course, black. The pink turned out to be a great choice, though, as the photo taken of the team that day (after we unexpectedly won, somewhat because I was a teenage operamane) is the best picture of me ever made. Professionally, these days, I'm also in possession of a set of academic regalia that makes me look like a giant crow accented with the blue and white of my alma mater and the bright, acid yellow of my degree, library science. Music's hood is pink...

Hopkins was, of course, one of the two boys present and sporting the ubiquitous blue Oxford on TV that day. That shade of blue was about as good as it ever got- much like a stove, the temperatures on which are basically 'hot' and 'off', his wardrobe consisted of two colors: blue and gray, punctuated by the infrequent white polo shirt here and there. When I say it was blue or gray, I mean it; there is a particular gray knitted necktie that has burned itself into memory. Even dress shirts of dark plaid were combinations of various dark colors, but usually there was some small bit of grey somewhere in the matrix. I often joke that if there was a mashed potato blight, my current boyfriend would starve to death; if the world ceased to produce gray clothing, Hopkins (at least when we were kids) would go naked.

Not, you see, that this was unflattering. Back in the day, he was a raven-wing brunette with dark eyes- gray was flattering...but it was also incessant. It was defining. It was...strangely appropriate. I think the difference between us was that black can be extremely angry, and I was frequently propelled forward by a controlled, concentrated anger. He might've been a little gray raincloud, but I was a pitch-black thunderhead. (In retrospect, maybe my mother's insistence on blue was as much about giving me an outward appearance of calm as it was about flattering the color of my eyes.)

If he gets called to interview at the college, I am willing to bet that the suit would likely be somewhere between the color of an elephant and soft pencil lead. I won't be there. I can't, and it's probably just as well- my color-changing eyes take on an eerie resemblance to a timberwolf's around that much gray.

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