Friday, June 29, 2018

The Color Purple

 What comes to mind? 
A hillside covered in heather?
A famous book?
A poem by Jenny Joseph?
Purple cloths enshrouding statues at church during Lent? The good lord, his holy mother and all the saints hidden from view 'til Easter morning?
Royal robes?
African violets?
A certain notorious cartoon dinosaur?

When we lived in Belgium I had a good friend, from Bulgaria. Julia and I communicated in a mixture of her excellent, and my very bad, French, my good and her very bad English, lots of sign language and helpless laughter. We got together about once a month and went exploring in Brussels. One day we happened into a district where many of the store fronts had scantily clad ladies in the windows, not mannequins but the real thing, bathed in lurid blue light. Prostitutes, in a word. Prostitution is legal in Belgium. The conversation wandered down this path and Julia told me that, in her country, purple was the color of prostitution. On subsequent trips to town with Julia I was careful not to wear purple.

It's almost twenty years since we returned from Belgium. I have, unfortunately, lost touch with Julia, but I've never forgotten that little tidbit. Whenever I'm thinking of wearing anything purple I align it with this information in my head and wonder if wearing it means I'll be giving off wanton hussy vibes. My tastes in no other way run to wanton hussy. In my limited experience and understanding, wanton hussies would be the ladies teetering around in the six inch stilettoes and purple sequined gowns with high rise slits up the side and plunging necklines, revealing generous (or artificially enhanced) endowments and heavy cleavage; brassy blonde, bouffant hairdos, heavily mascared eyes, rouged cheeks, fire-engine red (or even purple) lipstick on their botoxed lips. 
I think I'm safe.
Besides,  I'm not living in Bulgaria, and why should I not wear purple since it is one of the colors that goes best with white hair?

Not that I'd ever wear real purple. I'd prefer one of its more muted relatives, lavender, for instance. Remember the movie "Ladies in Lavender?" Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, two of my favorite actresses, hardly harlots.

So this week I went shopping for a new suitcase, having donated my old, shabby black one with the wonky wheels to a charity shop after our last trip anywhere, just to force myself to buy a new one for the next trip which is next week. There were too many choices. Many I eliminated on sight as being too big, too small, too garish, too dull. I got it down to two but could not decide.  I asked the OC to come into the store and help me choose. He has a low to zero level of tolerance for wandering around stores. His preferred method of shopping involves sitting at his computer and clicking on 'submit.' Mission accomplished.
 As for me - I have to feel and touch. So it was at great personal sacrifice that he came in to assist me.

 I introduced him to the finalists. On the one hand a Samsonite, greyish, the right size, sturdy; on the other a Sharper Image, black, light-weight (a plus - who wants to lug a dead weight around an airport?) expandable (very attractive given my packing skills, or lack thereof) and black with unfortunate orange trim (I dislike orange.) The OC circled them, checked the wheels and pointed to the black-with-awful-orange-trim as it had 360 degree turning wheels. His work was done. His eyes had already started to glaze over as he wandered off, leaving me still dithering. With a distinct lack of enthusiasm, I choose the Sharper Image, black with awful orange trim, but easy maneuverability.
Glumly proceeding to check-out, I suddenly saw it! The one I instantly knew had my name on it, and - are you ready? It was purple! Well, maybe not exactly, more of an eggplant-y color, perfect size, similar wheels.
"What do you think of this one?" I asked the OC as he re-joined me.

"Why would you want that one?"

"It's a much nicer color, " I said wistfully, knowing full well my argument was weak.

" But you always put something colorful on the handle anyway". He was not as enchanted as I. 

Maybe it's a male thing. Dithering is frowned upon. Make a decision and stick with it.
 I should have dug in my heels. Instead,
I brought the wrong suitcase home. I put it on the floor by the bed where I could begin to gradually pack. It's only a suitcase, I thought. The world won't end. But still I didn't like it. I glared at it. I put nothing in it.

 You should've got the purple one, I told myself. How many more suitcases are you going to buy in this lifetime (especially after a recent birthday with multiple zeroes - one for each decade). It glared brazenly back, the ugly trim glowing orangely  - you're stuck with me now!

On the other hand 'it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind!' I don't know who said it but I like them already. This morning I exchanged black and orange for purple. Well, eggplant. It's sitting by the bed, smiling. Fill me up, it seems to be saying. Nothing harlotty about it.
 I think we're going to travel well together -
into the sunset.


Elephant's Child said...

I love your eggplant case. And Jenny Joseph's poem. And lavender. And lilac and violets and rather a lot of other things which are at least purplish. And I frequently carry bruises with me.
Enjoy your trip. You would have resented the black and orange case at every stage. Not zen at all.

Sabine said...

Excellent post and excellent choice!

My mother would discourage purple in clothing with a vengeance, as in "trashy". There was an often quoted saying "If all fails, I'll wear purple." which she claimed came straight from the mouth of an elderly prostitute.

As for the suitcase, it really helps to have a stand-out colour when you are waiting at the baggage claim with all the black and silver ones doing the rounds. So, well done!

Marigold Jam said...

As the French would say "I'll go to bed less stupid tonight"! I have a lovely purple pashmina and am surprised at how many things it goes with but now I am not so sure!! But surely nobody would mistake me for a wanton hussy? Though I do remember standing with my American friend on a pavement in Soho waiting four our respective husbands to come out of the restaurant where we had just eaten and a car pulling up at the kerb and asking us "How much?"!! I don't think either of us loooked like wanton hussys then either. Have a lovely hgoliday and enjoy your suitcase and don't whatever you do complain about anything to do with it to your OC!!! As always a brilliantly worded post I had to smile as I read it.

molly said...

EC - Thanks for the encouragement! Maybe it's time to start practicing some of Jenny Joseph's other recommendations?

Sabine - I wonder if that elderly prostitute was from Bulgaria?

Marigold - Funny story! And what did you reply? If I do develop a complaint about my choice I'll be sure to keep it to myself!

Wisewebwoman said...

I remember with fondness a lavender and pale green outfit I had. I always felt like a million $$ in it.

Your suitcase will be instantly recognizable. Always a good thing.


SmitoniusAndSonata said...

You have to get on with your suitcase since you'll be spending weeks together. There'd be no point trailing it about resentfully. It'd develop a squeak or something.

Ali Honey said...

Ha. I have one the same colour. Good choice.

Dee said...

Dear Molly, I so enjoyed this posting--the tongue-in-cheek mocking of yourself just tickled me because I often do the same thing with myself when making some decision that gets slippery! Eggplant is not only one of my favorite vegetable, but also one of my favorite colors. So I applaud your choice.

I'm sitting here right now, typing this comment, while wearing a purple sweat shirt. My favorite colors are red and purple and when I wear the two of them together I feel as if an abundance of good will and fortunate happenings are coming my way.

Have a wonderful trip and enjoy that suitcase! Peace.

sanpiseth40 said...
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Secret Agent Woman said...

That's funny, before I got to the end I saw the suitcase and thought, "well, that's not so much purple as aubergine."

I'm with you, for clothes I prefer lavender to full-on purple.

molly said...

WWW - Sounds like a lovely pairing of colors. And if it makes you feel like a million bucks, it doesn't matter what color you wear.

S&S - Good point!

Ali - Ha! I guess we just have good taste ….

Dee - If we haven't learned to laugh at ourselves by now we're in a sorry state...

SAW - Well, as far as I know, aubergine is just a European name for eggplant, no?

Pam said...

Oh, what good taste you have in not liking orange. I don't even allow orange flowers in my garden. I do allow purple ones, though they're not my favourites, but never wear purple, which does NOT go with rosy cheeks. However, your case looks very elegant.

Happy big birthday! And you can still do that yoga thing... very impressive.

gz said...


Ganching said...

You did the right thing!

Relatively Retiring said...

My mother always told me that I must never wear purple. I thought it was because i had red hair. NOW I know what she was talking about!

molly said...

R and R - Lovely to see you out and about! Did you not ask her "Why?" She might have had another interesting take on that daring and dangerous color!

Zhoen said...

I have loved purple since childhood, never wavered.

Have you heard Start Wearing Purple by Gogol Bordello, the gypsy punk band?

molly said...

Zhoen - No, but I will check it out!