"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words. " ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Burnt Sienna

ACCUSTOMED, CEREMONIOUS

Here I am sitting atop my first car, a 1979 Dodge Omni that I purchased while in grad school. It was a stupid little car, probably not very safe, though trustworthy enough. It really didn't have any special qualities to recommend it, but one thing that I grew to appreciate was the paint job--that goofy two-tone, bronze on the top brown on the bottom, that Dodge used for several years on some of its models.

A few weeks after getting the car, I happened to see the terrific movie Heartburn, starring the ever eloquent Meryl Streep and that old coot Jack Nicholson. In an early scene from the happier days, they discuss interior design, color schemes, and childhood crayon choices with some friends. Here's the same passage as it appears in the book (hilarious reading). When asked about the color taupe, Arthur shakes his head:

"I've always been terrible at colors," he said. "It comes from having grown up with the single-row box of crayons instead of the big box. If I'd had the big box, I would now know taupe and cerise and ecru. Instead, all I know is burnt sienna. And what good does it do me? Never once have I heard anything described as burnt sienna. Never once have I heard anyone say, 'Follow that burnt sienna car.'"

"I think there's a column in this," said Mark (135).


Of course, anyone who ever colored anything knows that a box of 8 crayons would never include burnt sienna. In order to get that color, you would need a box of at least 16, maybe even 24! Still, I found the conversation amusing and right then and there decided to be the woman in the burnt sienna Omni. I figured it was a fairly accurate description since the brown and the bronze averaged together might have produced something along the lines of burnt sienna. So that's how I answered anyone who asked about my new car, what I wrote on insurance forms and parking permits that requested the color of the car. It was a fun little private joke while it lasted. I was proud to drive a car that embodied the droll humor of Heartburn, and if you had ever wanted to track me down, you could have been the one to say, "Follow that burnt sienna car."

Yes, I had that car (and now I have the column)!

I still owned the Omni when I met Gerry, but I don't think it was the dual-toned burnt sienna that won him over . . . no, it was my irresistible bread pudding recipe, taken straight from the pages of Nora Ephron's novel. She refers to it as "caramelized mush" (133). Yummy!

Try watching Heartburn if you've never seen it (dated but not hopelessly). The theme song, "Coming Around Again" by Carly Simon is lovely. If you have an hour, read the book. It will make you laugh. You'll find Rachel's recipe for Potatoes Anna easier than you might think and absolutely delicious!

1 comment:

  1. In Summer 2014, my mother writes: "This reminds me of when I was seven years old (1938) and my father bought me what was probably a special promotion issue box of Six Crayola Colors. No black, no brown, and I don't remember the other dropped color -- but one of the six included was 'Burnt Sienna' -- a new name to me, and I never forgot it! For years I watched for its reappearance but didn't see it again until you little kids got a box of at least 24, maybe bigger (probably 1964 or so).

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