Feeling blue (not green)

I’m often asked what it’s like to be a writer — how I spend my days, how I experience the world. And so I will be sharing occasional essays from the front lines of my writing life. Enjoy!

Sailboat paper collage from "Feeling blue (not green)" by Beth Mende Conny

Heading to homeport, blue flag flying.
— 2013 Beth Mende Conny

Today I woke feeling blue. And I said to myself, “I feel blue.” And then, “Why blue?”

Blue is the color of sea and sky and beloved denim. In the Feng Shui pantheon of colors, it’s at the top for promoting peace and tranquility. It is calmness itself.

I suppose I would feel blue if I were the yellow-bellied black sheep of my family; or if I spent my days mired in red tape, feeling green with envy and riding about on a white elephant.

But no, I’m as blue as a blue blood turned blue collar, who talks a blue streak about his blue balls while gumming a blue-plate special and singing the blues. Yep, blue.

But why? How did the phrase “feeling blue” come to be?

A quick Web search and I have my answer:

The expression was coined in the days of deep water sailing ships. If a ship lost her captain or any of her officers, she would sail into homeport flying a blue flag and with her hull painted blue.

A sad occasion, to be sure, unless the captain was as unsavory a character as Bluebeard. Fairy tale has it that Bluebeard had many wives, all of whom disappeared. He married yet again — perhaps the 10th time was the charm — and told his wife that while she was free to roam the castle, she was not to enter a certain locked room. She, of course, opened the door only to find — surprise! —the bodies of Mrs. Bluebeards past. Apparently, he didn’t want to pay alimony.

Luckily, I am not married to a Bluebeard; my husband doesn’t even have a beard. And I don’t have to worry about him being lost at sea; he commutes by train. All I have to do is get out of bed and stop thinking of blues.

Perhaps I’ll read “Fifty Shades of Grey” while eating white chocolate and sipping green tea. Just the thought has me tickled pink.

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