Secret Pop

May 22, 2005

Guilty. Sighted.

A few months ago, I was sitting in my car with my friend John on a little side street in Hillcrest (a community of San Diego). It was getting on to four or five o'clock in the morning, and we had been talking for some time. Long after the bars had closed. And I began to notice people on the sidewalk as it got closer to morning. At one point, a blind man crossed in front of us, tapping his way up Sixth Avenue. I made some glib comment. I assumed he wasn't really all that blind. Why would an actual blind guy be out at this hour? But then, as we watched -- and despite his diligent tapping -- he walked directly into a bush and had to reorient himself in order to continue on up the sidewalk. He looked sort of like an RC car that gets driven into a corner and has to back up a few times before it can fully turn around and get going again. I felt really guilty for having doubted the extent of his blindness. And I felt guiltier still for having just sat there and watched him walk into that bush, where he could have tripped and fallen or hurt himself. He got on all right after that. But I sat very still and hoped he couldn't hear us talking in my car. The last thing that guy needed right then was to know that two people had watched that whole scene. I'm very clumsy. I've actually opened cupboard doors right into my own face before. But fortunately, I'm usually alone when this happens and I don't have to cope with the humiliation of a derisive audience. In certain circumstances, all I have to worry about is what lie I will make up to explain the big bruise on my face. But there was one time when a group of work friends had come up to my apartment in Cardiff, and we were watching Tampopo and eating all sorts of goodies. And I went to make cappuccino, and I totally walked my face right into a cupboard door I had left open above the counter. I didn't lose an eye and there was no bleeding, so I suppose it's not so bad that everyone laughed and laughed. Incidentally, I don't hear from any of those people anymore. And good riddance.

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