September 26th, 2021


Bright Ideas

Lenore Skenazy

By Lenore Skenazy

Published Oct. 13, 2019

Bright Ideas
"It's... bright."

This is about the closest thing to a compliment that the new shutters on my house and the new color of the front door have received.

Colorblindness runs in my family. I am not colorblind. I have what I believe to be a mild hue-blindness. The color wheel doesn't have as many options for me as it may for you. Where you see tiny squares of incremental differences, I see long rectangles of sameness. I once tried to use this fact as an excuse for my mediocre grade in a poetry class. My professor did not agree that this had any effect on my lackluster submissions — or my growing number of class absences.

Bright has often been used to describe my adornments.

Wow, that outfit is... bright.

Wow, that computer case is... bright.

Wow, those shutters are... bright.

A few days ago, a neighbor sent out a message on our community Facebook page that she will be going around and looking at design choices of homes up close. She said she likes what a number of folks have done recently to spruce up their homes and will be on our properties simply to get ideas for her own home. When I ran into this neighbor, I warned her about some of the lumber to the side of our driveway that we are using for our fence.

"Careful not to trip," I told her.

"Oh, don't worry. I won't be coming by your house. My taste isn't so... bright."

When I was 12, my family went to Florida to visit my dad's best friend from childhood. He has a daughter, Annie, who is a year older than I, and we opted to get away from the boring adult catch-up session and go to the mall with her friend. I can't remember how the day unfolded or who was driving us. I know we didn't have a car, because we wound up hitchhiking back to her house.

"Not bright, kid. Not bright!" my mom said, furious.

I didn't want to talk about my adventures in sticking my thumb up on the side of a highway in an unknown town with people I barely knew. What was the big deal anyway? I wanted to talk about my brush with fame. Earlier in the evening, though I can't recall how exactly, we had been given a ride into an exclusive neighborhood. After being checked in at the gate, we drove past the biggest mansions I'd ever seen and pulled in to the driveway of a house next to the brightest house imaginable. It was pink, if you lit pink on fire, with radioactive-green shutters. Colored spotlights shone up at the mansion, cascading the face of the home in orange circles, making it look like a case of the chickenpox. There were swirling yellows and aqua blue trims, and I couldn't look away. It was both tacky and magical.

"You like that house?" Annie's friend said as she got into the car. "Our next-door neighbor is Dan Marino."

I didn't know football, but I did have "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" memorized. This house was as close as I'd ever been to meeting someone famous. And it was especially great because it wasn't just a handshake on the street. I had a real glimpse into the life of a famous person. I was looking at his house. And man, was it... bright.

In retrospect, I don't believe that house belonged to Dan Marino. Annie's friend lied nonstop that day at the mall, about things she had done and people she partied with — her best lie perhaps being that hitchhiking home is totally safe and proves that one is cool.

The house has always stuck with me. That said, bright is not what I was going for when I opted to paint the shutters on my house and the front door. I was just trying to navigate away from dull. Our brick home had a black door and black shutters and just felt blah. I don't want to feel blah when I pull up to my home. I want my home to be a reflection of me. Now that it is, I'm finding that my personality is a tad hard on the eyes.

My dad has suggested I repaint. So have a couple of neighbors. We are sticking with the colors for now. If anyone asks about the crazy house at the end of the block, just say Dan Marino lives there.