And climb the stairs to the beach...

Monday, March 10, 2014

Am I Too Brown?

My husband almost always looks nice. The clothes he chooses usually go well together and it's only occasionally that I send him back to the closet for a do-over.  But there are times when I realize it's sometimes a challenge for him. Ed said to me yesterday before leaving for the golf course, "Am I too brown?" I had no idea what he meant exactly, so I said in an incredulous  slightly befuddled tone "What are you talking about?!" He pointed to his hat, then his shirt and then his shorts and  said "Brown, brown, Brown." Nothing he had on was brown. He had on a beige hat, a grey shirt and khaki pants. Ed's just a little color blind when it comes to certain subtle shades. Not bad, really, just enough so that there are times when his clothing choices can be a little strange. Although, I am not totally convinced that's because he is color blind or just because he hasn't any real color sense.

Then there was the time when some of us gals were out shopping and my friend Karen was trying on a sweater. It was bright red, like really, really red! She said to me "I love this coral color, don't you?"

Of course I had to argue with her and run around the store to find all the things  that were really coral and show her that the sweater was really red!. When I think of coral, I think of a pinkish orange kind of color, sort of between peach and orange, but never would I confuse it with red. Of course when our other friend Sandy came on the scene, we grilled her to see what she thought coral was and she sided with me, which didn't surprise me. I mean it was very clearly a red sweater!

Then there are my favorite Pinnacle golf balls which I use because they are easier to see in the brightest of morning light when the fairway (or the rough, which is usually where I am) is covered with dew and the sun is low and bright.
I call these balls yellow but my friend Sue calls them green. I have heard others call them green, too, but to me they are clearly yellow and not one bit of green in them at all! Not only do I think they are yellow, it says so on the box!

The question here is something I have actually thought about quite often: Is color a subjective thing? Are we just using words to describe a color based on other things we know of that share the same perceived color? Do some people use the word red to describe something I see as green? As long as we are consistent and describe the tomato as "red" we wouldn't know if we were actually "seeing" the same color, would we?  Little did I know there are groups of scientists who have for centuries been studying the same question. Color realism is being studied in places like MIT and the University of Illinois today trying to answer the same question.

The most popular theory among color scientists currently (did you even know there were such people?):
"nothing is colored–at least not physical objects in the perceiver's environment, like tomatoes. For example
  [W]e know from psychophysical and neurophysiological investigations that color is created somewhere in the brain, although the exact location of this process is still unknown, and we even have no idea what entities the sensations called color are . . . In short, colors appear only at a first na├»ve glance to be located in objects." (Backhaus & Menzel 1992, p. 28)

And Galileo wrote the following:
"I think that tastes, odors, colors, and so on are no more than mere names so far as the object in which we place them is concerned, and that they reside only in the consciousness. Hence, if the living creatures were removed, all these qualities would be wiped away and annihilated. (Drake 1957, p. 274

As we know, in our eyes there are rods and cones. The rods are sensitive to light but not  so much to color. The cones are all about color. We have between 6 and 7 million of them and they are categorized as blue, green and red. I grew up with a brother who was very color blind. His "cones" were somehow genetically not up to par. It was just another thing that made me feel like men were indeed from Mars.

Although, from what I know about most color blindness, it is passed down by the mother, who is a carrier, to the male child. The cones that perceived red and green are usually most effected in color blindness and that was certainly what my brother had difficulty with. I would say Ed's color blindness is to a much lesser degree than my brother's is. For the most part, Ed is pretty good about knowing red from green, unless the shades are really dark.

So, it's all very interesting, these theories about color and whether we "see" the same thing when we look at a tomato. Or a particular golf outfit.

But solving this problem won't solve how our husbands pick out their clothes. I'm not totally convinced their choices have anything to do with color blindness so much as taste, but that doesn't sound very nice, really.

When I was telling my gal pals about Ed's question before golf yesterday, we all decided our hubbies could use some help in choosing their outfits. We decided we needed some sort of Garanimals for our menfolk.

But the suggestion was we'd call them Grampanimals or Manimals instead. And instead of matching giraffes with giraffes and hippos with hippos, we could use burgers and pizza. Maybe Sports team logos would work, too. Or brunettes and blondes. Or cars...The possibilities are endless! I think we might have to put a call into "Shark Tank".
Click Here for a link to Shark Tank

Of course we'd end up sewing in all those tags ourselves, so, maybe not. Maybe we will just keep letting our men, with their faulty cones, continue to come up with new and fascinating combinations. After all, we gals have to have something to talk about!

Have a great day!

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