Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Black vs. Black Black

Sometimes, at work, I'm presented with dilemmas which require a great deal of perspicacity. In fact, it isn't unusual for a group of us to skip our break and gather around a desk and brainstorm. It is hard work, but someone has to do it.

Yesterday I placed an order for some black material. You'd think that would be simple.

It wasn't.

This morning, the supplier wanted to know if I wanted black, or black/black.

"What is the difference?" I asked.

"Well, there is black, but the black/black is darker than the black," she explained.

"What could be darker than black?" I asked.

"Black/black is darker than black."

"Black/black isn't even a color," I accused. "Black/black is someone just saying black twice."

I could hear a pen tapping on the other end.

"I mean," I said, "you don't say blue/blue is darker than blue. You say navy blue is darker than sky blue, or periwinkle blue, or robin's egg blue. You don't just say there is blue, and there is blue/blue."

I heard a sigh. "Black/black is very black, darker than regular black."

"So what is the name of this black? It has to have a name. Is it end-of-the-world black? Or black-hole black?"

"Hmmm." I could hear her shuffling papers, as if she were looking at the data sheet. "It doesn't have a name other than black/black."

"Well, I think we want the black. But I'll check with the project manager, just in case we want the black/black."

I checked with both project managers and the document control person. This required some brainstorming and research, but it turned out we wanted the black, mostly because it was less expensive than the black/black, and more readily available.

But, it still concerned me that the manufacturer had not given the black/black a name. I mean, really. Would anyone say, "I'd like of can of gray/gray" in the Home Depot paint section?

Naturally, when I sent our supplier our answer, I also passed along this list to give to the manufacturer, as possible names for the black/black.

1. Zombie Black
2. Deep Space Black
3. New Moon on a Cloudy Night Black
4. Black Widow Black
5. Void Black
6. Absence-of-Light Black
7. Witch Hat Black (offered by Tami)
8. Doomsday Black (offered by Angela)

And what if we wanted a color darker than black/black? I offered this possibility:

1. Blackity Black Black

By the way, the above picture was taken by James Gathany and downloaded from Wikimedia commons with this note attached: This image is a work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, taken or made during the course of an employee's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

Glad they are watching out for us. Looks like their job is as difficult as mine.


Editor's Note: The supplier has become used to dealing with Melanie Sherman, and no one was hurt during the course of the above conversation.


  1. This was a great blog post! Very funny :) You could add Vampire Eyes Black. That sounds dark and creepy :p

  2. Snannon,

    I'm positive the supplier will welcome additional suggestions. And yours is a great one.

  3. Great post!! Although when I signed onto my blogger dashboard and there was a picture of a spider I almost soiled myself! I am terrified of spiders and at 4:15 am I was NOT expecting that. LOL

  4. "Black/black isn't even a color," I accused. "Black/black is someone just saying black twice."

    So true!

  5. I wish you could find an easier job, Melanie. This one is way too demanding. :)

  6. Love your list of suggestions! It's true--they ought to take their cue from the Home Depot paint section. I find paint color names to be so creative. We just did our kitchen in Ripe Currant and Polar Bear White.

  7. Jase

    I'm sorry I scared you. I wonder about the Center for Disease Control, though, that they must gad about shooting spiders. Not a job for you, humm?


    Thank you for agreeing.


    You think?


    Love the Ripe Current color. Perhaps black/black could be Savory Prune Black?

  8. Melanie, your wit shines in this great/great post.

    Blackout Black
    Coma Black
    Zero Color
    Heat Death Black

  9. Danny,

    Thank you. This is a delightful list of names. I'll pass this along to the supplier.

  10. I'd like to read this post but I'm scared to death of the spider!

  11. Perry,

    Back away from the spider and put down that can of Raid.


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