#245, East Village, NYC
Vladimir Nabokov, whose prose I could eat with a spoon, had more than a way with words. He also had an odd perceptual knack when it came to the alphabet. In his memoir, Speak, Memory, Nabokov describes his experience, as a child, of looking at particular letters: "Since a subtle interaction exists between sound and shape, I see q as browner than k, while s is not the light blue of c, but a curious mixture of azure and mother-of-pearl." The phenomenon, grapheme-color synesthesia, occurs when a person perceives letters or numbers as having certain colors. It's one of those gifts, like perfect pitch, that you either have or you don't. I don't, though if you want to see something that's going to mess with your head, check out this picture.
But let me revise that last thought. Just because I don't have perfect pitch doesn't mean I can't recognize when a note is out of tune; similarly, just because I don't have grapheme-color synesthesia doesn't mean I can't recognize when a number's color is "off." I almost didn't want to post today's number. Why? Because the color brown is wrong. It is so wrong for this 245 that it makes me itch. What's up with that?
In the same vein, I've seen examples of text whose appearance goes against their meaning but doesn't bother me at all. A company with a fleet based in my hometown, the Yellow trucking company, has a logo with the word "Yellow" set against an orange background, the sight of which pleases me immensely.
It seems my wanna-be synesthesia only responds in the negative. I don't walk around seeing indigo-colored 4's unprompted. But I could be a quality control inspector for this stuff. I'd give green 87's the thumbs-up and boot off the assembly line red 50's and yellow 185's. But, like many of my other skills (inventing vampire jokes on the spot, for one), there doesn't seem to be much demand for it. Alas.