512 Words

Color Commentary

Lad Moore

It was the first new car Mary Kay and I could afford after six years of marriage, so we did our careful shopping.

There, on the lot, under the nighttime amber lights, was the prettiest silver Oldsmobile I ever saw. I couldn't wait for the next morning to find a salesman. I had to have that very car.

It didn't take long. "Mike" wore slicked-back hair and a three-piece suit, and had enough deal pads on his desk to put a new car in every garage in Texas.

He was quick to point out the options on the car, the features that were new to this year's model, and the changes in the warranty. That was important, but the silver color had already sold me. I told Mike about my earlier visit to the lot.

"That silver paint shined back at me like a fashion mirror," I said. "Under your lights, I knew that I had found the secret of the origin of pearls." I had carelessly tipped my hand to a waiting predator.

Mike noted my strong enthusiasm for it, and my lack of interest in the other cars on the lot. He began a pitch about the luminescence, the lifetime wax-free overcoat, and most of all, the newness of the color for the Oldsmobile line. It was poetically called Aztec Silver. Aztec Silver! The name spoke volumes. I closed my eyes and imagined the awe that would surround us at valet parking---maybe at the Ritz. We would arrive to shiny moonglow pavement---in tux and flowing gown with a decadent neckline. Mary Kay would step lightly onto the red carpet---her breasts looking like the filled sails of a brigantine.

We drove away in a cloud of happiness.

We moved to Oklahoma, and three years later, with a growing family in tow, decided to look up Mike again and trade for a new car. I was pleased to find him at his old desk, in a gray sharkskin suit with a red tie, and that ream of deal sheets at his side.

Mary Kay picked out a blue station wagon with enough room for us all, and Mike and I a got started with the haggling. Unlike before, absent were the motions of a Maestro schmoozing his debut. He was dealing on a station wagon, not a romantic coupe.

"I can allow you $1100 on your car," he said apologetically. I was shocked. My Olds was worth so much less than what I paid for it. It was still so bright and shiny! I had kept it waxed, kept it serviced, and it had low miles.

Mike leaned over close to my ear as if to share a secret or a for-men-only joke. "See, the trouble is, it's the color", he said. I was puzzled. I recalled his original pitch---and my glee over the Aztec Silver. I told him I didn't understand.

He leaned over again, this time closer---"You know," he said, "Nobody likes Coffin Gray."

Copyright ©2001 Lad Moore. All Rights Reserved.

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April, 2001
Issue #60

512 Words