Pet Peeve #2 – The One About The Eyes
I thought it was about time for another Pet Peeves post, since I’m not done reading my current book, so don’t have a review ready. I have another pet peeve which, while minor in general, and would in no way make me quit reading a book, still pops up so often as to be impossible to ignore. Let me ask a question? How many of you have noticed someone good-looking across a crowded room, perhaps a restaurant or bar? Could you tell from clear across the room that this person had eyes the most remarkable shade of grass-green you had ever seen? Really? Even in a smoke-filled bar? Heck, from across some crowded rooms, I can barely tell the person even has EYES, let alone what color they are! So I’ve been putting it to the test lately. I look at people in the grocery store, at the mall, in my doctor’s waiting rooms, wherever. The point is, I’ve been looking. (And don’t think I haven’t been getting some strange looks back, too. I figure they’re probably just trying to tell what color MY eyes are. But I digress. ) Anyhoo, I am here to tell you that once you are more than say 12 to 15 feet away, or even less in some cases, it’s pretty near impossible to tell what color someone’s eyes are. Especially if they are light-colored. From all the way across the restaurant, you cannot tell grass-green from peacock-blue without binoculars! Trust me on this.
And what the heck are grass-green eyes, anyway? Have you ever seen anyone with eyes the color of grass? Or peacock feathers? Or even, and I quote, deep, dark emeralds? Light blue, darker blue, light green, deeper green, chocolate-brown, dark brown–these I can handle. But I have read some adjectives describing eye color lately that just make me want to laugh, which is usually not the effect the author has in mind. Beautiful eyes do not have to be lilac. In fact, there are NO people with lilac eyes. Or violet ones, no matter what Liz Taylor’s fans said. Both lilac and violet are shades of lavender or purple. Eyes don’t come in purple. Prose describing eyes, perhaps. But not the eyes themselves. I read a book recently that had a character whose lilac eyes turned maroon when she was troubled. MAROON. (This was not intended to be a sign of demonic possession or some weird space alien thing that might have made it believable, you understand.) Gulp. Ummmm…maroon is a shade of deep, dark WINE. Lord, please deliver me from anyone with maroon eyes! Talk about needing help to get the red out!
And while I’m on the subject of eyes that change color when a person is mad or sad, well…not to put too fine a point on it…they don’t. They really don’t. Honest. When eyes appear to change color in an instant, it is an illusion caused by either a change in the amount of light striking the eye, or by dilation of the pupil, which can make eyes suddenly look darker. But green eyes do not suddenly turn gold when a person is angry. Well, not a person from THIS planet, anyway. Eye color can change as a child grows up, or as a person gets on in years. There can be some gradual darkening of a child’s eyes, and some equally gradual fading of an adult’s. But no one’s eyes suddenly shift color in actuality. No. One’s. I swear it on a big stack of Visine bottles.
All I can say is, you writers out there–and you know who you are–can’t you just describe a lovely pair of eyes in a more realistic way now and then? Perhaps in addition to giving us a realistic color, the descriptions could relate to the emotions of the character? The eyes could be kindly, or fierce, or sharp, or dull. Any number of adjectives like that would work. But please don’t perpetuate the myth that eyes come in taupe, mauve, navy blue, or heaven forbid, maroon. I know I would appreciate it, and surely others might, as well? Stop the madness, I say! Give us eyes we can believe in!
Whew. I feel better now! *grin*