Posted by: wrmcnutt | May 5, 2010

Like I’ve Said, Men Can Only See Nine Colors

Way back when I was running an IT department of five, we shared a network printer with the Marketing Department.  (Also a small unit of about five.)  From time to time, we’d get a complaint that we’d loaded the printer with “gray paper.”  I’d ask the guys in my all-male group if anyone had loaded gray paper in the printer, they’d all say “no,” and we’d shrug, and get on with the day.

One day, the head of Marketing, an ambitious lady, and somewhat aggressive decided the problem needed to be solved, and came sailing into my office waving two fistfuls of paper.  Once again, “someone” had loaded “gray paper” into the printer.

I couldn’t see the difference.  The rest of the team came up and all swore there was no difference in the color of the papers.  To put it mildly, she was astonished.  Apparently, to us, it was all just “printer paper.”  Even showing us the labels on the reams didn’t help.  They were clearly labeled, and we could all read.  But we couldn’t see the difference in the paper.  The resolution of the issue was simple:  we shifted the storage of the gray paper to another closet, and only kept white paper in the storage space near the printer.  Problem solved.

Over the years since then, I’ve pondered this when faced with terms like “banana” and “salmon.”  Everybody knows:  Bananas are yellow.  Salmon meat is pink.  “Banana” and “Salmon” are not colors. They are food products.  Which brings me to the title:  Men Can Only See Nine Colors.  The comic, below, from Doghouse Diaries, is illustrative of my point.  I add “black” and “white” to his range of male-visible pigments.

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  1. the line between Lavender and Carnation is where Martin and I have the most …discussions. Especially when dressing Ginny.

    “this is pink honey” “no it’s not, it is purple” not really….it is pink.


  2. Tip of the iceberg, man, tip of the iceberg.

    You should see *my* color wheel.

  3. Rather related, have you seen

    • I love Need to get over there more often.

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