Confessions of the Colorblind

Though it affects millions of Americans, colorblindness is given short shrift by the mainstream “differently-abled” population. As many of you surely don’t know, colorblindness is a recessive trait that is much more common in men, though women can suffer from it as well if they are secretly men. Colorblindness affects an individual’s ability to recognize and differentiate certain shades of certain colors, primarily reds and greens, as well as their bastard offspring, e.g. orange.

For some reason, not being able to decipher blues and purples and reds and greens is not worthy of a telethon, candy sale, or even a good old-fashioned bikini carwash. Even so, the life of the colorblind is one of struggle and sadness. Unlabeled markers and impossibly diverse sets of colored pencils make the youth of a colorblind individual tragically traumatic. Consider these excerpts from my early childhood:

Optometrist: Can’t you trace the picture on the card? Look at the dots, trace the pretty butterfly made up of red dots in the field of green and yellow dots.
Little Me: But, but I can’t! I don’t see it!
Optometrist: Oh my, I think you may be colorblind.
Little Me: But what about the butterfly? I want to see the butterfly!

Elementary school only compounded my anguish:

Teacher: Without the Indians, treats such as corn dogs, corn bread, and corn chips wouldn’t exist. And to learn more about Native American life, we’re going to make tribal masks out of construction paper, glue, and glitter. But you can only use brown, black, and red paper, just like the Indians! I mean Native Americans.
Sally: Teacher! Teacher! David’s mask has GREEN in it! It has GREEN in it! He must not know how to follow directions as well as I do.
Teacher: David! Why did you use green in your mask? Are you some non-conformist? Yeah? Do you think you’re Lenny Bruce? Eh, Lenny? Is that it?
Not so Little Me: No, I’m colorblind! And my name is David.
Teacher: Now David, you know that you don’t have to lie to make friends. And it’s not nice to make fun of colorblind people. Just imagine if you were colorblind.
Not so Little Me: But I am colorblind!
Teacher: Go see the Principal, Lenny.

It’s best not to talk about my teenage years; it was a time of angst, strife, and intense paroxysms of self-loathing. But by the time I was reaching graduation, I had adjusted and was well liked. I was destined for Berkeley and future greatness. Yet the dark specter of colorblindness would follow me even here.

Girl I Met During Welcome Week: No, look. It’s a little lower. Just go for it.
Me: Is this it?
GIMDWW: No. There. Put your tongue right on it. It’s pinkish. It’s lighter than the rest of it. See it?
Me: No. I’m, uh, colorblind.
GIMDWW: Colorblind? But I thought you said my eyes were beautiful.
Me: They are. I’m just not good at deciphering shades of reds and greens.
GIMDWW: My eyes are green.
Me: Um … I know.
GIMDWW: You should probably put your clothes back on.
Me: I can’t believe I’m being blue balled like this.
GIMDWW: I’m surprised you can even tell.
Me: What’s that supposed to mean? Oh, because of the blue. I get it.

Thus the life of the colorblind is not all comic mishaps and incredibly exaggerated sexual exploits. It’s pain, suffering, and crushing loneliness. So please, if you ever meet someone who is afflicted, have some patience and remember: it may take him or her just a little longer to find your clitoris, or a crayon.