Wednesday, June 11, 2008

feeling blue?

When I wrote Surviving Serendipity, I imagined a very special group of people for its pages: the Valforte. It is not only their character and personality attributes that make them special; so does their unique blue skin color.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that blue people actually existed outside my imagination. Here are just a few examples of what I’ve learned:

--In 1944, eleven homeless men were found on the streets of New York City, grievously ill, and bright blue. Their strange illness and coloring were later attributed to sodium nitrite (nitrite, not nitrate) poisoning from a local flophouse kitchen. (, “Eleven Blue Men,” by Berton Roueche)

--The Fugates of Troublesome Creek, Kentucky, nicknamed the blue Fugates, were naturally blue, the product of inbreeding which brought a recessive gene, called met-H, to the surface. The gene reduced the oxygen-carrying capacity of arterial blood (the blood your heart pumps to your limbs), giving the blood itself a chocolate color, and giving the skin of Caucasians a bluish cast. One of the Fugate women was said to have “lips the color of a bruise.” (, “A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil’s Storehouse of Human Knowledge,” by Cecil Adams)

--Paul Karason, of Madera, California, began turning blue a decade ago when he began ingesting and treating his skin with a mixture of colloidal silver, which caused a condition called argyria, a permanent but harmless condition in which a bluish or grayish cast appears on the skin. Now he looks like a blue Santa Claus. (, “The True Blue Story of Paul Karason,” by Linda Dahlstrom, and, “Public Health Statement for Silver,” distributed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.)

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