Detroit, Michigan, 2011
Written by a Pennsylvanian
“Who’s your tiger?”
“Uh, that would be … Tony the Tiger?” After all, cornflakes are ggggrrreaaattt!
He snorted. Well, what did he expect me to say?
I looked perplexed. Wrinkled my nose. Waited.
With exaggerated patience, he explained. Something about how the Detroit Tigers had an ad, or an interview, and the question from the sportscaster was “Who’s your tiger?” Fans went on to name their favorite player.
Oh. Who knew?
“Well, ask me about anything in Spanish, I can tell you–”
“Say, ‘Miguel Cabrera.’ ” he interrupted.
“Miguel Cabrera,” I said with perfect Spanish intonation.
He mimicked my Spanish in a playful voice. I frowned. Poked him in the ribs.
A little respect here.
“Good choice!” Cheryl called out. “Who’s your tiger?”
“Miguel Cabrera!” I shouted.
Ah sports… just getting my toes wet.
An idea came to me when I was planning for his birthday. I’d buy red M&Ms and write a note up about me guessing the colors for his favorite teams, including the Detroit Redwings, a hockey team. I had once called them the Pink Flamingoes when I failed to remember their real name. After that, it had become a joke, as was my ignorance of the key teams and sports he lived and breathed.
So I set off with my brother to look for red M&Ms. We found the section in the party store. Yes. They had green. Blue. Yellow. Even black. I picked up a bag of red ones. “Let’s pay for this,” I said, my mind already on the next item of business.
Later, in the car, I took them out and griped about the outrageous price for a 7 oz bag of all one color.
“They aren’t even a nice bright shade of red like they have in the small packets!”
That’s because they’re not RED. They’re ORANGE.”
“No way,” I bristled, and scrutinized the M&Ms I’d bought. “They do look a little orange.” I admitted.
“Read the back of the bag. It tells you the color right there.”
My jaw dropped down. My joke gift was already backfiring!
“Maybe he won’t notice,” my brother said kindly.
“Of COURSE he’ll notice,” I moaned.
I know color blindness affects those with Retinitis Pigmentosa at some stage. Have I reached this stage already? Is that why I mixed RED up with ORANGE, or had I just been careless?
Regardless of the reason, I was stuck with ORANGE M & Ms instead of RED.
My friend Vicki came up with a plan.
“Can you just play dumb? Pretend to be astounded when he sees they’re orange?”
“Oh Vicki! I’ll never be able to carry it off ,” I giggled.
“Sure you can. Just drop your jaw down and say, ‘ ORANGE! I can’t believe it!’ ”
I planned. I practiced. I even looked in a mirror to catch my best efforts. Yes, I had my jaw-dropping down.
The big birthday moment arrived. My friend picked up my funny gift.
Oh inner actress, wherefore art thou? Time for our performance.
He read the note I taped onto the bag and passed the gift around for all his friends to see.
“Look at you. You even remembered my teams.” He squeezed my hand. The smile lit up his face.
My inner actress and I stared at each other. Our jaws dropped down. For real.
He never even noticed!
Or more likely, he didn’t really LOOK. He assumed I knew my colors.
He probably thought like I did that one learned their colors in pre-school.
That ORANGE and RED look vastly different.
That ORANGE is not some WEIRD SHADE OF RED.
He must have been so touched that it never entered his mind they weren’t RED.
I love that about him.
He looks at the act and not the details.
He looks at the thought behind the gesture.
Oh! That’s why he must think I’m beautiful.
He sees me and not all my imperfections.
I could be ORANGE and he’d see RED.
He might see me but he LOOKS at my heart.
I hope my heart is not pumping out ORANGE blood though.
I’d have to exchange it and where would I go to do that?
“Excuse me, I didn’t read the label. My heart is pumping out ORANGE blood. Can you give me a new one?”
“That depends. Does it work?”
“Well, of course it works fine. But it’s pumping out the wrong color! They’d be saying, ‘Who’s your tiger?’ and I’d be shouting, ‘William Cabrita!’ It just wouldn’t do to have ORANGE blood pumping through my veins, especially during big tournament games. You see my dilemma, don’t you?”
“You mean Miguel Cabrera, don’t you? Yes. I certainly do see your dilemma. However, too much time has gone by to exchange it now. Hmmm. Can you just play dumb and pretend to be astounded when one of those games comes on?”
I would sigh, disappointed. “Oh! I’ll never be able to carry it off!”
“Sure you can. Just drop your jaw down,” and the Customer Service clerk would demonstrate just so…
I would smile. Laugh. Hold my stomach.
Orange blood. Red blood. Orange M&Ms. Red ones.
His eyes. My eyes. None of that matters.
It’s not the details that endear me to him.
It’s my heart. Or maybe…just maybe…
My sense of humor.
One that perfectly matches his own.
So it doesn’t matter that neither of us looks at the details.
That we’re both … COLOR BLIND … so to speak.
One can’t see. The other doesn’t look.
I love us together.
We’re so much fun!
~ ~ ~
Have you ever mistaken one color for another?
… And who’s YOUR tiger?