My Room in the Attic Was Just Peachy


Every time I paint, which isn’t often I’ll admit, I think about the time my college roommate Doria and I painted our attic room peach.

Except it wasn’t peach. It was more like a bright orange. And not the hip, Martha Stewart Paint Colors Bright Orange. When Doria and I did it, it wasn’t hip. It wasn’t artsy. It was ridiculous.

We were 19. What did we know about paint? We certainly didn’t know that the color of the paint when it’s in the can is nothing - and I mean nothing - like the color of the paint when it dries on the wall.

Nor did we know that if you wanted to lighten up the paint a shade or two, mixing in some white ceiling paint and stirring it with a couple of plastic chopsticks wasn’t exactly going to do the trick. 

We were at Kent State in the late ‘70s and lived in a big house on Linden Street with seven girls. We were so excited to get out of the dorm that Doria and I quickly agreed to share a bedroom. We didn’t care that everyone else got their own room. The attic was huge, so it was more of a bedroom-living room, with its own half-bath. Doria and I had been compatible as dorm roommates: She was hilariously funny and I gave her material for being hilariously funny. She did an impression of me studying that was requested at parties. It all worked out.

We moved our stuff into the attic and were pretty excited about “decorating.” And by that I mean deciding where to put the empty Boons Farm bottle with the peacock feather and my Kris Kristofferson poster.

The walls were a boring beige. So we went down into the basement of the house and rummaged around until we found some cans of paint. A can of what looked like pale peach and a can of white. We were going for the super-pale-peach effect, so we said, why don’t we mix the white in with the peach and that will give us pale peach.

I don’t need to tell you the neither Doria nor I were art majors, nor were we interior design or chemistry majors. We had about as much business mixing paint as we did addressing the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

But we were confident! We were 19! We were awesome bachelorette foxes in a swinging pad in the attic of an old house! Hear us roar.

It took us forever to paint that attic. The walls were short to the dormer ceiling, but the room was big. There was a lot of trim work and I’m sure we didn’t know how to do that right, either. About a third of the way around the room, we looked back and noticed that the paint was drying dark. Dark and bright. Dark, bright peach. 

“It must need another coat,” one of us said and the other agreed. Like a couple of stupid journalism and social work majors.

So we kept painting, particularly complainy when painting an alcove that jutted out and had four windows and seemed to go on forever. And then we did it all over again for the second time, hoping that the pale, barely-orange paint in the can would come out onto the walls in the same shade.

How weird that the second coat didn’t do that. Instead it became even darker, even brighter, even peachier, if that was possible.

Our landlord wasn’t very happy with us, when he saw the orange walls in the attic. Kurt was a city cop who probably made more money renting that old house to us than he did by arresting Kent bad guys or directing traffic or whatever it was that he did. He didn’t stay mad, though. Doria was next on his list of girls who lived in our house that he wanted to ask out.

We lived up there for two years with the dark, bright, peach orange walls. What were we supposed to do, paint it?

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