One flew over the closing sale

Basement13I’d spent about a week driving by a small family business strewn with going out of business banners before I finally found time to pull over and check out what might be valuable with my wife. It was a paint store with a thirty-four year history in the community and there were a few regulars circled around the owners sharing a few well remembered stories as we walked in the door. The shelves by this time were an odd patchwork of bits and pieces including paint cans, masks, can openers, and how-to booklets with a few random trash cans thrown in between. Even the shelves and cardholders were for sale as I perused the scattered inventory of a once thriving business. A few months before, my wife and I decided we wanted an art space in our basement to create in after changing the drab vanilla walls for inspiration. Like most basements, ours was somewhere between a medieval torture chamber and a backstreet in downtown Bangkok. The high creepy factor led us to just store some boxes down there, but we were ready for a push when we started running out of room for our projects. I love to paint, and Deb makes jewelry, so we always seemed to be moving something from the dinner table or guest room, before moving it back again. It was time for a permanent home for these projects. We had spent several painful weekends sealing the crumbling walls with dry-lock, and wanted to add a little color before the winter snows set in. Now with 50% off on paint at the closing sale, we looked through hundreds of color cards hooked on round binding rings before settling on the attractive sounding “Cactus Green.” Deb and I lived in Arizona for a number of years, and our love of the desert flora made it a romantic as well as a commemorative choice for our new workspace. We patiently waited, slipping in among the old hands as they mixed it up before heading home. I made sure the paint can went directly to the center of the basement floor knowing full well I would rush downstairs the next day, brush in hand, ready to attack the new available canvas. I willed myself some extra energy before leaving the office, then carefully changed clothes before slaving away for an hour or two in the basement completing two bright and shiny panels before collapsing. I wiped my hands on an old rag, took off my safety glasses, then yelled for Deb to come down and admire my handiwork before earning some well deserved praise.

“It looks like the bathroom walls in the Salem Mental Institution,” she said, her face twisted into an anguished look of disgust, instilling my instant rage.

“What are you talking about,” I screamed, “this is CACTUS Green, not Institutional Green! One Flew Over the Coo Coos Nest was filmed in Salem, and this is not Salem. Take a few steps back and take another look,” I insisted.

“Yep, still makes me want to go to the bathroom.”

I shook my head and distracted myself sorting through a few sketches piled on some nearby shelves to dispense my anger. The pisser green comment stuck in my head though, and it was a few minutes later I decided to settle the matter by taking a photo of one wall and see how it looked on my phone screen upstairs.

Turns out it was pisser green. God damn it. I was the victim of a sales pitch that started in some board room at paint headquarters. I saw it in my head; sales were down on classic colors from the 1960’s, so just rename them with hip, Feng Sui color names to evoke certain images in the buyer. Like the desert? Cactus Green. I felt a bit stupid, but hey, it was half price!

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