I didn't know I was colorblind until the 11th grade. I was a very good chemistry student, so I was surprised when I got back a test with a failing grade. We were supposed to test pH by comparing the color of the sample with a color chart. I got all of them wrong.
My teacher, Ms. Shea, called me up after class and had me repeat the test. Again, all wrong. She asked if I was colorblind and I told her no, that I could see colors. She gave me a colorblindness test, and sure enough, I was colorblind.
For those of you who aren't colorblind, it doesn't mean we can't see colors, only that some shades of color are difficult for us to tell apart. Let me give you an example: When I see a traffic light, all of the lights look yellow to me, so I have to go by which one is lit. This worked quite well until the first time I went to Florida, where they have sideways streetlights! Don't worry; I survived.
Clothing was always a problem. In junior high school, kids would sometimes laugh at what I was wearing. My mother solved that problem by pinning numbers on my clothes with a chart that said I could wear a 1 with a 3 or a 5, but not with a 2 or 4. She did it not knowing I was colorblind; she probably just thought I was stupid. I’m sure I was well known for some interesting combinations.
One thing every colorblind person understands is that when someone finds out you're colorblind, the first thing they do is ask you what color everything is. Sometimes I lie just to completely mess with their heads.
Being colorblind has never bothered me. I don't mind never really having seen fall foliage or a rainbow. If you've never seen something, how can you miss it?
Last winter, the Lovely Louise gave me a pair of sunglasses for my birthday (which is in January, if any of you wish to get on my good side by sending me a present). These weren't just any sunglasses. These sunglasses could shift the wavelength of light and correct color blindness. Get out of town!
I was quite nervous about putting them on, for some reason. I'm not really sure why. When I did put them on, my mouth fell open and all I could do was stare at everything around me.
We have a bush outside the lanai that is green with red flowers. I could never see the red flowers, since it all just looked green to me. Bang! I stared at this green bush covered with red flowers that I had never seen before. When my head swiveled around, I noticed something different about our bougainvillea: the bright blue flowers it had were gone, and in their place were flowers of a color I'd never seen. Louise told me they were purple. I had never been able to see the red in purple, so it always looked just blue to me. I also saw teal for the very first time.
It was weird. I kept seeing colors I had never seen before, and I had no name to associate with them. I had to learn colors again, just like a kid. Not only that, but all of the colors I could already see were now more vibrant and vivid.
I don't often wear these glasses. It's not that I don't like seeing all the colors, but they disturb the world I’ve grown comfortable with over the course of my entire life. It made everything I'd seen a lie. It was a bit depressing, and I don't like being depressed.
I will always be grateful to Louise for exposing me to sunsets, rainbows, and foliage. If you have someone in your life who is color blind, beg, borrow or steal these sunglasses and let them take a look. Maybe they'll be comfortable wearing them.