Matching my father’s dark socks out of the laundry basket required concentration, but I never thought that it mattered much until I was asked on every application towards a field biology position if I was color blind. Yup, it mattered. The following year gave me two shiver-me-timber moments when my best friend commented on the purple pants I wore all college long. ”What purple pants?! Purple is my least favorite color…I would never wear purple pants!!!” Well, it turns out that my favorite pair of corduroys worn bare over three years were never the dark beauty of brown bark to others, but more of a Barney blimp barrage - and I thought I was looking soooo good! The second sighting of re-sighting came a few months later when I went and bought a couple of skeins of beautiful turquoise and other jewel-tone yarns in my fervered-fever of fascination as I had just learned and become obsessed with crocheting. Of course I excitedly showed off all the cool colors to T and her response was layers of laughter.
Totally confused and not in the know-why, T started to pull some clothes out of my closet and asked me to describe the colors. Apparently, I don't just mix up brown/purple/green, or have a hard time with dark brown, black, and gray socks, but learned that the colors of my life are singularly spectacular and out of the norm.
To my surprise, the tail end of the physical examination required upon employment in Oakland Unified Schools a couple years later included an Ishihara color test like the plates above - non of which I can identify. The medical assistant actually said “wow” as she had never had a patient so well unskilled in this stained slideshow of saturation. I remember concentrating and squinting and calculating as best I could and only able to accurately identity a couple of numerals out of the thirty or so pics revealed. Of course, this got my brain going: am I red-green? If so then how come I don’t have a problem with traffic lights? This all took place before technology glued itself onto the pages of modern life so there was no rush to research or take an online test. That came only several years ago and the results didn’t say much. According to the tests, my color perceptions weren’t identifiable with any of the commonly known/labeled color deficiencies. (Someone recently shared his unique one-color-blind in one eye, and one-color-blind in the other - a lighted brain bulb moment!) As well, it is extremely rare for a woman to be colorblind as the most usual cause is difference (termed “fault” in science!) in the development of retinal cones that perceive color and transmit information to the optic nerve. The genes that produce these photopigments are carried on the X chromosome, so I am an especially unique 0.5% of the entire female population with this special color-blind-perception-gift.
Hoping these next few adventures in reality rendered will be chromatically cool, or not, but happy to start bursting brightly beyond the fabled fear.
If you wanna see a true master manipulator of chromatically cool - do check out some of Tara Faughnan's quilts!
On the Shelf