Hello. My name is Emily and I will be your blind date for this evening. Don’t be alarmed. As I’m sure you could intuit from our previous conversations, I’m not a blind date in the traditional sense, and this venture we’re about to embark on isn’t what the sitcoms or glamor magazines would call a blind date either. But I am a blind date, and I’d like to help you understand what I mean.
You see, this isn’t a traditional blind date because I am not likely to be dating anyone I’ve never met before. Hopefully (if I’m talking to the right person), you’re someone with whom I’ve had a few conversations. Maybe we met at work, in college, or at my favorite bookstore. Are you still there? Please let me know if you decide to leave the table for any reason, or else I’ll be talking to empty air without realizing it.
Speaking of the table, I should mention that, since this is an ideal blind date you’re speaking with and an ideal blind date we’re on, you and I are sharing a candlelit table at my favorite Greek restaurant. The restaurant’s lighting is very dim, and the place is cozy, the smell of garlic pervading the air. All the staff have lovely Greek accents, and the most attentive server conscientiously rearranges my bread or salad plate when he places a new dish before me. Unlike most fancy, dimly-lit restaurants, this place does not have white tablecloths on each table, and that’s a blessed relief to me. Have you ever tried to find a clear water glass on a white table cloth? It’s probably not much of a struggle for you, but when you have low vision, it’s not a fun game to play. Especially after the third glass of pinot grigio.
Are you ready to order? I’ve been here before so it doesn’t really matter that the print on the menu is too small. Anyway, if I have to consult the menu here, I’ll pull out my Ruby, which is a small video magnifier. You’ve probably seen me use it before, since we’re so well-acquainted. It even allows me to change the text to white lettering on a black background, which is so much easier for me to read.
But look at me getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to when you first picked me up…
You arrive at my house promptly, which I greatly appreciate. I award points for punctuality. As someone who doesn’t drive, it can be frustrating to be waiting on your ride to show up. No doubt, you’ll offer me your arm to escort me down the front stairs. I appreciate this as well. Don’t be surprised if I don’t unfold my cane in my front yard. It feels so strange to use it there, in such a familiar place.
We walk up to your car and, being courteous, you open the door for me. If you are kind enough to stand by the door and continue talking to me, it will be easy for me to find the vacant space where I should attempt to sit. However, if you open the door quietly and walk around to your own door, or if you open the door quietly and don’t say much, it is harder for me to estimate where my seat is. So I recommend a simple, ‘Here you go,” or “The door’s open,” if you’re not feeling garrulous.
(I understand if my stunning appearance or captivating perfume moves you to silence. It happens.)
Truthfully, I don’t object to opening doors for myself. It’s a good way for me to learn exactly where things are. Often, someone will hold a door for me, and then it is harder for me to find the space that I should be walking through. So if you feel like opening the door, just give me a verbal cue. And if you’re not the door-opening type, you can tap the handle of the door and I’ll find it.
A similar rule applies to pulling out chairs for me. I know these actions are considered courteous, but honestly, if you pull out a chair for me, I no longer know where that chair is. If you want to display this kind of courtesy, I suggest that you take my hand and place it on the back of the chair that you have so considerately pulled away from the table. Otherwise, I am not likely to benefit from your gentlemanly behavior. (Insert a picture of me missing the chair and sprawling on the floor, laughing hysterically. Follow this image with us getting kicked out of this fine establishment and having to settle for fast food. It could still be a good date, but I’m in the mood for Greek food. So save this trick for next time.)
Well our server has arrived and taken our order. You might be surprised by how friendly I am to servers. If you think I’m flirting too much or being exceptionally chatty, I assure you there’s a method to my madness. If I engage a server in conversation, he or she is less likely to direct questions about my order to you. I like to speak for myself, but, since you know me already, this should not surprise you.
The meal is bound to be fantastic. I have chosen this place for a reason. I hope you are willing to split dessert with me, although, I warn you, I am not very good at sharing dessert – not because I don’t like to share, but because getting bites of cheesecake or pie onto my fork from a plate that is farther away, equidistant from both of us, proves more challenging to my hand-eye coordination. You could be a sweetie and push the plate closer to me. I promise I won’t return this kindness by eating more than my share of the cake.
We’ve pretty much concluded the restaurant portion of the evening. Let’s move on for what you’ve planned after, a trip to the symphony. Where would the perfect date be without a trip to the symphony?
If we’re walking downtown, the cracked sidewalks and uneven streets are going to play havoc with my cane. I’m just warning you – I might need you to slow your pace a bit.
And the ushers are most likely going to ask YOU if I want a program. You have several options here.
If you want the rest of the evening to go poorly, you answer for me. It doesn’t matter what you say. Answering for me without consulting me will effectively mar the date.
If you want the rest of the evening to be pleasant, you can choose any of the following options. When the usher hands you a program but doesn’t give you one for me, you can say in a voice of theatrical surprise, “Oh Emily, he/she didn’t hand me a program for you. Would you like one?” This might make the usher blush and say, “Oh…I thought she couldn’t see…Here you go!” He/she will hurriedly shove a program into your hands and, seeing that we’ve found seats, he/she will then make a mad dash for the bathroom to sob with embarrassment. (This is the ideal scenario.)
Alternatively, the usher will ask you, “Would she like a program?” to which you can respond, “I don’t know, why don’t you ask her?” or “I don’t know. Emily, would you like a program?” Here, it’s important to help the usher realize his/her misstep – not directly engaging with me. Encouraging him/her to ask me directly, or asking me the question he/she should have asked, helps underscore the absurdity of asking someone else to intuit whether I’d like a program.
And, since you know me so well, you know I want a program. We’re at the symphony, after all. Of course I want to be able to read the historical information and calendar of future events that the program includes.
The third option features the usher directly asking me if I would like a program. This rarely occurs, so we don’t have to prepare for it. Suffice it to say, I’ll answer for myself.
After the symphony, perhaps we can go for coffee. Or a nice walk. Anything that will allow us more time to continue our fantastic conversation. Really, who wants this night to end?