by Jacqueline Lee Bridges
As a child, you can change your color as often as you'd like. If you fancy pink, you take the pink pill. The pretty girls always choose pink. For Independence Day, most of us take the green pill. It's the only time we have green skin. It doesn't wear well, uneven around the knees and ankles, but it's how we celebrate. Chromos is a free country, but it's not without its rules and regulations. For starters, upon turning twelve we're directed to pick a color for life. If you select pink skin, you will have pink skin, forever. There's no changing our minds after that--something to do with melatonin levels and increased cancer risks.
On the eve of my twelfth birthday, mother took me to see my favorite pop star. Lady Lemon packed the Metro, with rows and rows of knotty, yellow knees and sugar sticky fingers. It was decided then, I would be yellow for life. Mother had a long talk with me after that.
Mother's skin was a soft shade of violet. Father's was different. He had a hazy brown hue, but the people called it gold, or golden, depending on their age. Mother pointed out that yellows were often plagued with mental illness and had the highest suicide rate among colors. Blues on the other hand, were overrepresented in the medical field. My mother quoted every statistic she knew, even if they weren't true, and of course I believed them all.
The first few years were the hardest, growing accustomed to one color, matching all my outfits to one color, applying my makeup to one color, and most specially, being a boring shade of brown, even if it was called gold. I always felt I'd made the wrong choice, choosing my head over my heart, but it turned out mother was right. After high school, I got into a very good college, made up of other golds, a handful of reds and blues, and a smaller group of grays.
After college I landed a great job in the financial district, followed by a cute apartment in an up-and-coming neighborhood (more and more golds were moving in), and I married an anesthesiologist with the most gorgeous shade of blue.