I took an online test today and found I’m not colorblind. So how come my daughters laugh when I show up in my favorite green tweed jacket and the neato orange tie someone gave me last Christmas? That color combo works for pumpkins doesn’t it?

I’ve recently learned when it comes to color perception, we humans, even without colorblindness, are handicapped compared to many other earthlings. Some tropical fish and birds live in a much more technicolor world than we do and there are reptiles with color receptors that far outnumber ours. So it must be a real downer to be colorblind as well and perceiving even less of the world’s brilliant rainbows, flowers, fireworks and pizzas.

However we’re better off than our keen-smelling dogs who can only distinguish blue, green and yellow and will probably never be eligible for driver’s licenses, but I don’t think they care. My dogs have always preferred the rear car seat and an open window where, with their ears flapping in the wind, they can bark colorful insults and challenges to outraged pitbulls and tomcats along the way from the safety of their chauffered dogmobile.

And it must be the waving of the toreador’s cape that angers the bull because he doesn’t see red any better than Fido. Wikipedia reports the ability of us primates to see red was once a vital talent to identify edibles in the forest. It also helps us now to see when we have to apply bandages and when not to wear orange ties.

Colorblindness is quite common among humans. It affects one in 12 men and suprisingly, only one in 200 women. That might explain the laughter of our high school girlfriends when we showed up for dates dressed, as we thought, to the nines, but actuallly, to the giggles.

The typical colorblind human has a reduced sensitivity to red or green or blue. In very rare cases, something like one in 20,000, the poor victim lives in a black and white world with no color at all. If you’re ever at a patriotic rally and the fellow next to you sings, “Three cheers for the gray, white and dark gray,” you’ll know you’ve encountered one of these rare unfortunate individuals.

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