A Sight For Sore Eyes
The Lighter Side to Facing Vision Loss
A QUIET EVENING OUT
“A church café is a place to socialize and listen to music, but, of course, without alcohol,” my friend, Vicki, explained.
I imagined milling around a dark room, trying to hear a loud energetic praise and worship band, and meeting new people. Tackling any one of these activities by itself would be do-able but throwing them all together like dice on the table could be chancy!
But I went for it–armed with my tools. To combat the darkness, I had my white cane. To socialize in the midst of loud music, I wore my hearing aids. To offset my shyness, I brought my smile.
Please God, don’t let any weird accidents happen. And by that I mean, stop me from siting on someone else’s lap in the dark! And let me hear over the music, okay?
Sellah, that night’s praise and worship band, was already playing when we walked into the dark room. “…singing al-le-luu-jah, Alelujah, Praise His name…”
Vicki’s mouth was moving but the music was too loud to hear and it was too dark to read her lips. She gestured that we needed food and a beverage so I trailed her with my cane in the dim light.
Afterward, seated in some fold-up chairs, we waited for a table to open up. A few minutes later, Vicki whispered something. I was trying to decipher her message when she pulled my arm. “They’ve cleared that table. Let’s grab it!”
The move required the skills of a trapeze artist or at least a tight-rope walker: someone with balance and finesse. Not me! I attempted to carry my jacket, purse, pie and hot coffee, all while maneuvering my cane. My purse, which dangled from my elbow, kept swinging into my pie. This wouldn’t do at all. I finally decided to carry my pie and coffee first, then retrieve my bag, cane and jacket.
I was halfway to the table when–Bam! I collided with a bearded man. My pie slammed to the floor and he stepped right in it. Splat! The coffee splashed out of my cup, into the air, on me and worse, on him.
Hot coffee! Hot! Hot! Hot! I plucked my sparking black t-shirt away from my belly to save my skin and before I could sensor my language, a mild curse escaped my lips. I clamped my hand over my mouth. Where did that come from?
The lights immediately came on and the band stopped playing. My jaw dropped. Perhaps the timing was a coincidence but I remember thinking, it was a little too close for comfort!
I felt like one of those lost kids K-Mart store managers announce over the PA system in which, for just a second, shoppers all stop what they’re doing and crane their necks to find. Suddenly, suddenly someone screams, “She’s here! She’s here!”
I gulped. My imagination took over and a humorous scene came to mind: my single curse word ricocheting around the room and back to me again. This would be followed by an explanatory voice, “Lady in black curses in church café. Will the responsible party please pick her up in the front of the room.”
“I don’t know how that hap–” Bearded Man said.
“Oh, that’s because…” I realized that my explanation ‘I couldn’t see,” wouldn’t make sense. The evidence, my white cane, was out of range. It was back on the chair, neatly folded up.
I scanned the room for a life-sized cross to hide behind. None to be found!
The voice of Bearded Man brought me back to the accident at hand. “Are you okay?”
“Hot!” I blurted out. “Did I burn you, too?”
“I’m fine. Fine. Just fine.” I must have given him a skeptical look. “Really, I’m fine. Coffee didn’t even touch me. ” He smoothed his beard. “Let me get you another coffee.”
No, no, no, no, NO! I hate coffee. Look what damage it’s already caused!
I found myself saying, “Yes, please.”
I watched him take a napkin and wipe the remnant of pumpkin pie off the smooth black sole of his shoe. Then he left to pick up my coffee. In a moment he returned, handing the Styrofoam cup to me.
“Oh, thank you,” I mumbled, feeling guilty because the coffee was sure to grow cold. Our transaction complete, Bearded Man left to sit down.
Vicki jabbed me in the side. “That could be your future partner! It happens all the time.”
I rolled my eyes at her. “Sh-h-h.” Then, I threw out my bigger anxiety. “Hey Vicki, did the band actually stop playing back then because of my um, accident.” Naturally, she knew I really meant, because of the swearword that escaped my lips.
“You thought,” she stopped and had a laugh. “that the lights came on because of …” She shook her head, still laughing. “No. The band just finished their set.”
She sounded so certain. I wanted to believe. her.
The music started up and I thought I spied a high school classmate from oh, so many years ago. But it was dark. And, after all, my night vision wasn’t at all reliable so after I brought it up, I promptly forgot it. Not Vicki. At the end of the evening, my very social friend took hold of my wrist. “Come on. We’re going to talk to your classmate.”
“No, uh, no, no-o-o,” I sputtered, terrified of another collision at the speed she was dragging me. “Besides, it’s been a long time.”
Too soon we arrived at his table. Vicki introduced herself. “You remember Amy, don’t you?” she said, conversationally. “She was in your high school class.”
She was not one of the swearing crowd.
He recalled not only my first name but also my last. “Is that you? Sorry, I didn’t see you earlier. I haven’t seen you in years.”
You have to be blind to miss the coffee commotion!
“Well, I kind of blend into the darkness,” I said innocently, sliding my cane behind my back.
“Yeah, you were always a quiet go-along-with-things kind of girl in our school days. You didn’t make much of a racket like some people.” I knew he meant himself. He had been a rabble rouser back in the day.
I’m just a run-of-the-mill quiet gal. In some ways I’d stayed the same. He didn’t need to know how or why I’d changed. And definitely not what he’d missed that evening.
God, sh-h-h. Mum’s the world.