The Electric Yellow Woman

The electric-yellow woman

I’m sitting in the waiting room of a medical lab. 

The space is brand new, decorated in a style I’d call “cold-nice”. It’s all grays and washed out wood-veneers. I feel like I’m in a soulless show-home where pleasing everybody has washed out all colour. The chairs and ‘feature walls’ take on a decidedly medical muted teal or sage hue I only ever see in institutions. 

I sit for nearly an hour. I am bored. My phone battery is dead. The only reading material is a newspaper called “Prime Time”, geared to the 50+ crowd. I scan through ads for senior’s living and an article what the moving “Avengers: Infinity War” is and why I should or shouldn’t care. 

Like sunshine piercing clouds, in walks a woman in a yellow raincoat and matching hat. Electric yellow. She reminds me of Paddington Bear. Age-wise, she’s Prime Time’s target market, but I doubt she’d be interested. Her pants are lime green. No socks and white loafers complete the look with a pop. I’m grateful for her colours. 

I may be smiling.

In a few seconds, the electric yellow woman is gone, but she leaves me thinking about the effects of our small choices to be different. To be interesting. Remarkable, even.

A few of years ago I encountered two documentaries almost at once. 

The first profiles Bill Cunningham, a decades-long fashion photographer for the New York Times. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more optimistic, sparkling yet humble servant of beauty. The film is called Bill Cunningham New York and you really should watch it to meet Bill, who has since passed away at 87 years young. 

The second film is called IRIS and profiles another elderly fashion trailblazer, Iris Apfel. Just try and watch this trailer without smiling. 

These films feature interviews with people making wild, often tacky fashion choices. I can’t remember who said what, but it was something to the effect of wearing clothing that brings joy to the world. That has stuck with me and is part of why I always perform in a bowtie. 

It’s not that I love bowties so much – it’s that a bowtie seems to me the most optimistic fashion accessory ever made. It just might put a smile on someone’s face when they need it most.

Like an electric yellow raincoat in a stale waiting room.

Photo by Katya Austin on Unsplash