birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

The Yellow Dress

It’s not my best color, yellow. I look like I’m suffering from a bad case of jaundice when I wear most shades of it, but twice in my life my least favorite color has allowed me to make impressive impressions—one of which actually saved my ass(and not by frightening off sharks).

The first time was in college. I was not sorority girl material so I had never considered getting involved in any kind of Greek organization. When my cousin invited me to try out to become a “little sister” at his fraternity I said “hell no.” But he kept insisting because he said each brother was required to suggest at least one nominee and I’d be doing him a huge favor if I’d just come to the rush party.

I finally agreed because I was sure it would be a one-and-done event. I’d show up. He’d get his brownie points. I’d never go back. So I put on the only dressy dress I owned, a canary yellow dress the origins of which I cannot recall, and arrived feeling frumpy and out of place—the moment I saw all the other girls in their little black dresses I knew I’d never fit in. I made it through the party but left sure that I’d never hear back from the fraternity, or maybe even my cousin. That was until he called to offer me a bid. He was as shocked as I was but then he added, “it was brilliant to wear that yellow dress. Everyone remembered you.”

The second time yellow made an impression—and may have saved my life—was many years later when my boyfriend and I were traveling in Costa Rica. On that day I happened to wear a pale yellow sun top, the last piece of clean clothing I had in my suitcase and my least favorite choice.

I felt differently about it though after our rental car got a flat tire on a twisty, windy road and, because of the narrow shoulder, we could not get the vehicle fully off the pavement. While my boyfriend was furiously trying to change the tire I heard another car engine screaming up the hill toward us so I ran toward the sound, rounding a curve just as the car approached. I waved my arms and jumped up and down bringing the car to a screeching hault. The driver leaned out, mad at first until I explained in broken Spanish why I was acting the madwoman in the middle of the road. He nodded and said something to the effect of “your yellow shirt, it saved you.”

Rhymes With Pasta

Ruth - She Lived Up To Her Name