I think in my past I have associated with genius.
In a time long ago the three of us would hang out and simply think. We were an amateur think-tank. During our gatherings a good mental work-out was received by all. Our creativity would be fired up and our imaginations stretched to the limits. Topics could range from anything like what to do next Saturday to the possibility of time travel and there was no telling where our thoughts would take us.
After a period of going our own separate ways to separate places, following separate goals, the three of us reunited in 1993 and for the first time in five years we challenged each other to think. As we sat around dusty rose tables under golden arches, it was like we had never been apart.
Gayle was always the dreamer of the group. She was the one to always come up with the ideas no one else considered. Recently, I mentioned to her, “I always appreciated your imagination, and the lack of fear, or common sense, you had to share it with the rest of us.” More then once that freedom to express what was on her mind caused the rest of us to look, blink, scratch our heads and say, “Wha?” (We would often leave the letter T of the end of the word ‘what’ when bewildered.) She would then tell us again what she was thinking, leaving us with no choice but to consider what she had brought up.
Mike on the other hand was our trio’s scoffer. Whenever Gayle would come up with an idea, Mike’s response would always be to say, “Yeah, right…” The word right was always drawled out just long enough and soaked with just the right amount of sarcasm, that left no doubt that even though he was saying the word right, he totally meant, you were so wrong. This negativity may cause you to assume that Mike was devoid of imagination and creativity but I disagree. I believe his negative wit was a simple ploy to hide the genius that stormed around in that man’s head. His negative comments always caused us to stop and ponder. Mike was probably right, that unbelievable thought Gayle had could not possibly work.
That left me in the middle. The peace-maker.
The spark of Gayle’s idea and the criticisms of Mike’s observations would combine in a way to kick-start my brain to ask, “why not?” I know what Gayle wants to achieve. I also understand Mike’s reasoning for why it can’t be done. So to me it becomes a puzzle needing to be solved. How do we find our way from point A – the place where we sit in McDonalds, to point Z – the implementation of Gayle’s idea, the whole time avoiding points B to Y-all the reason Mike says it can’t be done.
The topic our think tank decided to ponder that night in 1993 was, “Invent something that hadn’t been invented.
Gayle wanted to invent clothes that could change colours.
Mike wanted to invent a button you pull instead of push. His idea was immediately tossed aside as foolishness. At that moment, little did we realize the genius that man’s sarcasm was hiding.
“Make a shirt that could change colour when you push a button,” Gayle demonstrated by pushing an imaginary button on her left collarbone.
Mike shrugged, “Why not just buy 20 different colour shirts?”
The practical uses for such a colour changing shirt were staggering. First off, imagine all of the closet space that could be saved if you only needed to hang one shirt.
Then, imagine it’s a first date and you are trying to make that first impression count with that special someone. You learn their favourite colour is blue and your shirt is burnt almond. Touch your collarbone and with a simple push of the button, your shirt becomes the desired blue and your second date is all but assured.
Imagine still, the TV weather person is kidnapped by plant rights activists and you are called upon to the give the weather forecast during this time of crisis. Unfortunately, you find yourself wearing a green shirt as you stand in front of the news studio’s green screen. Not wanting a low pressure system to inhabit the place your torso should be you push the button at your collarbone and change your shirt to purple, and now it no longer looks like the weather forecaster is just a floating head with disconnected legs.
Once more, imagine you are strolling down the sidewalk trying not to step on the cracks when you glance up and find yourself the target of a huge bull that just escaped from a nearby bullfighting ring. The snorting beast is incensed to rage because of the red shirt you are wearing. With adrenaline induced speed you slap at the button over your collarbone and the red in your shirt vanishes into a calming green that reminds the monstrous bovine of the fields it once frolicked in as a baby bull calf allowing you to lead the now calm cow back to the bullfighting arena by the ring in its nose. The matadore growing more jealous of you as the crowds in the stands shout, “Ole!” and reign red roses down on you. (Unfortunately, enraging the bull again.)
Imagine darkly, if you dare, that you become rogue, fleeing the scene of a crime perpetrated by your very own hands. Pursuit ensues by constables following the description given them by witnesses to your act of perfidy. Wearing a lemon yellow shirt you push the collarbone button changing it to hot pink, and the unsuspecting officers rush on past you. Years later they are still hunting the criminal in lemon yellow as you grow old, stretched out in a Caribbean beach chair under the sun, sipping drink from a glass decorated with a tiny umbrella. The smell of coconut sunblock filling your nose
Yes the practical applications, moral or otherwise, for a push button colour changing shirt are innumerable.
Now how to make it work? Fibre optics! Strands of fibre optic glass spun fine as thread, woven into a cloth and fashioned into a garment. The end of the fibre would plug into a small light box clipped to your belt. This box would have three bulb, one red, one blue and one green. Dimmer switches would allow 16 steps of intensity for each of the three colour of light resulting in a total of 4096 combinations of colour.
A single garment, if worn a different colour each day could be worn for over 13 years before anyone would even notice you had the same colour on twice, provided you use deodorant. And since the whole thing is spun from glass it is a cinch to clean; simply spray with Windex and wipe down.
Two problems arose with our concept. The first would be for those who are indecisive and can’t decide what colour to wear. They could spend hours standing in front of the mirror pushing the button on there shirt over and over trying to settle on the colour. The resulting bruise and sore spot on their chest could be a deterrent for people wanting to wear the colour changing top. The second problem; what happens if you’re in a crowded place and get jostled or bumped and someone accidentally strike the control button. At best, you end up no longer colour-coordinated; at worse it shuts off the shirt completely and when the colour vanishes from the fibres, the glass strings become transparent, leaving you in a state of public nudity. These were two problems that had to be addressed before we could pursue a patent for our shirt of the future.
It was then that Mike addressed both problems. Then he signed, sealed and delivered the answer we needed to overcome the obstacles for our coloured shifting shirts. “I told you at the beginning, but you wouldn’t listen to me. We need a button you pull instead of push!”
The man is a genius.
And just in case you are curious as to what this think tank of ours would decide to do on a Saturday? Check out the picture below.