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Eyesight To The Colorblind By Tom Silvestro MAG
"Hey Tom, what color is this?" says a high school acquaintance pointing at his purple shirt.
I indulge the inquisitive individual and say, "I think it's ... pink?" The kid starts laughing. "PINK?! It looks PINK to you?"
By this time, a small crowd has formed and a curious onlooker asks, "Hey, what's going on?"
"Tom thinks that my shirt ... IS PINK!" More voices can be heard laughing.
One kid blurts out, "Wow! You're pretty stupid, Tom."
I try to tell them that I'm colorblind, but my voice is lost in all the hilarious high jinx. At long last, my words penetrate their dense minds and they understand why I don't know what color the purple shirt is.
"Whoa! So ... do you just like see black and white?" a spaced-out kid asks.
I felt like saying, "Yes, it's like I live in some 1940's movie," but I explain, "No, I can see colors - I just confuse some of them."
"Well, which colors do you confuse?" a girl asks.
"I sometimes confuse green with brown, pink with purple, and red with violet."
"Hmmm ... well, what color is my back pack?"
Oh no, not this again, I think to myself. I look down at the dark green back pack with a "In Search of the Eternal Buzz" sticker and say, "Ummm ... brown?"
The large crowd erupts in gales of laughter over the colorblind freak of nature. I decide it's time to leave amid countless other "What color is this?" queries.
I first discovered that I was colorblind in kindergarten. Mrs. Johnson had been checking how we all were coloring the picture of Abraham Lincoln. Countless compliments of "Ohhh, that's wonderful" or "Excellent work!" were heard as she looked over each shoulder. Then Mrs. Johnson came to my desk and a look of puzzlement crept over her face. It was a look that seemed to scream, "Dear God!!"
She pulled up a chair and asked, "Thomas ... why is Abraham Lincoln's hair green?"
I looked down at the crayon I was using to color in Lincoln's beard. Written on the side was the word "GREEN." I didn't understand. I could have sworn the color was BROWN!
Mrs. Johnson sent a note to my parents suggesting that I should see an optometrist about my possible colorblindness. My mother took me the following week. The doctor subjected me to a test called the "Isihara" - which I had always thought was the capitol of Mongolia or some foreign country. In this test, a different number is hidden in a jumble of varied colored dots. People who are colorblind cannot see the numbers. I thought to myself, This is a piece of cake!
But, it wasn't as easy as I thought. Imagine my surprise when the optometrist put the cards down and said blankly, "Ya know, Tom, ... out of 20 cards, you only got one right."
I couldn't believe it! I was actually ... colorblind!! Now, I have realized that it's not such a big deal, but I found out when I was only six. It seemed as though my life was over. I can remember being in a state of denial over my newfound vision problem, making my mother quiz me on the colors of fruits and clothes. But since there is nothing I could do to rectify my condition, I accepted my colorblindness.
But I wasn't alone in the family with my affliction. Both my sister and father are colorblind and I have several color-mpaired cousins, too. This put a heavy task on my mother who had to provide guidance on which clothes matched for my father, sister, and me. My mother saved me a great deal of embarrassment when I wanted to wear my red and white striped shirt with a plaid shorts to school. (Boy, would I have felt like a real schmuckl)
For a while I struggled with my color deficiency problem and I briefly joined CBA (Color Blindness Anonymous), which were full of role-playing situations like choosing wallpaper and buying clothes. The CBA meetings were good for me and provided a confidence boost. In fact, at each meeting, we'd start by saying, "I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And doggone it, I'm colorblind!"
I have now accepted the limitations of colorblindness, including my now impossible dream of becoming an interior decorator, and embrace it in all its weird splendor. But if another person asks me "What color is this?" I'm gonna hit the jerk over the head with a box of crayons!!fl
Maryland Heights, MO