Are You Wearing Mauve for Sciatica or Because You Fail at Fashion?

My friend Sean Taylor wore green yesterday to support the freedom protests in Iran. Upon hearing that, I looked down to see what color I was wearing: Red and white, with beige swishy designs. So I’m apparently not supporting freedom in Iran, but what am I supporting? Heart disease? AIDS? Try head and neck cancer and aplastic anemia.

There are colors for every possible thing you can be for or against. As far as I know the only color not already taken by some sad sack cause or disease is khaki. If it were up to me, I’d make khaki be for Running Out of Sunscreen and Having to Play Indoors.

It’s gotten to be where if you want to support all the causes worth supporting, you’ve got to have a closet full of rainbow colored clothes, ribbons and rubber bracelets - but don’t actually wear rainbow, unless you’re all about gay rights, same sex marriage and autism.

You know how all this started? With a Tony Orlando and Dawn song. Sometime in the ‘70s, we decided to take Tony’s advice and tie a yellow ribbon around an old oak tree to support soldiers coming home. I’m not clear on how we derived that from a song about a convict being released from prison and wondering whether his wife would take him back after being gone so long. It would seem to me that if you’re a soldier you should be pretty sure your wife will take you back. Unless you committed a war crime of some sort, or slept with icky prostitutes. But I think that stopped after Viet Nam.

But the original song was about a prisoner, not a soldier. We don’t know why he was in prison or how long he was in for. But doesn’t it seem odd that the wife never mentioned whether or not he was welcome in the house after his release? It never came up during one of the visits behind the Plexiglas? It sounds to me like she never even visited him at all. And if that’s the case, then I think even a stupid convicted rapist would figure out that if the old lady wasn’t going to visit him in prison, there probably wouldn’t be a welcome sign in the form of a yellow ribbon on homecoming day.

Are you ready for the list of colors and causes? I had to cut it considerably because I know some of you have Short Attention Span (represented by purple) and Lack of Bladder Control (yellow).

Red ribbons used to mean AIDS, but now support/fight heart disease, substance abuse, MADD, DARE, love, strokes, and Epidermolysis Bullosa.

Orange stands for hunger, leukemia, cultural diversity and racial tolerance, feral cats, motorcyclist safety, support of the Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and North Samaria, deep vein thrombosis, and self injury.

Yellow = Supporting our troops, POWs and basically anyone who is not currently at home, suicide, missing kids, bladder cancer, hope, boycotting Aruba because of that Natalie girl, carbon monoxide poisoning, and four diseases that start with “hydro” that are unpronounceable.

Green: Tourette’s, Save Darfur, neural tube defects, worker and driving safety, depression, bipolar disorder, mental illness, and tissue and organ donation and transplants. And now add to that freedom from corrupt elections in Iran.

(These would be funnier if read aloud.)

Dark blue is asking for trouble. It has way too much on its plate. Dark blue has taken on all the causes that weren’t picked by the other volleyball team captains and has formed a Dark Blue Team of misfits, losers and fat kids: Child abuse prevention, arthritis, free speech, crime victims’ rights, water quality, colon cancer, histiocytosis, domestic violence, water safety, sex trafficking and slavery, Epstein-Barr Virus, education, short bowel syndrome, Myositis, hurricane support, and police officers lost in the line of duty. Just to name a few.

Purple, which you would think would stand for happy teenage girls, Sno-cones and young love, sadly does not. It stands for domestic violence (again), religious tolerance, animal abuse, the victims of 9/11, pancreatic cancer, Pagan pride, children left unattended in cars, Krohn's Disease and colitis, macular degeneration, fibromyalgia, lupus, the homeless, thyroid cancer, ADD, ADHD, and Alzheimer's.

Poor white ribbon. This is just sad. White represents innocence, victims of terrorism, peace, right to life, diabetes, the Holocaust, gay-teen suicide, sexual assault of students, retinal blastoma, adoption, bone disease and bone cancer, and anti-child pornography on the Internet. I think we should add puppies with big sad eyes headed to the gas chamber, too, just to wrap up the package.

Black ribbons are for Amish support, gun control, narcolepsy, POWs and melanoma. What about the plague? If the plague doesn’t have a color, let’s give it black.

(I’m not making any of these up. Not even Amish support. I swear.)

Brown only gets two: Anti-tobacco and colorectal cancer. Now, who picked that last one, a fourth grader? Honestly!

Even lime green has more than brown. They include lymphoma, Lyme disease (get it?), and support for adoptees’ rights to open adoption records that have been sealed.

Teal and turquoise have panic disorders, OCD, all gynecological cancers, food allergies, Native American reparations, and hernias.

(Yeah, definitely said out loud is funnier.)

There are too many to go on, but just a sampling of what’s left: Emerald green = homeopathy awareness; Periwinkle = eating disorders; Lavender = infantile spasms; Orchid = testicular cancer; and Silver = stalking.

As you can see all the main colors are taken. But wait! You can designate a color combination to support your cause. A black and light blue ribbon means you lost a son. Black and pink means a lost daughter. Black and white means - no, not that you lost a pale Swedish child. It stands for Carcinoid Syndrome Cancer and anti-racism.

Orchid + orange = psoriasis. Pink + gold = phyllodes tumors. Lime green + aqua = adult stem cell donors. Pink + teal = hereditary breast cancer, but be careful! Pink and light blue means newborn strep. One shade lighter and you could easily be misunderstood.

Yea ivory-burgundy-ivory striped ribbons! Stop oral, head and neck cancer! And if that’s not good enough to do the trick, head and neck cancer also has red and white ribbons. It shares them with aplastic anemia, but it’s good to cover all bases.

OK, enough. I can’t do this any longer. I feel sick and I’m not sure it’s because I’m imagining symptoms of all these horrific diseases or that I chose to wear stupid red today. Epidermolysis Bullosa . . . what was I thinking?

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