Color after slightly altered color, the crayons stood at attention on the risers in the gargantuan box. Some hues differed so slightly from others that no artist’s eye could distinguish them, much less the third graders streaming towards them. No, their differences mattered little. When little Johnny and little Susie both wanted a blue crayon, they could both have one from this box. Susie might whine “but they’re not the SA-AME!” and have a valid point, but the teacher could just as validly reply, “But look how they color; you can’t really tell the difference.” Yes, these brightly hued sticks of wax were, essentially, all the same.
Except for the one that was missing.
The one that was missing became the most highly prized crayon, the one that absolutely every child had been dying to use on THAT DAY and their pictures would all be completely wrong without that color. Only that one. Which color? The one that was missing! Yes, but what was the name of the color that was missing? Specifically or generally.
What was it? That didn’t matter. Had it been touched by any student in the past week? That didn’t matter either. Had it ever been there in the first place, or was it missing since last year’s students lost it? You guessed it: that didn’t matter.
Johnny didn’t want blue.
Susie didn’t want blue.
Bobby, Annie, and Tommy didn’t want blue.
Mrs. Harrison sighed and closed the box of crayons. It was time for recess.