Monday, October 3, 2011

The blind date. Long before the era of the Seeing Eye Cat.

Several years ago a friend of mine got four tickets to the Boston Pops which was pretty cool. He was planning on taking his girlfriend and asked me if I would double date with a coworker of his.

I was living in Alaska at the time and happened to be visiting the family and was staying at the family manse with my folks. If I recall it was just after my dad had died and it was just Mom and I.

Apparently the coworker was new and I think he was just seeing what she was made of.

"Blind date, huh?" I asked. "Do I need a white cane?"

He broke up and his girlfriend, who was standing there, said "That's a great idea! Show up with a white cane and pretend you are blind!"

"Let me borrow one from my neighbor," I said.

When my mother saw me in the sunglasses carrying the white cane I had borrowed she asked what I was doing. I told her I had a blind date that night. She laughed, and shook her head. "Jiminy Cricket!" she said.

The evil conspiracy was planned and off we went.

I went to the door led by my buddy to pick up my date and she seemed surprised to see me in sunglasses and a cane but I'll admit she recovered pretty fast. Still, the look she gave my buddy told me an awful lot about her. She was a severe bitch in camoflauge.

I took her arm and she led me back to the car and we got into the back seat and my friend drove us to the Pops. The seats were great, on the champagne esplinade and we ordered a couple of bottles of champagne, none of which I partook of in compliance of our evil plot. The girls started swilling the stuff down and I guess by the time the show was over and it was time for us to hit the road, they were giddy.

The small talk I made with my date, while civil, lacked any depth, and well it sounded warm and friendly the undertones told me otherwise. I know she actually believed I was blind because of a few of the looks I got from her. I think she was quite resentful over having to spend an evening with someone she probably regarded as a cripple. I was somewhat resentful of this, too as the man I had borrowed the cane fron, although blind, was anything BUT a cripple. He was a man I considered very courageous and damned smart.

When we got back to the car, my pal pointed out that we really needed a designated driver as getting a DUI was pretty serious and he suggested that I drive as I had not imbibed.

My date went straight through the roof!

"The man's blind!" she screamed.

"Yeah, so?" I said, conversationally.

My buddy and his girl got her settled down a bit.

"It's OK," they explained. "He'll sit in front and give him directions. They do this all the time."

It took quite a bit of doing but finally we had her convinced enough to get into the bac seat of the car.

"Well, OK," she said, dubiously. "But if I don't like it, I'm getting out and catching a cab!"

I got into the driver's seat and with my pal giving directions, off we went.

'Little to the right...little straighten 'em out. Slow up and stop here. We're going to enter traffic and you're going to have to make a right...not yet, GO! Right, more right...straighten 'em out."

It was like this through the streets of Boston until we got to the Mass Pike and then things relaxed a bit. He didn't have to give as many directions. Occasional glances into the rear view mirror let me know my date was terrified.

We came to a rest area and we decided to snag a cup of joe and my pal directed me to pull in next to the parking space reserved for the State Police, which I did and as luck would have it, as soon as I shut the car down, in pulled a Statie. I got out and got a 'What the hell is this all about' look from the officer.

I faced the officer with my back to everyone, lowered my shades and with a stifled smirk I gave him a sly wink. My date got awfully nervous.

Whoever says that some police officers don't have a sense of humor is wrong. The officer gruffly asked me if I had a license and I produced mine. When he asked why the State of Alaska had issued a license to a blind person I told him I had suffered my accident about a year ago and my license had not expired yet.

Feigning anger, he said to the other three that while he didn't like it one bit that there was nothing he could do about it because my license was still good. He gave me a very slight tinge of a smirk and followed us into the coffee shop. We grabbed a to-go order and off we went.

After I dropped my date off the three of us laughed ourselves silly and wondered what she was going to say at work the next day and they dropped me off at my folks place where I was staying.

The next day I chartered a small plane and the pilot and I buzzed my friends place of work and put on a mini air show for a few minutes. About an hour later, I went into my friends workplace, clad in sunglasses, a flight jacket and carrying a clipboard and flight computer.

"Hey, Ace," said my pal. "Was that you?"

"Yeah. We also flew the length of the Cape Cod Canal," I replied. "Under both the Bourne and Sagamore bridges!" This was years before the railroad bridge was built over the canal. I hadn't done this, it was BS between friends.

"They'll yank your ticket for that if they catch you...Hey are you thinking of flying Skyraiders for the Navy?" he asked. This was a bunch of crap. I have never been in the Navy but with last night's date listening from the next cubicle I guess my pal wanted to lay it on a little thick.

"Gotta catch me first," I said. "Navy's going with jets for ground support now. No slots open for me. They closed the program some time ago."

My date of the previous evening was sitting in the next cubicle and the look of outrage on her face followed by her becoming obviously silent made me think I should keep my mouth shut, but I felt the need to be at least civil. I looked over at her.

"I had an interesting time last night," I said.

"You're a real jerk," she snipped.

I looked at her thoughtfully. "Who's the jerk? Character is what happens when nobody is looking. You thought I couldn't see and I the looks you gave me last night said quite a bit." I could tell that that answer really stung.

Obviously she had no sense of humor and I left, noticing the amused looks I got from everyone else in the office. I imagine that at break she had told everyone about being driven around by a blind chauffeur and now she felt more than a tad foolish. She didn't have the common sense to simply fess up and admit she had been fooled by a couple of professionals and get it behind her.

Her coworkers probably would have respected her for that.

My friend later told me that a couple of weeks later she left the company and went somewhere else.

That evening when I returned the cane to my neighbor and told him the story he about laughed himself silly.

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