The Walls Are Screaming!

So then… she hugs me close, exclaims, “I had a great time seeing you!” — steps back to look at me — then looks up, down, left, right and declares, “You know, all your walls are white – don’t you find that bland and… well… just kinda blah?”
Then without waiting for a response, she snaps her roller bag, zips down my front steps, and heads to the airport to return up North.
I stare after my sister, vexed that she’s managed to fire a stinger on her way out, without me having a witty and withering reply at the ready.
And what’s worse is that she didn’t seem like she was intent on inflicting pain. She genuinely seemed like she just noticed this deficiency and felt compelled to share it with me.
I’ve been living happily in my lovely house in a nice LA suburb for many years and not once did I notice that the walls were all white. That’s just the way the house came when we bought it brand new and it never really occurred to me to notice it — much less change it.
I close the door thoughtfully and glance around. This is fine. This is just fine. The wall color is perfect for our floors and furniture. Who cares if every room is white?
I go about my day and my night and the next few weeks – and all I can think about is… “Oh my God, I am suffocating in this white house! It is too much white! It is institutional and boring and completely devoid of creativity or freedom or air. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. The white paint is CHOKING ME!!!!!”
And now I am really mad at my sister, because I had been living here peacefully and content for years, focused on villas near hoskote important things like family, health, social life – and now I am obsessed. As each day passes, I am puzzled how I could have lived any kind of meaningful existence in a two-story house where EVERY bedroom, bathroom, living space, and closet is painted white. Every room I walk into taunts me with its uniform bleakness, whispering, “Paint me, paint me.”
She makes one off-handed comment and I am tormented.
It reminds me of a recent business trip.
I’m in a small town motel room, working on the presentation, when my colleague Jared stops by to give me a binder of reports. We sit at the little table in the room, talk about tomorrow’s meeting, then he says, “What’s that weird clicking noise?”
We’re silent for a moment and now I hear it – a distinct “click… click-click… click… click-click.” It appears to be emanating from the heater/ac unit under the window.
Then Jared says, “Well, OK. Good night then.” And he leaves!
Leaves me there with that weird clicking noise! I call the front desk but there are no other rooms available – and the technician/handyman has already gone home for the night. I push all the buttons on the heater/ac unit and kick it a few times for good measure – but to no avail.
So I lay there all night long, unable to sleep, because of the incessant annoying weird clicking noise. “Click… click-click… click… click-click.” All frigging night.
And where is Jared? Sleeping like a baby in his silent click-free room, oblivious to my agony – but most definitely the cause of it.
I’d been working in my motel room for hours without even noticing the noise. But as soon as he mentioned it in his off-handed little way — it was all I could think about.
And now my sister is doing the exact same thing to me.
I call my sister and demand, “Why did you have to say that to me about my white walls being bland? I was so happy before! Now it’s all I can think about!”
She backpedals quickly, “Oh, it’s not that big a deal. The walls are fine. I didn’t really mean that you should do anything about it.”
I shout, “You sent me paint swatches!”
“Oh, did I?” she asks innocently.
“Um, yeah. Remember your thank you note: ‘Thanks for the visit. Great to see you and the family. Check out these samples — Riviera Sand would look great in the family room, but you need something darker in the dining room like Mocha Frappe. Here are a couple reds to consider for the Kitch–‘”
“OK, OK!” she interrupts. “It was just a suggestion.” I can feel her pouting through the phone.
“Well, don’t suggest! Keep your suggestions to yourself! I was living in perfect harmony before you and your big mouth mentioned the damn paint color! And I’m not about to spend a bunch of money and uproot my whole household to repaint this whole two-story house when the white walls are absolutely fine just as they are!”
(The painters arrive on Tuesday.)