All ye purple people read this!

- Letty Jacinto-Lopez () - November 17, 2002 - 12:00am
Whenever the Church cloaks the altar in deep purple to usher in the penitential season of Lent, in observance of the passion and death of Christ, it elicits a different kind of response from me. I celebrate! The surplus of violet, mauve, aubergine, puce, lilac, plum and amethyst is a feast to my eyes.

I’m a purple junkie. The color drives me nuts and I can’t seem to have enough of it. I don’t remember when this obsession began exactly but I know how it intensified. The dosage came in trickles. I heard Frank Sinatra singing to young lovers about buying "violets for her furs." Not having violets in my mother’s garden, I rushed to the school library to pull out the encyclopedia for a picture of the red and blue-hued flower. That was the catalyst that got me hooked for life.

Sinatra was followed by Elizabeth Taylor’s deep violet eyes, Kim Novak’s "personal space" built on a precarious cliff with a breathtaking view of the ocean. Her bathroom faced the beach and the ocean done in soft shades of lavender. Vincent van Gogh’s painting of "Irises," rows of lavender abloom in the plains of Valensole & Albion in Provence, Southern France, Steven Spielberg’s film entitled The Color Purple and my darling grandson’s toys and video tapes of Barney the purple dinosaur.

There are, however, three exceptions on my list of favorites. I am horrified to see a pearlized purple car, any man wearing a shiny and shimmering purple shirt and how some fashion fiend had erroneously identified the color with the alternative sex!

Books always made reference to a distinction enjoyed by royal princes and princesses to differentiate them from ordinary untitled folks. They are "born to the purple" – a nice-nellyism to indicate that the blood that flows in their veins is not red but violet! Because of this rarity, they are favored, a cut above the rest. The same color is used as a symbol of high authority. It represents splendor, dignity, rank and wealth.

Purple can be somber and subdued like the evening sky. The orange setting sun becomes even more splendid when it is seen fading across the horizon on purplish, cushiony clouds. It can be vulgar and profane like the way we describe a purple language. It is sinister and heinous like a villain’s cold-blooded stare while it can be showy and ornate like a purple prose. It is a phantasm to see orchids bloom among the browns and greens in the greenhouse. The marvel of it all is that, it is the only color that can evoke the tandem feeling of remorse and retreat. While the former is in response to a helpless, unavoidable situation, the latter is redolent of peaceful strength harnessed to give hope and tranquility.

I think it was also a case of osmosis because I grew up in a milieu where both family and friends were partial to purple. My mother always said that young girls should never wear anything outside icy pinks and lemon yellows because only grownups can get away with purple. It didn’t help that our favorite couturier, Inang Gonzales of R. T. Paras, carried the same belief and if you were visiting her atelier, you’d know what I mean when I say she had a severe case of purple overkill!

Even the nuns in our convent school wore habits in deep aubergine – the only religious order I know that veered away from the traditional black and white. I always took my iced halo-halo with a heap full of ube halaya (purple yam) and much later on, I found a snack made out of purple yam that was deep fried to a crisp. The addiction was carried through in my career. It is a common sight when I’d go on the brink and wear purple for days on end. My officemates, by now purple-abused and purple-blinded, promulgated an unwritten law that required anyone who would be interested to wear purple had to obtain my prior clearance! That was how they brought my "mania" to a fevered level. This one-color fixation became so "contagious" that it eventually became de rigueur to find an entourage of converts. That way it also simplified our shopping rule: Whenever a gift is required, look, feel, and breathe purple!

What’s the Purple Profile? Imaginative, sensitive, artistic, sophisticated. You have noble ideas with a keen appreciation of the culture. In love you seek to attain a magical quality and refuse to settle for anything less. You take chances and believe that you must do so to make the most of what life has to offer.

When it comes to gemstones, February’s amethyst becomes the first choice. In medieval times, it was used as an amulet to prevent intoxication. Its supernatural power brings luck, ensures faithfulness and protects against evil and homesickness. Amethyst feeds the artistic soul thus singers, dancers, writers, poets and healers naturally wear it as a keepsake or as their costume jewelry. It is also dubbed a saintly color so men of the church use it for vestments, jewelry, and ornaments. As rock quartz, it harnesses good energy and it is said to turn warm to absorb negative vibes and general malaise. The crown chakra is also amethyst (violet) and is the spiritual centre and home to indwelling spirits. It is responsible for the spiritual renewal to reach divinity.

My favorite affirmation, however, comes from a book that gave a warning – When I am an Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple by Jenny Joseph. The author, who would have spent all her life conforming to rules, will "spend her pension on brandy and summer gloves. She shall sit down on the pavement when tired, press alarm bells and run a stick along the public railings. To make up for the sobriety of her youth, she will walk barefoot in the rain, pick flowers from other people’s gardens and learn to spit!"

But since she still has to set good examples for her children, she’ll have friends over for dinner and read the papers and be proper and polite. But watch out when she breaks her shackles. Purple will color her day and her world and wouldn‚t that be fine? At last, this blue-st mixed with the red-est of colors will shout her freedom, integrity, dignity and uncompromising love.

In my case, I’ve had a lot of practice. There’ll be no shock nor surprises left.
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