I have an imaginary adopted daughter from Tibet. Actually, she isn't imaginary; she is real-only the adopted aspect is imaginary. While planning for a trip to Tibet several years ago, I got it into my head that returning home with a little adopted girl would be a great idea. Most people who visit that mystical and snow-capped Himalayan country would be content with a prayer wheel or a Buddhist mandala. I broached the subject of adopting a little girl with my wife on many occasions prior to our trip. Each time, she stone-walled me. Before we took off, I again mused openly about our little girl. Sternly, she replied, "Our kids are out of college and on their own, what would possess you to want to start all over again? You are thirty-something twice over. What's gotten into you?"

I calmly retorted, "Well, I just think that it would be nice, and besides, I am a young thirty-something twice over. And besides, we could call her, Sara." I need not inform you that after a month of traveling, we returned to America with the mandatory prayer wheel and mandala, but no Sara-even though we met the cutest little Sara in Lhasa. She did not return with us.

I didn't say much about not realizing my adoption fantasy until the following Mother's Day. I bought my wife a gift and signed the accompanying card, "Sara." I even printed her name the way a young child from another country would write. I thought that guilt might work. Needless to say, it didn't. However, the next month, I got a gift and a card from Sara-my wife's idea of being funny. That tradition of gift giving has continued for three years.

This past Father's Day, Sara gave me a beautiful purple shirt. Somehow, she knew that purples and pinks for men were in style here in America. Fortunately for me, I was glad that I got in near the beginning of this color trend. Left to my own devices, I would be looking for a purple shirt at the end of the trend as I did with leisure suits. (They were out of style when I finally decided to buy one.)

The purple shirt would help me explore the feminine side of my personality. One morning after my wife went to work, I started my gender-bending exploration. I bravely put on Sara's Father's Day gift-my freshly ironed purple dress shirt. As I gazed into the mirror admiringly, I was surprised that I felt so comfortable wearing purple. As I took in my reflected image of me in my new and cutting-edge purple shirt, I mused over how quickly that I adjusted to that color. It wasn't long before I was wondering why it was such a big deal-wearing a color that traditionally is found in a female's wardrobe.

Having stared into the mirror long enough, I went to the kitchen, made myself an amaretto latte, and went to my computer to muse more over the first successful steps in my gender-bender journey. As my computer booted up, I questioned our sexual stereotypes. Where is it written that colors are sex-typed? What authority spread out their box of crayons and said, "These colors are for boys and these colors are for girls."?

I also wondered whether people in other countries like Tibet have the same gender-based colors that we do or whether we arbitrarily selected them within our culture. As I poured over this issue on my computer, I realized that I need to refill my amaretto latte. Then it came to me. Perhaps, if Sara were to come to the States, I could do further research on this subject. Returning to my office, I called my wife at work and said, "Ann, I have an idea. I'm working on this article about gender-bending and my purple shirt. I want to determine the possible cultural bias that various societies might construct relating to sex-based color choices. It would be helpful if Sara could come to the States to find out how Tibetans view this issue."

My wife merely retorted, "You need to concentrate on your lesson plans for your classes and set aside your gender-bender research for awhile." I took her comment as non-supportive, but she did leave the door open for discussing the matter in the future with her "for awhile" comment. Perhaps, I should repaint the guest room, but what color would Sara like?