The Tyranny of Beige


The walls of America are always painted beige. Whether in raucous hospitals, anonymous hotels, or  quiet, striving homes, we Americans do our work of living surrounded by the silence of this non-color,  this tone emptied of meaning. What can we be, in places so vacant of spirit, so empty, so unadorned?  We can be like each other, or like the colors we spy in the background of the TV, so often our only  window to the world outside our mute and featureless prison walls, these private oubliettes of the soul.  

Beige is a color so faceless, so elusive, even its own color swatches cannot nail it down. It comes in a  thousand barely-distinct hues, like a thousand broken piano keys with no hammers hitting home, only  the disappointing clack of key against wooden frame. Walk the halls of your local home improvement  store (itself a peculiarly American institution) and you'll find it papered with many-hued beige paint  chips bearing not even halfway clever names: the wanderlust of Dusty Trail, the misleading Crushed  Silk, the prescriptive Agreeable Gray. It's a color best described with words ending in "-ish": grayish,  yellowish, whiteish, brownish. It has no fixed address, no point of contact, no door you can pound upon  to demand the answers you so richly deserve. Beige is a smooth, featureless wall. No entry is permitted  here.  

Beige is not really a color. It's an assignment of neutrality. It's a space to fill, a first draft to be  overwritten, a blank stare in place of the response you were promised. It is a personality emptied of  personality, a hole that leaves no void, a light that illuminates nothing. It is infirm of purpose, one of the  sleeping dead without even a picture to mark its place. It is the absence of nothing, but little else, a  contradiction in terms. It is the color of no color, the voice of no voice, somehow deafeningly clamoring  for all its professional distance, all it's untouchable intimacy. 

It surrounds us, each and every day, slim against our minds like a dagger, like a dream. It stalks us  through the avenues, through the offices, out into the starry skies. Our lives are papered beige, not just  our walls. It is a clinging color, one we cannot escape. It is, in essence, us. Beige is accepting no visitors.  Beige is taking no calls.  

And these last years we have all spent locked away from each other, isolated for our health, we have  spent more time soaked in beige than should be safe. We are starting to feel the deadening effects, the  poison it slowly imparts. It leeches from us our spirits, our souls. It steals what we hope to maintain.  And in return, it grants us nothing, no escape. It simply stares, and waits. Beige, we fear, is our fate. 

About The Author

Alex Ashley Fox is a neurodivergent writer living in LA making poetry and prose about how our brains let us down. Twitter: @_followafox.