IMHO: Out of the blue, and into the black

By Ron Scopelliti

Dreams always get me in trouble. Whenever I start dwelling too much on what’s going on in my subconscious mind, it ends being an enormous drain on my time and intellectual energy, leading me to unhealthy behaviors – long periods of soul searching and shoe gazing and, if things are really bad, listening to Coldplay. Who needs any of that? Eventually it wears me out to the point where I need a nap, which inevitably adds more fuel to my subconscious fire. Many promising Sunday afternoons have died this way.

I bring it up because last night I had a dream about the Braga Bridge in Fall River, where it was painted its previous shade of green instead of its current blue. This wouldn’t be particularly remarkable if I hadn’t been halfway through a writing column about the absence of the color blue in my dreams.

My dreams are usually dominated by green if I’m dreaming about the forest, gray if I’m dreaming about the city or the highway, and occasionally tans and oranges if I’m dreaming about the desert. But never blue – even if I’m dreaming about the water.

There should be blue in my dreams. After all, I have blue eyes, own a lot of blue jeans and blue shirts, and live in a blue state.

Blue features prominently in much of my favorite music. There’s “Out of the Blue” by Neil Young, the Cowboy Junkies’ great version of “Blue Moon,” Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” and a bunch of stuff by Blue Oyster Cult. None of my favorite songs mention green or gray or tan. And who would ever listen to a band called Tan Oyster Cult or, worse yet, Green Oyster Cult? Blue oysters suggest a sort of alien, or supernatural provenance. Green oysters just make me think of Imodium and air freshener.

But blue just never works its way into my dreams. Maybe it’s because blue is just kind of a contrary color. A few years ago there was a segment on the NPR podcast “Radiolab” about how Homer never mentions the color blue in “The Iliad” or “The Odyssey,” an observation first written about by nineteenth-century British Prime Minister William Gladstone.

The show went on to cite other researchers who found that throughout a wide variety of cultures, words for colors don’t all appear at once – they appear in stages. And blue is always the last one to appear.

Some theorize that it’s because blue doesn’t appear much in nature, and face the obvious counter-argument that the sky and the sea are blue. But they’re really not, because we know that water and air are both clear. They only appear blue because of the way blue light’s short wavelength allows it to be scattered. So the sky and the sea aren’t really blue, and cartography student Buster Bluth from “Arrested Development” wasn’t that far off when he pointed to a nautical chart and said, “Obviously the blue part here is the land.”

My research into blue led me to one overwhelming conclusion: we’re all thinking too much about it. Physicists, NPR hosts, psychologists, prime ministers… My web research on the subject led me to NASA, to new age sites, to poetry sites, to music sites, to sites about King Harald of Denmark who ate a lot of blueberries and was given a now-familiar nickname – Bluetooth. And I found videos of the world’s favorite Homer, Homer Simpson, trying to replace his favorite pair of blue pants. We’re kind of obsessed with blue. Maybe my non-blue dreams are just a way to escape the obsession.

There’s gotta be something more important to think about than blue: global warming; the impending overdevelopment of Esmond; the possibility that Kanye West will run for President with Ivanka Trump as his veep. Maybe I should follow Homer’s lead, and just ignore blue.

I think the best way for me to get back on track is to go to a coffee shop with my tablet and start working on a column that doesn’t involve physicists, prime ministers, or Danish kings. Oddly enough I have an overwhelming urge to avoid the green of Starbucks and the brown of Panera, and go to Blue State Coffee…