I sat down to lunch the other day and in walked a woman who is unforgettable. Last year, we happened upon each other in the subway and she basically demanded that I help her navigate the stairs. I always help a blind person when they ask or just seem to need help. She was very dominating, telling me exactly where to put my arm, how fast or slow to walk, bossing me the entire time. It was awesome.
I decided that if I were blind, I would be the same way.
This was my second sighting of her. The manager of the restaurant walked her back to a table and she ordered the manager to read her the soup menu.
“But, I don’t eat any red soups, or red meat.”
The manager began reading the list and she would interrupt after almost every one:
“That’s too spicy.”
“But that’s red….it has red meat.”
“Oh, and I don’t do bacon either.”
After setting such parameters, the list became quite short, and she asked: “That’s it?”
She then asked for 5 different samples. The manager gladly obliged, ladling her the samples and bringing them back to the table for her to try. When the manager stepped away I observed my feisty blind friend more closely. I noticed that she had beautifully painted red nails and jewelry on her wrists and fingers. Of course it got me thinking about how this adds to her identity even though she can’t see it.
I paint my face, costume my frame and adorn my appendages every day, and I don’t see it either, only if I pay attention to my reflection if I happen to pass a mirror. Why shouldn’t she do the same thing?
Of course I started wondering about her story. Had she always been blind? Does she always come to this restaurant? It was nowhere near the last time I saw her. Would it be easier to be blind in a city or the suburbs or somewhere else? I considered going over and sitting with her to have lunch. I wondered what she would picture when she heard my voice. Would she know how old I was? Would she remember me from that brief encounter months ago? I was short on time, so I just smiled and watched her and took her picture. I made sure I got the red nails.