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Every so often, I’ll get people who ask me questions about what they should do in certain situations. Why they think I’ll know is a question I’ve never gotten around to asking, because anyone who knows me knows that I’ll take any excuse to talk about anything at all, whether or not I know anything about it. To that end, I’m launching what I hope will become a regular feature, Ask A Little Blind Girl. Leave your question in the comments section of any post, and I’ll answer it in a future entry. I’m starting out with some of the most common:
Dear Little Blind Girl: I have the worst memory for faces. Do you have any tips on how to have a conversation with someone who obviously recognizes you when you have no idea who they are?
–Clear Vision But Hazy Memory
Dear CVBHM: I have this problem all the time, not because I can’t remember their faces, but because I can’t see them in the first place. Over time, I’ll learn to recognize voices and other indicators, but in the meantime I’ve learned a few tips for carrying on a conversation with an apparantly close friend you can’t remember at all.
First, remember that people love to talk about themselves. We so rarely get the chance to go on and on about ourselves that a simple “How are things going for you?” will get the person started on a long and hopefully rambling response that will give you more clues about who they are and, with luck, how they know you.
If you still haven’t placed the person by the time you’re called upon for a response, take the last thing the person said, reword it, and agree with it. “That’s so true, a warm spell does always follow a cold snap.” This will keep things going without actually requiring any substantive input from you. Phrases like, “Tell me more about that,” and “I never knew that–how interesting” can keep the conversation going for a long time.
If they ask you about yourself, try to pick up on the phrasing of the question for clues on the connection you supposedly have. “How is the meth lab disposal business going?” indicates that the person knows you through work. “Did your nephews survive the separation surgery?” shows that the person knows you through your family. If all else fails, just ask them what was going on the last time the two of you talked. “Gosh, I’m not sure, were you around for the quadruple bypass?” I’ve had successful lengthy conversations with people I still can’t place, and I’ve developed a reputation as a witty conversationalist to boot.
No matter what, if you say it with a smile, you’ll probably be fine.
Dear Little Blind Girl: I’m interested in asking a member of the sex to which I’m attracted on a date. Problem is, this person can’t see very well. What should I do to make him/her/them more comfortable? Does this mean they won’t notice if I don’t wear a tie/pantyhose/uncomfortable shoes?
–Short-Sighted Would-Be Suitor
Dear SSWBS: First of all, it’s always a positive step that you’ve asked. One of the best things you can do is simply be aware of the situation and pay attention. If your date has bad vision and is about to walk into a glass door, you’ll score major points by heading off a major injury. Don’t assume your blind date knows there are steps coming up if she’s actually blind. Among other things, doing so will put a quick end to the date, and to any chance of future dates, especially if it’s a lengthy set of stairs.
I recommend not taking a date with vision problems on the traditional dinner and a movie. That translates to dinner and a migraine, which means that you will forever be associated in your date’s mind with a headache–not something that’s going to play well for you later on down the line. Try an outdoor concert or a wine tasting. If you insist on a movie, art gallery, or other visually oriented date activity, be prepared to provide two to three hours of descriptive analysis mixed with insightful commentary and stand-up comedy. I recommend the outdoor concert; it’s much less work.
Also, your date will know if you don’t put effort into your appearance. That uncomfortable, stilted speech that you find in the beginning of a relationship comes from a tie you’re not used to wearing, heels that are a little higher than you’re used to, and so on. It’s not fun, but it shows you care, and if you’re wearing your pajamas to a dinner date, your date will be able to tell even if he or she can’t see it, I promise you.
Always remember, just because your date is blind doesn’t mean all his or her senses are on the fritz: flowers still smell pretty, chocolates still taste wonderful, wine still gets us drunk. Happy hunting! Er, dating.
Dear Little Blind Girl: If you can’t see, how come you think Johnny Depp is hot?
–Skeptical In Schenectady
Dear SIS: There is a hotness that transcends the merely visual. It emanates from his being. It is the aura of an aura, the glow of greatness, the sense that this person has been kissed by the gods. Also, when I was younger and I could see, I fell instantly in love and then was blinded by his glory so that no rival could ever take his place. My love for Johnny Depp is true and eternal. Mock it at your peril.