blind date

There were some advantages to dating a blind guy. The obvious: she could look like she just crawled backwards through the proverbial hedge and he'd be none the wiser. The less obvious, as she realised (to her great wonderment) as the relationship continued: not being constantly criticsed for her appearance made her care more about her appearance than she ever had before. Why, she asked herself (once or thrice), when it doesn't matter what I look like, am I suddenly buying makeup when I don't actually know how to use it?

They had met online, emailed and chatted and texted for a week, then he'd sent "haha shall we go on a blind date just pretend we dont know we like each other" one morning and her heart soared. They agreed on a time and a place and she sent him an on-the-spot selfie but all he sent back was a badly-lit shot of his (admittedly, quite distinctive) bag. She thought it was a little odd but decided it was his sense of humour and part of the whole blind date gag.

She'd been early. She'd tried to look casual, nonchalant, but her eyes kept darting back and forth, seeking out the tattered green bag with the half-an-Elmo sewn on one flap. She'd stopped herself several times but ten or twenty seconds later would realise she was doing it again.

He'd been late. He'd been so late she'd thought he wasn't coming after all. She'd drifted further and further out into the plaza, constantly turning, trying to spot his approach so she could wipe away the anxious tears and prepare a warm smile... and then when she'd looked back at where she'd been standing, where they'd arranged to meet, there was a guy with a guide dog and a bunch of flowers. Poor sod, she'd thought, Your date hasn't turned up either.

Blind date.

Wait... Blind. Date.

And he'd been so late because? Because he had to organise a guide dog from somewhere! His crazy sense of humour again!

She'd still been a little cautious, approaching him from the side but mainly watching the dog's reactions. Real guide dogs, she knew, were trained not to be distracted when they were working (which meant anytime their harness was on). So it was a real guide dog, or maybe a retired one (which would surely be easier to borrow). When she was standing right in front of the guy and he didn't react she'd very gently touched his arm with two fingers, assuming he'd closed his eyes for a moment (behind those shiny-gold Oxley lenses). He'd startled slightly, then relaxed and smiled. She'd expected him to say her name or hello... something. But he just stood there. Finally she said, in a timid and squeaky voice, "Blind date?"

She didn't like to disappoint people but tended to expect to be disappointed herself, so when it transpired that he was really-truly-cross-his-heart Legally Blind, she accepted that the best she was going to get was a blind guy who was insecure enough about his condition not to bother to include it in his dating profile. Apart from being Legally Blind (he could see vague shapes and sometimes light and dark had defined edges, but that was all) he was the same lovely person she'd fallen for online, and so they made it official and the relationship developed.

She would marvel at his adaptability, not least of which was his technological smarts - software that spoke to him, braille keyboards that bluetoothed to his phone, lots of everyday appliances that had been converted to give auditory clues instead of the usual visual ones.

She learned to live in his world, and to transition relatively smoothly from his back to hers. She started learning braille, in secret, so she could surprise him later.

The relationship had been so amazingly good for her she felt compelled to plan for its inevitable end. When did anything this good ever last?