08 February 2010

different names for the same thing

I once had an AIM username, "tintmegrey."

I have a penchant for the European spelling of "gray," not because I am so in love with the culture and British accents and tea with the queen, but because I am one of those people who are only good at English due to my ability to recognize what "looks right" or "sounds right." Comparing my elementary public school education to one of my friends' elementary private school education, I find that she has legitimately learned proper grammar rules while I take what seems to be wild guesses...and yet we are still somehow at the same level.

But back to my point. Along with this "looks right" habit I developed came color-associated learning. I would even like to name it synesthesia (read The Beautiful Miscellaneous if you want a good fiction book on it), except it's not prevalent enough to be called that. I somewhat connect colors to letters in certain contexts.

Take 'gray' and 'grey,' for example. When I read the word 'gray,' even as I am typing it, I see a word that is grey, yes, except with a slightly red hue. When I read the word 'grey,' however, I see what is my favorite shade of grey--a more neutral, slightly green-based color. The warm shade of grey, in my eyes, is not truly the grey I think of when I think of grey (tongue twister), and thus I am much more inclined to use the spelling 'grey,' rather than 'gray.'

There's actually a fairly large chance this has to do with how the letter 'e' fills up more space than the letter 'a' (when I write it, at least). I'm not sure, but it's a thought.

So why would I care so much about the spelling? Well, it happens that grey is my favorite color. I hesitate to say this to people I've just met; it's one of the worst ice-breaker answers you can give ("What's your favorite color?" "Grey." "Oh...mine's yellow."), always presenting the first impression that you are a boring soul with no friends. I'm always asked, "Why grey? Why not something more, um, colorful?" and explaining why I love it so much is more than difficult.

A person's favorite color can tell you a lot about them, but when that color is grey, things become cloudy. I agree. It's a strange color...but that's why I'm so attracted to it. First of all, and probably the simplest way to say it; grey can contain shades of any color. You can have a very pale, light grey (predominately white) or a dark grey (less white). But in between these colors are endless variations of grey; if you have Photoshop or any image editing program, you know. When you use the colors tool (eyedropper, whatever) to select the exact hue you want, if you run your mouse along the grey area, there is a clear distinction between red-greys, blue-greys, yellow-greys, and so on. It's the most versatile color, being able to adopt both colorless and colorful traits!

And how can we forget the beautiful, metallic silver? The ultimate industrial color, no? The laptop I'm typing away on is silver. The desktop computer five feet away from me is silver. Our television set is silver, our DVD player is silver, our keys are silver, our phones are silver-plated, this and that and this and that are all silver. It is the everywhere, it is aesthetically pleasing, and when one cannot decide between white or black, what does he/she choose? The agreeable, one-fit-for-all silver.

Admittedly, this can say a lot about me. But I'm not really inclined to expand on myself right now, especially using a color metaphor (I may save that for college, ha ha ha...), so I'll let you assume what you want. But of course, you'll never be completely right...because grey is never completely one thing.

Hehe :)

Back to my main point. I once had an AIM username, "tintmegrey." I used it for maybe a year or two (back when I still had instant messaging I could never stick to one username for long, so this is pretty impressive), never really thinking about how the spelling might confuse other people.

One day, I'm minding my own business when someone named "tintmegray" shoots me an instant message, and playfully jabs at me, claiming that "you stole my username!" I figured out pretty quickly who it was, and the person gave me access to the account in case I ever wanted to use it, and then told me something that still cracks me up.

"By the way," my friend said, "when I created the account and signed in for the first time, about six people messaged me and asked why I was never online and that this was the first time they've ever talked to me! So...you should probably tell them that that wasn't you."

For two years, I had friends trying to contact me on the wrong account...all because of a silly spelling. Maybe not funny to you, but absolutely hilarious to me because most people knew how anal I was about how I specifically spelled things, especially that one word.

Since then I've lightened up, but...good times. :D

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