Color in Shades of Grey


When I was a little girl, we had a great big piece of furniture that sat in the center of one wall with the davenport, rocking chair, and Dad’s big recliner facing it: the black and white TV set. I had nothing but B&W TV until I was grown and had children, it was probably somewhere around the time I needed to replace mine and B&Ws were no longer made.

My sister, Deanna could see in color on our TV screen.

“I wonder why Loretta Young is wearing a red hat with that outfit.” she said. I looked up from You Were there on the Santa Fe Trail and squinted at the shades-of-grey picture.

“How do you know that’s red?” I asked her.

“It’s gotta be red. See, her coat is Navy Blue.” she rolled her eyes at me like she had the patience of Job. Loretta Young’s coat looked black to me, I went back to my book. Well, I had to admit, I could see a lot of color in my book, and that was all black and white, too, so maybe Deanna had the same skill, only with the TV.

When color TV first came out, the NBC peacock was at full-screen size and a deep bass voice declared: Brought to you in Living Color, and the peacock’s tail rippled in a wave of different shades of grey, still the show was in black and white. I suppose this got a lot of people buying color TV sets, but not my Mom and Dad, they had better things to spend money on, like shoes for everybody.

Dad’s friend-from-work invited the whole family over to watch Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color in Living Color; then I got to see what the NBC’s peacock’s tail looked like. Deanna said she couldn’t see any difference; that’s when I knew for sure that she could see shows on our B&W TV in color; she had some kind of super power that I only had when I was reading a book. I could see a whole rainbow on that color TV set, it was neat-o, keen-o.

I was a little comme-ci-comme-ςa about Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. First off, I wished he would stop talking so much about that big park he was building out in California, going on and on about how parents were gonna love it as much as the kids. I was never going there, it was hard enough going all the way up to Brimley State Park and waiting for the ferry to take us across the lake. California was half-way around the world. Secondly, I never knew what program Walt Disney was going to put on that week. Me and Bonita loved Davey Crockett and Swamp Fox, and the funny stories made up by some guy about what baby foxes or bears were thinking about when they were out rambling around in the woods. I hated Donald Duck and his whole family; I couldn’t stand all that slobbering they did when they talked. The worst was the witch in the mirror, the one from Sleeping Beauty; she was so scary, that I still don’t want to see her and I’m plenty old enough not to be afraid anymore.

Mrs. Dad’s friend-from-work made a whole bunch of what Mom called finger foods to eat and gave us pop to drink while we watched TV. I only got to eat popcorn in the frunch-room when I was at home, so all the little sandwiches and chocolate no-bake cookies made me a little nervous. I only got to have pop if special company was coming over and never in the frunch-room. I must be special company to Mr. and Mrs. Dad’s friend-from-work; I was on my best behavior, so as not to make them think otherwise. Those sandwiches smelled so delicious, then I got another look, no wonder they smelled so good: ham and little meatballs, and teensy-tiny weenies on toothpicks. It was Friday.

Mrs. Dad’s friend-from-work noticed I wasn’t eating anything, and asked me what was wrong. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, ’cause I could see she was really proud of all those finger foods, and she probably worked so hard making them, so I just stayed quiet. That’s when Mom stepped in.

“Why aren’t you eating anything? What’s wrong?” I didn’t want to tell her, ’cause it’s only a sin if you know it’s a sin and do it anyway, and Mom had one of those little weenies half gone on the toothpick she was holding; if she forgot, it wasn’t a sin. But then again, lying is a sin, too, so I had to tell the truth.

“It’s Friday.”

Mom put her little weenie back on her paper plate and got up close in my face. I wondered what was coming next, ’cause I could see, she was thinking about just what to say, so I could understand quick and not ask any questions, ’cause I was always asking follow-up questions, just ’cause I wanted to understand stuff, still it made her mad sometimes, and I was thinking this was one of those times it would make her mad, and she didn’t like getting mad in front of non-family people, so she might just use her whisper-firm voice that would let me know she was mad without any yelling.

“Sometimes it’s more important to be polite.” she said. I must have looked doubtful, ’cause then she said, “Go ahead, it’s okay, you can trust me. Besides, the 10 Commandments include obeying your mother.” She gave a smile, that was only half there, the kind that I knew would be all the way on her face once I did what she wanted. And she popped the other half of her little wienie right in her mouth like she was proving a point. From then on I had a new rule to think about: It’s more important to spare someone’s feeling than to obey Church Law, but God’s Law is different. God’s Law is where the important stuff is.

There sure are a lot of rules in life, sometimes it’s hard to keep track of them all. To tell the truth, sometimes I think 10 is enough, and when it comes down to it, maybe if we just focus on the two most important one:  Love God and Love your Neighbor, everything else will fall into place.

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