Wednesday, June 4, 2014

"A writer is like a bag lady going through life with a sack and a pointed stick collecting stuff."      ~ Tony Hillerman


I just got back from voting. I've only missed one election day in my adult life, and that was because I had a 103 degree fever. Made me remember one of the first times I ever went to the voting booth...

We'd just gotten married, and one of Richard's good friends was also an attorney. In fact, Dan and Richard had gone to law school together, and now Dan lived not far from our new apartment. In those days I cooked every night from scratch, start to finish.  So, of course, one Saturday night we invited Dan over for dinner.  I'd set the table with wonderfully painted dishes, chilled the wine, and then I'd put on a new dress that I'd just bought. All was ready.

Richard had gone to pick up Dan... Oops, I forgot to tell you - Dan was totally blind! 

Every single day, expertly using his white cane, Dan wallked 8 blocks to work and then back. In fact, we had visited Dan the other evening at his apartment. Richard had knocked on the door, and Dan invited us in. There were NO lights on. It was 8 o'clock on a very dark night, and inside Dan's apartment, it was pitch dark, too! Of course, I thought. Why would he need his lights on? Richard found the light switch just after I tripped over something on the floor and fell flat on my face on the living room carpet. "What time is it?" Dan said, as he opened the crystal face of his wrist watch and petted the raised numbers. "Oh, I didn't realize what time it was. I would have turned the lights on for you!"

Well, Richard and Dan walked into our apartment that Saturday night, and we sipped some wine, ate some hors d'oeuvres, talked about all kinds of things, and laughed lots. All at once, though, my silly bra strap started to slip down off my shoulder. Surreptiously, I managed to slide it back on my shoulder where it belonged. I'd had lots of practice doing that. It was then that I suddenly realized... WHO CARES? I could have been sitting there in my slip, and it wouldn't have mattered a whit! Why, I could be sitting there with nothing on at all. Dan was blind! So I celebrated this occasion, and took my darn bra off completely! There is a certain freedom in blindness, at least to the hostess, there is! 

What a strange feeling that was! I really didn't have to dust the furniture before he came over... I didn't have to vacuum. I didn't even have to comb my hair! Dan was so smart and funny and comfortable that his blindness didn't seem to enter into the evening much at all. I did cut the pot roast into bite-sized pieces for him, but that was about it. He loved my cooking. What more could I ask?

Well, time passed and election day rolled around. Richard told Dan that we'd walk with him over to the polling place because the three of us would be voting at the same one. 

In we walked, the 3 of us, and bellied up to the table to receive our ballots before entering the cardboard booths. Dan announced to the head volunteer that he was blind and that someone would have to read the ballot aloud to him and mark his ballot, as well. 

I was sequestered inside my claustrophobic booth, reading all the legalese, trying to decide what each proposition was proposing, when all of a sudden, I could heard voices, loud voices! 

"Mayoral Candidates is the first category. Joe Smit..."

"JOE SMITH!!!  THAT JERK! I WOULDN'T VOTE FOR THAT JERK IF HE WAS RUNNING FOR DOGCATCHER! WHO PUT HIM ON THE BALLOT???"

"I'm sorry, sir. You must NOT yell out like this. People are voting, and no one is allowed to predju..."

"WHO'S THE NEXT GOON WHO'S RUNNING? COME ON! WE DON'T HAVE ALL NIGHT!"

"Really, sir! I cannot allow this yelling to go on. People must have quiet to..."

"HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO VOTE? ME, A BLIND MAN! KEEP ON READING, HOMER! I'LL TELL YOU WHICH GUY I'LL VOTE FOR!"

... and so it went, on and on and on. It was the funniest and most embarrassing voting day of my life. Have you ever seen a room full of voting booths with eyes peering around the curtains at a wild, blind man with a strange sense of humor? Those were the good old "Wild West" sort of voting days, when men were men, and blind guys made voting a test of nerves...                

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