On Crayons

Originally posted 5 September 2002

I've been in love with crayons ever since I can remember. The first box I remember having is the child-sized 'basic eight' which were large and long and only half-round, like a bunch of wax logs, split for easy use, and wrapped in colorful paper. They're supposed to be easier for young children, those who haven't yet developed fine motor skills, to handle. You know you're growing up when those fat coloring sticks become too heavy, the tips too large, for the work you want to do. But what I liked about them is that you could fill a page with color in next to no time, and the points never broke.

Later, probably beginning in Kindergarten, our lists of school supplies began to include personal boxes of crayons, or, in the wake of budget cuts, teachers would ask every child to bring in boxes of tissues, boxes of crayons, glue, etc., and all would be shared among the community of the classroom, over the year. I never went to grade school in California, except for sixth grade, by which time they tried to wean us away from crayons, and my vague recollection of the schools in New Jersey was that they were very structured, so maybe this was just a Colorado thing – after all, it was the seventies, and it was an open-classroom school.

Now, I'm the proud owner of a 96-pack, which contains the eight newest colors, as well as the eight that were retired several years ago. I've never used it. I might, someday, or I might not, but just having it means I can pick it up, and look at the riot of colors in that yellow and green box of artistic possibility. I can smell the combination of wax and construction paper – it leaves the merest trace of a metallic taste at the back of my throat, and I've never been sure if that's just a trick of the mind, or if it's a faint memory of the times, as a young child, I must have eaten a crayon. (Has any child ever /not/ eaten a crayon?).

I hate to be a brand-whore, but it's really only Crayola® Crayons that have the smell, and the color quality, that pleases me. I know this because once someone gave me another brand, and the blue wasn't blue enough, the red looked pink, and the brown was just disturbing.