Flirting Inside the Box

Why, oh WHY do I answer the phone? I suppose it's because someday you might call. But today it was my friend K. (not her real initial), telephoning to give me advice I didn't ask for.

"Hi," K. said."I love your blog, except there's a problem with it: you spend too much time talking about relationships. You sound like a flibbertigibbet."

"I do?"

"Yes, and it's a shame, because you're a serious, committed painter. You need to share more about your artistic process."

"I'll think about it," I said. "Maybe next week, when I'll have more time."

"You need to begin right now. Take the phone with you into your studio and talk to me about what you're doing."

"Okay." I sauntered into my studio, put the phone on a worktable, and switched the phone to speaker mode. "I'm now in my studio. As you know, I usually use water-soluble oil paint because I can no longer tolerate the fumes from traditional oils unless I have really good ventilation. But today the weather is so nice, I have the windows open, and I awoke gripped by a desire to paint with traditional oils, like I used to in my wild youth."

"Good," she said. "Continue."

"Now I'm opening the metal box housing my traditional oils." I sighed and clasped my hands to my heart. "There they are, forty-two tubes of paint." I giggled. "Oddly enough, forty-two is the exact number of men I ..." I clapped my hands over my mouth. "Oh whoops, I almost slipped back into talking like a flibbertigibbet."

"Yup," she said. "You did. But you stopped just in time."

"Okay, back to my serious oil painting session. Now I'm looking inside the box, studying each of tube of individual paint. There they are, all the big players from my early life as a painter." I sat on a folding chair, leaned my elbow on the table, and removed a tube from the box. "PRUSSIAN BLUE. He was a military type, not my usual kind, but opposites attract. His emotional range was rigid but exciting. When I was around him, I marched to a monochrome beat. PRUSSIAN BLUE takes forever to dry, and I mean forever. I still have some paintings done with PRUSSIAN BLUE which are tender to the touch...I think that means he's still carrying a secret torch for me, which is why I keep him in a fireproof box."

I picked up another tube."CADMIUM YELLOW. He was a cad (duh) and an outlaw. The only reason I even have this paint is because he was given to me by an elderly oil painter whose mind was crumbling. Possibly her time with cadmium and her crumbling mind were connected. I'll bet it was worth it, though...that woman loved miscreant types. Alas, the tube is empty, so I'll never know."

I returned both tubes to the box and leaned over to survey the rest."BRIGHT RED. There is no such thing as BRIGHT RED. BRIGHT RED is clearly a fake name, and I never trusted BRIGHT RED enough to use him." I cleared my throat. "PERMANENT GREEN LIGHT. Our relationship was more friendship than passion, but sometimes a lack of passion is allowable if a relationship holds up in other respects. For example, PERMANENT GREEN LIGHT was always there for me in ways FLAKE WHITE never was."

Looking closer into the box I gasped. "Omigod. I think ULTRAMARINE VIOLET is having a fling with ALIZARIN CRIMSON...they're stuck together like mating houseflies. But at least those two are still with me, even though they're cheaters, unlike ROSE MADDER, who's gone missing...a fact which doesn't surprise me, since ROSE MADDER is known to be a fugitive color."

My friend interrupted me. "Okay, you can stop now."

"Why? I'm just getting started."

"You're incorrigible," she said.

"Yes," I said,"and I plan to stay that way."