There are certain things in life that are so ugly they’re beautiful, or so ugly they’re cute. (The French call it jolie laide; the Japanese, busakawa.) Think of bulldogs, bumpy noses — or Birkenstocks. This week, we’re celebrating the faces that only a mother could love. Welcome to Fugly Week on the Strategist.
Nobody loves yellow. In most informal surveys (sample size: co-workers in my immediate vicinity), I’ve found it to be the color most people think they look the worst in. It is also a color that, when employed on bedroom walls, can be sleep-inhibiting. Its high-visibility is so alarming to the human brain that it’s applied to crossing-guard vests and school buses to jar people out of states of tranquility, preventing school children from being struck by vehicles. In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” it even literally drives a lady insane. In spite of that, there is a particular range of yellow I can’t help but find beguiling. It’s warmer, deeper, and less saturated than canary. Not pastel, but an Atomic Era trade-in, like the Brady family’s melamine. Think of the spectrum from Crayola’s Goldenrod to the color of Calorie Mate boxes. It’s the Millennial Pink of yellow. (And it’s, in fact, very Memphis.)
In a recent decision to self-medicate my ennui with color therapy, I’ve been finding Millennial Yellow (it’ll catch on!) fixtures to brighten up pasty corners of my apartment. While visiting Target, I spotted this nightstand. Structurally, it seemed innocuous, but design-wise, it was ambiguous in its source material. “What was it even going for?” I thought out loud. Its knobs were almost 100 percent an afterthought, and its decorative molding was “mommy blog” at best. I frowned at it. But, it’s ochre paint job was just so likable and I couldn’t take my mind off of it. That night, I purchased it online.
Most objects the size of mini-fridges are incredibly expensive to ship to you, but not this. It had free shipping, and three days later, it arrived in Brooklyn. It came stoutly packaged and, to my surprise, fully assembled. Furniture collation is as boring as it is tedious, has no real correlation to intelligence, and is never done right the first time. But, all I had to do was unsheathe it from the box and nestle it into place. Installation took 20 seconds.
It functions sensibly enough, providing plenty of bedside storage with its three drawers. (I use the bottommost drawer as a “concept gym” to hold a series of resistance bands, Tiger Balm, and steroid cream.) Its nonporous surface can be easily wiped clean of coffee rings. It doesn’t even wobble. It’d be perfectly nondescript if it wasn’t for its hue: sulphuric and an eyesore. Should I grow tired of its ugliness, I suppose I could always give it a new coat of paint. But, until then — it’s me, my yellow nightstand, and a big dumb smile on my face.
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