Blindness Can Be Funny

I don’t know about you, but I’m in need of some serious levity. And, yes, that is an oxymoron, but you get the idea. This month? The things that happen only because I’m blind.

My grandparent’s home is on a lake and as a child, I spent a good portion of my summers there with my sisters and cousins. Except for my grandmother, everyone water-skied. Because of my various reconstructive surgeries, I was forced to wait until the ripe age of eight to learn. To give you perspective, I believe that one cousin was maybe four when she tried it.

For any of you not familiar with the sport, beginners usually learn from the water, squatting in position using the pull of the boat to get up. Only experts stand upright on the dock and jump into the water. Intermediates sit on the edge of the dock and go from there. I will never progress past intermediate.

On my maiden voyage, I went through the routine familiar from enviously watching others do it: I put on my life-vest, wedged my feet into skis, and slid off the dock into the water. I was taught how to crouch so my skis were at an incline with the water’s surface, tips pointed upward legs bent so my backside more or less rested on the skis. Then, they gave me a handle attached to the rope and put enough tension on it so I didn’t lose my careful positioning. Someone on the boat then yelled, “Hit it!” and we took off.

I let the boat pull me up, just as instructed. Usually, people fall multiple times before reaching this point, so I was very pleased as the boat towed me in a circle. When we neared the dock, the boat honked and I let go sailing over the water toward shore, very proud of myself.

“Jen, didn’t you hear us?” everyone on the dock asked.

“No.”

“You needed to stand up!”

“What?”

“You don’t go around squatting like that. You stand.”

“Oh.”

I thought being pulled up by the boat meant pulled into a squatting position when the actual objective is standing. Once I tried standing, I fell tons. Actually, I still do, thus the never progressing past intermediate thing.

The above happened simply because I didn’t understand a key part of the activity. At other times, my blindness combines with my “I must be right” attitude in amusing ways.

After I developed multiple food intolerances, by necessity I learned how to cook. At the time, the people I knew didn’t cook much, so I was impressive in comparison. One friend who stayed with me loved my curried sweet potatoes, so while I was making dinner, I told her the recipe and she wrote it down. One of the ingredients is curry powder, but that can be a widely variable spice from brand to brand and source to source. I reached for the type I was using and suggested she look at the ingredients in order to find an equivalent version.

“Jen, she said, this isn’t curry.”

“Yes it is,” I replied.

“No, it’s Cajon seasoning.”

“No, the Braille right here says curry.”

“And yet the print says Cajon.”

Ooops. Now we call them Cajon sweet potatoes. They are still tasty.

When you think about it, it is rather ridiculous that I discount what eyes perceive to the point that I assume the other person is wrong. Here’s one final instance.

I was flopped across my couch on my stomach, head pillowed on my arms while my friend occupied the comfy blue chair. At some point in our conversation, she glanced over at the end-table and said, “Ryan’s totally hot.”

“Huh?”

“This musician on the Ryanhood CD is hot.”

“No, you mean Cameron. The group is Ryan Green and Cameron Hood.”

“No, I mean Ryan.”

“Trust me. Cameron’s the hot one.”

“He’s labeled Ryan on the CD.”

“Oh.”

From multiple Ryanhood concerts, I had a very vivid impression of both musicians. I took this as a better indication of physical attractiveness than the observations of a sighted person who could actually see the pictures. This is akin to the times when I find out things about my friend’s appearance, like their hair color. If it doesn’t fit the mental image my mind has constructed of the person, I am totally disconcerted.

I suppose I have just made an excellent argument for me being convinced of my rightness beyond all reason. Somebody will use it against me sooner or later. That really shouldn’t be allowed – a violation of the fair fight rules. “Thou shalt not use a blog entry to disprove its author.”

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About Jen

After acquiring a degree from Vassar College in psychology, I moved to Western Mass where I ran a peer mentoring network for disabled college students as well as activism and organizing around disability issues. I also conducted research on disabled women’s body image. An Upstate New York native, I eventually followed my heliotropic nature to the sun of Southern California. I divide my time between writing (disability fiction and essays) along with moderating San Diego Bisexual Forum which is one of the oldest groups of its kind in the country. In my off hours I can often be found in my neighborhood live music venue enjoying our local talent.

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