The Color of Love? It Ain’t Chalk Green

Published 11:35 am Thursday, February 4, 2016


When my wife and I bought our house 26 years ago, it was green. It was green, inside and out. Outside was the exact same shade of chalky green on the siding, on the trim, on the shutters, on the bricks. On the inside, that same green was on the walls, ceilings, trim, even in the closets. It was a one-story, ranch-style, 1950ish chalky green house in the middle of a peach orchard in the Carolina foothills. As a young couple with a two-year-old child and another on the way, we had found our home.

After 26 years and several coats of paint of every imaginable color, the house is still in the middle of a peach orchard, the kids are grown and gone, and, despite my efforts, if you look closely in all the wrong the places, you’ll still see that chalky green reminder of lost love gone astray. I have purposely left the ceiling in my closet that original color as a reminder of what not to do when my wife asks something of me.

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The first few years of living in the house and repainting everything, my wife and I often wondered what could have caused a homeowner to paint every square inch of a house inside and out the same color… and why such an ugly color. Was chalk green ever in vogue, like robin egg blue of the ’50s or harvest yellow of the late ’60s? It was beyond strange to us, and we knew there had to be a reason. As we got to know our neighbors, we began to find out…

According to local legend (or gossip), the house was originally owned by a member of a local prominent family whose name will not be used here to protect the innocent—and just in case the whole legend thing is a crock.

It is said that during the couple’s marriage, the wife had asked the husband to paint the house green. But for whatever reason, he refused. When I hear this story, I get the feeling it was a marital bone of contention. As experienced husbands and wives, we all know how some small, simple, and innocent request from our significant other can cause us to dig in our heels, stand our ground, and just shut down. Just because he/she said so, the other says no… no way, no how, just no plain and simple for no other reason than to exert some misguided measure of his/her authority.

If you don’t relate to this common game of marital tit for tat, either you haven’t been married very long or you both won the $100,000,000 grand prize in the marriage lottery. It seems that the wife made her appeal repeatedly, only to be refused again and again.

Then she died. I don’t know if she died young or old, or how, but she died, leaving her stubborn husband alone in a house she had always wanted to be green. In the wake of his grief (and/or guilt), the husband painted the house green, inside and out, and to the extreme that we found it in 26 years ago.

Until a neighbor told me this story, my wife and I just thought some crazy previous homeowner had an infatuation with chalk green and gone overboard with it. Little did we know that this was the color of denied love and guilt — the same color as wintergreen Tums. Talk about heartburn.

Today, our house is some shade of light blue/gray with a hint of green with dark blue/gray shutters — just what my wife wanted. She also wanted and got an orange front door. Whenever my wife gets the itch to paint something, I am always consulted and agree with whatever she wants.

Experience has taught me to understand and accept that my opinion is not really being sought, but rather to give her a point from which not to go. To some people, choosing the color of your house is a creative, time-consuming, and expensive task of getting exactly what you want.

For some of us, it’s just fresh paint, covering up past sins.