Y’all, this is another one of those situations in which I am unsure how much stroppiness is warranted. The last time I asked for your opinion was not long ago, regarding gay boys and groping, but I have to say this strikes a different level of annoyance. Here’s how it started: I was on the phone with my boyfriend, and we were talking about hypothetical babies, as you sometimes do, sort of as a practice run . You know what I mean: You sling jokingly awful names at each other (“let’s call a boy Hagar and a girl Millicent”) and rib each other on the worst characteristics with which we’ll endanger our future offspring (“let’s hope they avoid your jug-ears and my manic-depression,” or whatever).
Anyway, this good-hearted ribbing is going very well, until I ask him about his parents’ coloring. I’ve met them a couple times, but couldn’t pin down their natural hair and eye color, especially as they’re graying a bit. My own mother, a brown-eyed brunette, told me how surprised she was to have a blonde, blue-eyed baby, so I was drawing on my fragmented recollection of junior high biology to guess what my own spawn would look like if I chose to reproduce with the current boy (who has thick black hair, a red beard when he grows it, and green eyes). Seriously, I recall that his father has brown eyes and his mother greeny-blue, but it seemed reasonable to ask the guy who has known them for, oh, nearly 30 years. Could he hazard a guess? Nerp.
I found this really, really odd. Forget celebrities and casual acquaintances: I reckon I could tell you the eye color of everyone in my office because I’m forced to look at them all day, and probably have a 90-100% chance of accuracy. This is not something you necessarily notice immediately about someone or would recall from a casual relationship, but I think it’s fair to say that you pick it up and assimilate it over repeated exposure.
Which is why it was a little distressing to me when I asked him, “Well, what color eyes do I have?” There was a long pause. “Brown,” I finally supplied, expecting him to laugh and say, “Silly, I know they’re blue.” This did not happen. Instead, he sort of chuckled and said, “Oh, I knew that.”
Cue long pause on my end. There was no joke forthcoming. My boyfriend of a year thinks I have brown, or blue, or green, or lavender, or yellow eyes. I guess, given that he doesn’t know the eye colors of his own family, I shouldn’t be as offended as I am, but I sort of think, how many fucking tables have we sat across from each other ostensibly gazing into one another’s eyes? While my eyes are not my absolute best feature, I daresay I’ve gotten a number of compliments on them over the years, often from complete strangers, who would easily identify my eyes as blue. Unlike my boyfriend, who couldn’t even say for sure if they have polka-dots.
I am annoyed. “It’s just your eyes,” he says, “it’s not a big deal.” Maybe not in the grand scheme, but we’ve all heard this eyes-as-windows-to-the-soul business, and the first time I ever saw him, his eyes were one of the things that struck me about him. He has numerous pictures of me solo as well as us together, in which I am gazing at the camera with obviously blue eyes.
I asked him what color his own eyes were, and he went to the bathroom mirror to look. “I think they’re green-grey,” he said, which is pretty much accurate and may have blown my color-blind theory out of the water (I was really pushing that theory too, damn). In a way, he’s right: Eye color doesn’t matter. But because I feel like it’s a intrinsic part of my coloring, and therefore my overall presentation, I’m irritated that he doesn’t know this very basic thing about me. Am I overreacting?