Purple Pain: Growing Up Color Blind

Posted: December 21, 2014 in Life, Science
Tags: ,

Apparently I’m supposed to see something here? Yeah, I got nuthin’.

So a lot of you know I’m color blind. I often read where being color blind is a handicap, and I suppose it is to a certain extent. Still, on a scale of 1-10 I’d give it about a .3 at the most.

So, handicap schmandicap. Ain’t no thing as they say.

Color blindness is carried by females and passed to males, so my grandfather had it. He gave it to my mother, who passed it to me. My sisters have both given it to their first-born sons, so my nephews Josh and Brett are both color blind too. Good times.

I distinctly recall the very first time I knew I was color blind. I was in 3rd Grade and we were looking at our science books. The teacher was saying something about color blindness and was telling us to look at one of those pictures with dots on it like the one you see above. She was saying that, if you were color blind, you couldn’t see the number in the middle.

Uh, what number? I even looked at the books on the desks around me to make sure I had the right page.


With my type of color blindness, pink looks light blue, purple appears to be navy blue, lime green looks yellow, blah-blah-blah.

It’s presented some minor problems in my life, nothing more, nothing less. For example . . .

I was once coaching junior high football on a Saturday morning up in Washington Court House and told the other team’s coach they needed to turn the scoreboard on. After looking at me like I had a 3-toed sloth on my head, he informed me that the scoreboard was, in fact, on. They had those red lights and for whatever reason they were completely invisible to me in the daylight. Weird.

I’ve never been able to find mushrooms in the woods. They just blend right in with the other foliage. Can’t see ’em.

And during the fall when folks point to the hills and talk about how beautiful the colors are? Yeah, they all sort of look the same to me. Not a lot of contrast, so to speak. I usually just nod and pretend it’s a gorgeous sight to behold.

I also can’t find an orange golf ball in the green grass for the life of me, so there’s that.

When I was in high school I bought some school clothes for the new year. I brought everything home and although they deny it now, I remember showing my sisters the stuff I bought and they approved. Then even picked out a particular pair of blue jeans they liked and I wore them the first day back to school.

They were purple.

That was a fun day, lemme tell ya. My purple jeans were quite the hit that day. Good Lord.

After a while I just learned to wear a lot of black or khaki pants when I had to dress nice since just about everything matches those colors. Makes things a helluva lot easier.

I’ve also learned other facts along the way, such as the green traffic light is on the bottom and the red on the top. It’s this way so you can see it from farther away. That way if you’re cresting a hill you’ll see the red light quicker. Also, I look for clues. For instance, if somebody has a dark Ohio State shirt on I’m pretty sure it’s red, and if I see a light Michigan shirt I know it’s chickenshit yellow. You learn after awhile.

And don’t ask about matching my ties and shirts. Let’s just say I ask a lot of questions when I buy clothes or give my sister a call before leaving the house. I’ve also taken a lot of selfies and sent them to friends just to make sure things matched.

It’s also pretty amusing when people compliment me on a certain color shirt I might be wearing, such as, “You really look nice in purple.” Or, “It takes a lot of confidence to wear that pink shirt.” Not really, because I can’t comprehend why pink would be associated with being feminine. Totally foreign concept to me. If it matches I’ll wear it. End of story.

And it always amuses me when people find out I’m color blind (especially kids), because the first question is invariably, “Really? What color does this look like to you?”  Then they point to their shirt or their pants or something they’re carrying. Sometimes just to amuse myself I say something outrageous. For instance, they’ll show me a red shirt and I’ll say it looks yellow. Or if I’m feeling really ornery I’ll say plaid. That usually shuts them up.

People always seem amazed that I can’t see pink or purple, but how do they know the purple they see is the purple somebody else sees anyway? I mean, if you’ve been told your whole life that something was purple how would anyone know the difference? Am I making any sense? Am I asking too many questions? What is the meaning of life? What is truth? Who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong?

I’m pretty sure I’m losing my mind.

Bottom line, although it causes the occasional complication it’s not that big of a deal. It’s hard to explain, but how can I miss what I’ve never seen?

I can’t, right?



Yeah, still nuthin’.

  1. InMyHead says:

    Interesting! There are various degrees of color blindness, isn’t there? I would probably be like your elementary students…asking endless questions, lol. Speaking of questions, philosophical questions like the ones you asked…drive me CRAZY!

  2. Larry says:

    Shit, all those time you wore the purple slacks with the pink shirts to school, I just thought you were gay!

Gimme a holler.

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