Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How do you spell greay?

The dictionaries I have consulted say that both gray and grey are correct in describing the tone that lies between black and white. Irritated control freak friends have told me that I misspell it. It is only grEy when it is a surname... such as with Earl Grey the tea guy. I happen to know some Grays, but I tend to just nod at control freaks. For me the spellings are both colors, but they are different colors.

My friend Matt, who is a musician, thinks I hate music. He expressed it thus- "For someone who hates music, you know a lot of lyrics." I believe he got this impression from the way I do not like music playing when I am trying to have a conversation with someone, do not like it at the level of a sonic boom and feel trapped at entertainment venues where I am compelled to sit and just listen to organized noise. Well, that's what it is. Even worse if the organized noise is meant to be fathomed amidst disorganized noise, such as in a bar. I won't exaggerate and say that Matt wants music playing all the time, but it's a lot. I'm not sure he knows this but he sometimes hums in the middle of sentences. (Yes, you DO.) It's vital to him for both expression and cognition and I believe he finds it surprising, and maybe disgruntling, that it can be less vital to others.

We are revealed in human reflections and rejections. One of the things I have come to hypothesize whilst reflecting against Matt, is that people must have not only different levels of reaction to any sensate stimuli, but varying preferences as to type. And I have come to realize that I react in exactly the same way to color and its arrangement that Matt does to music. When I want to relax I look at pictures, or scenery, or shop displays. Fabric. I may not hum while we're talking but am likely to sort my M-m-Ms and create a daisy or something. When expressing myself it is most often with shade and hue, whether it was choosing the palette for theatrical costumes or arranging clothing towers at the store. I revel most in visual symphonies.

This realization has caused me to be less appalled when others cannot tell the difference between tangerine and orange. Peach and apricot. (NO! Not crimson! Cherry!) Bermuda? Are we talking Bermuda water or sky? If I have paid attention I can match colors without taking a sample with me, the way some musicians have perfect pitch. (No. That navy is too green. It's approaching Shaker.)

In the case of grey/gray, I even imagine the nuances in spelling. Gray is the color between grey (which is a perfect blend of white and black) and taupe. It is muddied with just a little bit of brown. A grey day is crisp. A gray day is gloomy. My hair, in totality, is actually gray... but it includes a lot of greys so I embrace that.

And hey, it's not only significant to me in spelling. There's pronunciation. This conversation was shared over the Lexington Costume Co. phone line around 10 years ago.

Caller: Do you have any fancy colored tuxedos?

Me: If you call mauve lame' fancy. (pronounced "mowve")

Caller: Mowve? What color is that? Do you mean mawve?

Me: No. I mean mowve. And so do you.

Caller: (click)

For the confused, mauve is a grEyish lavendar-rose.

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