Gray Days Are Still Good Ones

by Jessica Roth (Univ. Mount Union)

First Place

“What’s your favorite color?” This is an innocent enough question, right? It’s not difficult, there’s no wrong answer, and you don’t have to worry about offending anyone. They’re just colors, they saturate everything, and are seemingly unimportant; unless they’re flashy or clashy, then we notice them. At least, that’s what I hear.

Crap, I’m going to be late.

As I brush my teeth, my thoughts drift. I’m eleven again, and my eye doctor is babbling quickly about how it’s “really cool” that I’m colorblind. Reds and greens, can’t see them. The rest of the spectrum is a sea of gray, unless it’s a huge block of one color, which is easier to distinguish. It is crazy rare to find a girl that not only carries the gene, but is actually affected by it. Translation: your body is as weird as you are. Whatever, at least there’s something unique about me. When you’re eleven, colors don’t mean anything. I rinse and spit, abruptly squashing the memory back into my mental vault.

Breakfast time. There’s a reason why girls shouldn’t be colorblind. I mean, yeah, it still sucks for a colorblind guy, but at least no one cares if he doesn’t match. And high school is all about picking people apart, especially with girls. Maybe not all of the time, but it comes up pretty frequently. That dress does NOT go with those shoes. I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing that outfit. She looks terrible, wearing a pink shirt and red jacket. Babe, I need you to tell me which tie matches your dress for prom. Suddenly, colors are important. Well, damn.

“HURRY UP, JACKWAGON!” I yell. “If we’re late, it’s your fault!” I want to leave his pokey butt here, but I’m Jack’s chauffer until next month, when he will finally, hopefully, get his license. I run downstairs, my eyes scanning the house.

Crap, mom already left. I was going to have her check my outfit, I think it matches. Light­wash Vigoss jeans, navy blue shirt with gray writing and paint splatters, and my gray shoes with blue accents. My favorite, I’ve had them for about 4 years, and they fit my long, skinny feet perfectly. This is a rarity for me, finding shoes that fit my size­nine left foot and size- eight right foot simultaneously. Oh, shoes. I just love them. Another thing I can’t buy without help. I mean, my matching skills aren’t the worst, which I think is pretty funny. The colorblind girl isn’t the worst at matching, ha! But my guess­and­check method doesn’t always work.

I start my birthday present, a gray Ford Mustang. That’s funny too, my parents buying their colorblind daughter a gray car. If they’d gotten any other color, it still would’ve been gray to me. I’m sure they did it on purpose. Dad likes to have little jokes that go with his gifts.

Jack slides in and I press the gas, heading down the familiar roads to school. I brake at the only stoplight in town, it’s a Top­light, so I wait. Bottom­light flashes and holds, I ease forward and turn right, then pull into my spot and park swiftly. I run into the school, narrowly avoiding being late, and the first half of my day gone just as quickly.

I go through the lunch line with my friends. I look at my milk. White milk again, ugh. I guess I wasn’t paying attention while I talked to Amy and picked up the blue carton of white milk instead of the brown chocolate milk carton. She had been asking about guess­and­check, my method of figuring out what colors are in front of me. “What color is my shirt?” is a question I get asked a lot, so I just started comparing the inquirer’s shirt color to things that I knew the relative grayness (color?) of. For example, stop sign gray is similar, but not identical to, Ohio State gray (which I’m told is called “scarlet”). The comparisons help to assuage their curiosity, ending the game before I’ve had to incorrectly guess 40 people’s shirt colors. This conversation always ends with an exclamation like “Wow that’s amazing that you figured out the color of my shirt!” To which I usually smile and reply, “I’m colorblind, not disabled.”

As I sit in sixth period after lunch, waiting for class to start, my mind returns to last weekend’s Presidential Scholarship Competition. I hope I win; Bluffton University is my favorite college. I didn’t know there would be a presentation before the essay though. It was all charts and graphs, conveniently color­coded for everyone’s easy understanding. Well, almost. Personally, I spent that hour clinging to every word the orator said, knowing that the graph squiggles and pie charts were of no help to me.

The last bell of the day rings, and I race off. I’m at the stop light again; it’s a Middle- light. I accelerate and make it through. I pull into the parking lot of the town’s lone fast food joint, Subway. I’ve been working here for about 5 months and I love it. My boss says hi as I walk in, asks me if I noticed which one of his eight Mustangs he drove today. I guess the silver 2007. I’m wrong, of course. It’s his 2005 Windveil Blue Ford Mustang, a light blue car with the same body style as the ’07. At least I was close this time.

I take my place in the make­line. I’m on veggies and sauces today, my least favorite mostly because I have to memorize the order of all of it. The veggies aren’t awful, the shapes are different. But the sauces are color­coded on top, and I can’t use that system, so I either memorize every sauce’s place or I deal with grumpy customers who wonder why I have to read every single sauce label before I find their Light Mayonnaise.

The hours whisk by and then it’s closing time. I change out of my grubby work uniform and back into my earlier outfit. I shut off the lights and lock up. Four miles later, I pull into the driveway of our farm and let out a sigh of relief. My long day is finally over. Smiling, I swing the front door open and look down at my dog, Lilly. She’s wagging her tail, waiting for me to give her some love. I’m rubbing her favorite spot behind her ears when Mom walks into the living room, surveys my outfit, and says, “Ummm, Jess? You do know those shoes are brown, right?”