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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Can you see me? I'm here in the darkness. (Part 1)

“Hold on to the shoulder of the person standing in front of you. Okay. Everyone ready to experience the Blind Café?”  The woman at the front of the line leading us into the darkness has an advantage.  An advantage that normally, in the sighted world she lives in, is a disadvantage. The woman in the black dress, holding a long white cane…is blind.

I quickly introduce myself to the woman in front of me and hold tightly to her slim shoulder.

The line begins to move.  I walk behind a heavy white curtain and am immediately plunged into pitch blackness.  As I took my first blind steps into the café my heart started pounding in my chest.  I didn’t know where I was and I didn’t know where I was going. I simply had to trust the woman in front of me and hope that I didn’t walk into anything or fall over.

“Watch your head!” the woman in front of me suddenly shouts.

“What? Where?” I am ducking my head and swerving to avoid an unseen attacker.

“Left? Right? Where is it? What am I watching out for?” 

No details are given.  Those were the beginning moments that made me acutely aware of the importance of descriptive details when speaking to Oli about her surroundings.

We all follow in line until we reach our table.  Our blind waiter begins to help each of us find our seat.  We were told that our food would already be waiting for us on the table.  I cautiously sit down and move my hands across the table. 

What am I touching? 

I have no idea. 

There’s some squishy stuff to my left at 10 o’clock.  There is a bowl of little balls and a short, fat, cone shaped object beneath the squishy stuff.  The plate in front of me has a large, papery thing on it with a stick poking out of its center. Above that is more wet squishy stuff on little flat circles.  Someone at my table said that there was bread in the middle of the table.  I slowly reach my hand out and above my plate.  I find more little balls.  I move to the right.  What is this? It’s slimy and wet.  Now my fingers are dripping with a slimy oily substance.  Where is my napkin? Did they give us napkins?  Do we have utensils?

I search to the right of my plate and thankfully find my napkin.  I also find a plastic fork.  I contemplate using my fork to try and stab at some of my food and then quickly realize how pointless that seems.  It will be way more efficient to use my fingers. Beside how will I know what I am eating unless I actually pick it up with my fingers?   I find the bowl of little balls again and search for the cone shaped thing.  I find it and decide to pick it up and smell it. My senses should be enhanced right? Since my vision is gone. Wrong. Total myth!  I can’t smell it at all.  It smells like something, but I have no idea what? It smells like my fingers and whatever that slimy stuff was.

After touching everything on my plate and probably everything on my neighbor’s plate too, I couldn’t tell where my food stopped and hers started, I decided to taste something.  I find the squishy stuff on the flat circles and pick one up.  I identified the circles to be crackers.  I could feel the salt and circles.  I raise it to my lips and take an apprehensive bite.  Olives!  Aaaccckkkk!! I HATE olives. The squishy stuff was some kind of spread. I don’t know what else was in it, but I could taste olives.  I put the cracker down.  Do I have a drink somewhere around here to wash the nasty olive taste from my mouth?  I feel my way a little farther to my left, past my plate.  I find a water bottle.  Of course, I didn’t know it was water until I took a sip. 

Moving on.

I’m really getting brave with my hands now.  I find the bowl of balls again.  I pick one up and pop it in my mouth.  A grape. Yay! Win! 

I pick up another ball. I think it’s another grape.  Wrong.  Olive!  What-Is-With-The-OLIVES!!  Tricky, sneaky, blind café. 

FYI. An olive feels like a grape.

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