Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Blue Man

Someone I know recently shared a strange encounter he had at a Walmart in Texas (I know, I know...narrow it down, right?) that left him a bit bewildered and somewhat unsettled.

An elderly man in sunglasses spotted him from across the crowded store, and seeing him leaving, somehow managed to beat him outside where he cornered my friend and began speaking to him as if the two had been long time pals. The elderly man proceeded to harangue him on myriad topics, including politics. However, the man seemed to have no specific information upon which to talk, forming instead a Dadaist rant that left my friend unnerved. To be fair, much of his discomfort stemmed from the fact the old stranger was... Well, he was blue. His skin was blue.

After several minutes of this rambling conversation, my friend managed to extricate himself from the situation and the elderly blue gentleman drove off in his Cadillac.

So my friend asks me if I had ever heard of people with blue skin. As it turns out, I have.

Methemoglobinemia is a rare condition (often genetic) that occurs when there is too much methemoglobin in the blood, a situation that can leave the skin with a bluish cast. On a fairly pale skinned individual, this would likely present as a striking blue shade.

A 19th Century Kentucky family, known as the "Blue Fugates" were a famous example of this oft-heriditary condition. And in 1942, the "Blue Men of Lurgan" were treated by Irish doctor, James Deeny.

Still, this doesn't explain the other weird aspects of my friends own blue man encounter that left him disturbed.

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