joshua and the purple crayon.

"There is purple all over my clothes."


"Purple. See?" He held up one of his black work shirts. There was a splash of purple that I didn't recall seeing before. We started rifling through the pile of clean clothes on the kitchen table. Most of them were black shirts and black pants, and all of them had been purpled. I'd never considered using "purple" as a verb before, but it certainly applied in this case.

"Was there a chapstick in one of the pockets?" I've made that mistake before.

"No. Now I have to buy a bunch of new work clothes."

"I'm sorry, baby."

"I'm the one who did the laundry." Well, yes. I wasn't apologizing because I felt like I had done anything wrong. I was communicating that I was sorry he was in the rotten position of owning several sets of unusable waiter outfits.

"We can go around to all the Goodwills tomorrow and get you some new work clothes."

"It must have been something of yours. 'Cause you're a girl." I heard him mumble something else; the only word I caught was "fruity." Okay, that was kind of a stretch. I couldn't think of anything that I owned that would purple a load of laundry. But I let it go, because he was just upset about the prospect of searching every thrift store in town for a new wardrobe.

It was time for me to go to work. He sat at one end of the table, his Cheerios and a pile of ruined laundry before him. I leaned in for my good-bye kiss. He was a little aloof, but kissed me and told me he loved me, too. I could tell that he was absolutely furious with me. But I could also tell that he was suppressing it, and, figuring he would be over it by that evening, I didn't mention it. You may blame me for being a girl if it helps you through this difficult time, but only because I love you.

I recognized that suppressed anger, because I have felt it and I have held it deep down in my tummy. Sometimes we get angry, even when we know it's irrational and unfair. If we can't always help our feelings, we should get credit for having the sense to recognize when not to act on them.

That night, I came home and searched the pile of laundry, the dryer, and the washer for anything that might have made everything so fruity. I found nothing. I shrugged and gave it up as a lost cause.

Later, when he got home, he brought it up again.

"I figured out what made everything purple."


"I had a crayon in my pocket. We have them at the restaurant for kids and I must have kept one in my pocket after bussing a table."

"I bet there's a way to get it out. Someone on the internet has figured this out before."

When he wasn't looking, I took one of his black work shirts and rubbed one of the spots on a piece of paper. It made a purple scribble, like the results of a three-year old let loose on a paper placemat at a restaurant. I giggled.

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