So I slog myself over to the paint store (and slog really is the right word) conveniently located just a block from my house and I stagger up to the counter, broken and beaten by the fresh hell that is home renovation and I say to the chipper and fresh faced young man behind the desk:

“I would like some trim paint please.”

The dude regards me with a keen and excited eye. Helping people get paint is obviously very important to him. Having trim paint has become pretty important to me, so we’re simpatico.

“A litre or a bucket?”


“Latex or oil?”


“Semi-gloss or gloss?”



” White please.”

While we had been ticking along at a good clip, the paint guy and I, this is a stopper. He stares at me for a second, like he can hardly believe my choice, and then he says “Which white?”

“White” I say firmly. “Just ordinary white.” I try to make my face an expression that represents the possibility that this will be fast and easy.

The paint guy gives me a look that says he clearly thinks I have no idea about the importance of the decision I am about to make, and asserts loudly “There is no ordinary white. You can’t just have white. You have to choose your white. The whites are all different.”

He begins then, to pull quarts of white paint off of the shelf and line them up in front of me. Presumably they are all different. As he pulls them and puts them down… he names them:

Angel White…

Berkshire White…

Snow White…

Antique White…

The vague headache I have had all day begins to pound. I rub my head and try some yoga breathing. “Dude….I just want white.”

He ignores me and three more cans hit the table.

Decorator White…


Vanilla White…

I want to scream. Plain white! Why are none of these named Plain White? What has happened to the world when a woman can’t just say she wants a freakin’ can of white paint! I take a deep breath and say “Look. I just want white. Simple, straightforward white. White with nothing going on. White with no name. Just white dude. Just put a can of white paint in the bag and ring it up. I’m a woman on the edge. White paint. In the bag. Please. You pick.”

He looks at me like I am refusing to make a life and death decision about a truckload of babies and kittens. He looks at me like I don’t understand anything at all. He looks at me like I don’t get paint and its influence on our happiness as humans. Then he takes a deep breath and says “I can’t pick. How could I pick your white? I mean, I don’t even know your main colour? Is it cool? Warm? Do you have a lot of trim, a little? What’s your colour theme in the house? Which white is your other trim? I can’t possibly just randomly pick a white!”

He resists the urge to tack on what he really wants to say, which is clearly something about how I shouldn’t even be allowed in a paint store because I do not respect paint the way that I should. When he is done, his face is a little red and he looks slightly breathless.

A second sales clerk stands behind him, ready to put down anything that looks like it might come to fisticuffs.

I breath. I think about the last few days. My head throbs. My shoulders ache. The twitch over my eye goes off again. I inhale pink…exhale blue and say:

“Dude. Please put a can of plain, ordinary, no-frills, non-decorator, not antique white paint in the bag and ring it up. Please.”

The guys face gets even redder. He opens his mouth and then closes it again. He inhales. He surveys the spread of Angel White, Berkshire White, Snow White, Antique White, Decorator White, Ultra-White and Vanilla White spread out before him, and there is a terrible pause…a pause where I realize that he can’t do it. These whites matter too much to him. In that same moment he looks at me and he realizes that I’ve got that “I’m so crazy from renovating that I can’t possibly give a flying crap about the whites and if you make me pick I will cry in your store” face on…and it hits us both that we are hopelessly, completely deadlocked….And that’s when it happens.

The clerk standing behind him reaches over, elbows Captain paint shade out of the way, picks up a can of white paint, puts it in the bag, steps bravely forward to stand in front of me, shoulders back, exuding confidence, smiles a disarming smile and says

“That will be $17. 85 please.”

My relief was complete. I took it home, I put it on the trim and I have no idea at all what white it is.


I swear it just looks white to me.