Maybe it’s a little odd, my having an eccentrically complex relationship with that simple secondary color. Not that I dislike it; the fabulousness of a flaming sunset at the end of the day is hard to argue, and a spectacular orange koi is a worthy showstopper. Lots of things I really admire, even crave, are orange in fact. After all, the orange fruit and all of its showy tangerine and kumquat cousins are pretty, cheery, and refreshingly delish.
But orange still has some slightly off-putting associations for me that keep it as a color generally restrained from entering my go-to list of favorites. The aforementioned fruit might even share in the blame. I’m sure I’m not the first kid in history that thought oranges and mandarins exceedingly tasty except for those pesky un-chewable and indigestible segment membranes. But I may have been in the minority when my solution to that problem was to bypass them, not by spitting empty membranes out indecorously or rudely refusing to eat the food proffered by my kindly parents, but by squirreling them away in my cheek and not swallowing them. Clearly it can’t have been a particularly delicious solution, since the least desirable part of the treat was what remained the longest, but apparently I was too prim and simplistic to have thought the whole procedure through. Further, how I intended to cope with the skeletal remains in the long term if I wasn’t gutsy enough to just spit and throw them away I cannot quite imagine, but clearly the extended timeline was an abstraction beyond the scope of a person of my then so limited life-experience. All I can say is that the experiment was short-lived. When I arrived home after a whole morning’s outing and, on being parentally interrogated about my assumedly pleasant adventures, remained mum, a quick investigation revealed the impacted concretion of orange-leavings jammed up like snus by my gums. I was given a quick course on the proper technique for eating a whole orange section, which to my dismay involved actual swallowing and digestion of the part I didn’t much like. Ah, well, I managed to overcome my disappointment and learn to love the fruit in a slightly more grown-up fashion after that.
Though we are taught at a reasonably young age to watch out for those mercilessly careening yellow and orange cars that make up the majority of the (somewhat heedlessly) speedy American taxi fleet, I’ve certainly never been directly menaced by one–and there are times when there’s no more welcome sight that one hustling to my rescue when it’s wanted. Still, l have moments when the color, seen just peripherally on the move, gives me an instinctive urge to throw myself headlong into a safe ditch or behind a brick building. It might at least prove highly entertaining to those nearby, but it makes me just a bit more paranoid than it ought to when I’m on a city sidewalk.
Another youthful experience that may have colored my feelings about the color orange involved my initial foray into fashion. The first time my parents let me choose my very own garment, the object of my affection was an orange coat. Not just any orange coat, mind you, but a pint-sized, short-length, fake fur trenchcoat-styled warmer in brilliant Safety Orange. You know the color: they make road cones that color to keep you from driving your pickup truck into the sinkhole that just swallowed Highway 2. The warning tape quarantining an anthrax zone is that color. Deadly toadstools warn off marauding fauna with that color. And I chose a coat that was not only that color, but loudly and proudly so in plush fake fur. I must assume that it is the clearest possible confirmation of my parents’ unswerving and unconditional love of their offspring that they not only allowed me to have the coat but to wear it and be seen with them in public. Though children can reasonably be said to look cute in pretty much any old thing they do or do not wear, I think it’s also fair to say that no color has yet been invented that was less likely to flatter my skin tones, let alone give me the air of sophistication I imagine I was expecting from the thing.
That, however, is just what is so odd about my orangey-astic feelings. I felt myself a modern and cosmopolitan woman of distinction in that coat. My adult recoil at picturing the silliness of it in no way matches the love that I remember having for that ridiculously orange fur blob of a coat. No sight is more pleasing than that of a friendly orange taxicab pulling up to the curb at my command. My irritation at eating something with the flavor and consistency of strapping tape in no way diminishes my craving at certain times for a luscious juicy segment of a perfectly simple ripe Navel orange.
I’m complicated that way.