Friday, September 11, 2009

The Color of Papaya

Do you know what color a papaya is? If you said "yes," you're a liar. Or at least mistaken. Why do I say this with such confidence, without even knowing who you are? It's because of something I learned last month. Namely, papayas are many colors.

A darling woman, one of the darlingest I know, got married last week in Ecuador, in a wedding with a "papaya and cream" color scheme. She commissioned this guest book for friends and family to sign, specifying that the cover should be papaya.

I am a Latin Americanist. At least, that's one of the things I have called myself over time. I marched to the paper store confidently, imagining some papaya I ate once in the town at the mouth of the Amazon. It tasted a little like vomit, but at least it was pretty. When I got to the store, I found lots of sweet papers, including some envelopes in a pinkish-orange whose official color name was "papaya." I bought a big sheet of paper that matched the envelopes exactly, then went home.

When I got started on the project, I noticed that the price tag on the paper said, "pumpkin." My confidence waned. How could a pretty tropical fruit look like the thing we carve ghoulish jack-o-lanterns from? I turned to the Internet, which is a great place for worried people to get their confidence shattered. Indeed, I saw a spectrum of papayas that ranged from cool peach to cherry red, not to mention apple green. Not only are papayas different colors on the outside, but each papaya contains several different colors in the inner flesh. There is no "papaya" color. Or rather, there are infinite "papayas."

And that's when it became lucky that the darling bride had hired a quilter to make her book. I pulled out every shade of orange, pink, and yellow that I had stored under my table, and got to work on the papayaest collage my studio had ever seen. And this is the result.

Today marks six days since the wedding took place, and as far as I know, my color choices did not endanger or offend the nuptials one bit.



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