[bct] Buddy Ask For it!

  • From: "Dana Niswonger" <dniswonger@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2005 10:18:48 -0600


Final Addition

There are 600 million people living in America today, 15 million of us are 
blind with 5 million of us being totally blind.  I am 49 and have worked in the
area of legislation for us for more than 30 years.  If you were to ask me for 
my resume, I would need to ask you, which one?  In my desk are three of these
containing my work, political and volunteer experience.  Through out my life so 
far, I find fighting the good fight for us to be the most incredible risk
I have ever taken.  To replace ignorance with intelligence, pity with 

Until 5.1 surround sound, my favorite stereo movie was Top Gun.  The action 
packed flight sequences, life sounds and music made it a exciting listening
experience.  Some of the most profound seems in this movie go over looked by 
many.  There is a locker room seen in which Maverick and his nemesis Ice Man
converse for a 20 second interval.  "Maverick, you may be a good pilot but up 
their you're dangerous, dangerous and foolish.  We're all on the same team,
who side are you on?"  If I have misquoted the syntax I know I've gotten the 
meaning across.

In college my sighted friend and room mate wanted to try an experiment because 
he was so determined to be able to identify with my world.  Knowing Craig
as I did, I knew he was quite serious.  He decided that he wanted to wear a 
sleep shade for two weeks and never take it off.  In fact, we used more than
two dozen of these before the experiment was over.  Consulting a doctor 
regarding the safety of this, we were told that the back to sight process would
need to be gradual and controlled, using dark glasses in order to protect 
Craig's sight.  I ask Craig some very serious questions as we were on break at
that point and trying to enjoy ourselves.  Things like:  Are you willing to 
give up driving, reading, watching TV. And movies, not to mention, looking
at your girl friend Carol?  He said honestly that he had given the matter a 
good deal of thought, I laughed uproariously  and thus the experiment began.

Perhaps the most fun came from listening to him trying to eat, something he had 
completely over looked and encountered the first morning of our first day.
 I had agreed that in exchange for my right to laugh at him to take on the 
added responsibility of things like cooking for the first week.  My next and
perhaps the greatest laugh of the whole thing came when he tried to put his 
pants on standing up.  I nearly killed myself laughing when he refused to give
up and sit on the bed to accomplish this task.  I finally convinced him to lean 
his back against a wall and give it a try.  Oh, I forgot to mention that
I bet him a night alone with Carol if he took off the sleep shade for any 
longer than it took to change it in a dark room.  Carol and I had prearranged
this just to give him an added incentive.  Oh, I may have also forgot to 
mention that I refused to help him figure out what in fact he was wearing.  I
had enough trouble keeping up with my own clothes.  He hadn't given this any 
thought either, read on for a good one!

The above took up the first two hours of our first day.  We sat down afterwards 
to figure out what we would do that day to have fun.  I told him that I
was already having fun and that made him all the more determined.  I had 
arranged with Carol to come over and she arrived about 15 minutes later.  She
burst out laughing when she saw him and whispered to me why.  We had a 
wonderful 10 minutes laughing together and refused to tell Craig what was wrong.
 Craig was a fashion conscious guy.  Having a small amount of legal vision 
until I became illegally blind when I was 12, I could both relate to his mistake
and laugh at his oversight in preparation for the experiment.  Carol told him 
what was wrong saying that she would help him arrange his clothes once and
after that he was on his own.  She told me that she had brought her camera with 
her and was taking pictures when ever these precious moments arrived. 
Craig had on a pair of mustard colored slacks with an orange stripe down the 
side of each leg and a pink shirt with teal patterns in it, for those of you
that can identify.  He would probably fit right in quite well now given the 
couture's of today.

Craig decided that he'd better develop some better plans regarding matters of 
attire and personal hygiene.  Carol and I agreed, giving him some suggestions.
 I allowed as how he had watched me for so long, we had been friends since high 
school, that he probably knew the answers to many of his questions if he
stopped and thought about it a minute.  There was a problem I knew he hadn't 
considered at all when it came to the bathroom and I waited happily for it
to arrive.  Carol knew and we waited, snickering silently to ourselves for the 
spirit to move Craig or should I say, move a part of him anyway.

Craig decided that he wanted to ride around and develop his listening skills a 
little.  We did this, getting gas, going to the grocery store and for a treat
for Carol, the mall.  Yes young folks, we had them in the 70's, only not just 
10 miles apart from each other.  Carol led Craig being quite familiar with
sighted guide technique.  I walked along using my cane, explaining some 
concepts of taking sound pictures and determining consistent sound marks during
the trip.  Craig was amazed at how no one noticed him.  I guess he thought that 
he had a sign on his back and the whole world was watching.  Perhaps some
of us newly blinded folks can identify with his fear.  Orientation and mobility 
instructors go through this process when they are trained and I think the
rest of the world are just to caught up in their own lives or never even 
notice.  Carol and I had a little fun at the grocery store check out counter.
 Carol had picked a gorgeous young woman checker and ask Craig what he thought 
she looked like.  I engaged the woman in conversation and waited for Craig's
answer.  Craig was about to get his lesson in the futility of trying to 
determine a persons looks by their voice.  It should be said here that it is in
fact possible to determine more by the attitude of the person rather than just 
their voice.  Craig got a hug from the cashier and we all had a laugh when
we explained to her what we were doing.

Arriving home, I helped Craig develop some land marks so he wouldn't be useless 
assisting us with the groceries.  During the shopping trip, I waited for
Craig to become interested in the shapes of things but he never did, now he 
would face the consequences of his poor decision making.  Carol insisted that
he decide what and where the items should be put.  He had no trouble with the 
eggs, milk and other cold things.  We gave him those first to get him a 
frame so we could have fun with him when it came to the boxes and cans.  I 
explained the concepts of box perception but refused to help him with the cans.
 He finally gave up, deciding we would figure it out later.  He had found the 
tuna so we made sandwiches for lunch or should I say Carol and I did.  I
gave Craig a far more difficult task, asking him to put some music on the 
stereo.  Peter Frampton, Frampton Comes Alive was quite popular then and we all
loved the 14 minute version of "Do You Feel Like We Do?".  I thought this song 
very appropriate for our experiment.  We only had a few albums, yes again
young folks, we used to have these things called records that played music and 
Craig began the process of illumination.  Feeling a little sorry for him,
I reminded him that the album was labeled in Braille.  He allowed rather 
abusively that he hadn't learned Braille yet and it was after all only his first
day.  Deciding to help him a little more, I told him that the album had been 
split at the seem from over use.  Going quickly through the few double albums,
he found it and managed to get it put on the turn table without scratching.  
Over lunch he ask what other helpful hints I might have regarding life in
the dark world.  I rattled off several, wondering how many he would remember 
when the time came to use them.

The moment Carol and I had been waiting for came right after lunch.  Craig 
called me quietly aside to help him deal with his need.  I told him to visualize
himself walking into the bathroom and then just do it with confidence.  I was 
serious about this, believing that this is a big part of a former sighted
persons adjustment to blindness.  The only thing I added to my advice was to 
place his shins against the point of the commode and take a half step backward,
as well as to remember to aim down and listen to the sound.  He ask if I'd ever 
missed, to which I answered, never!  Denial is a river in Egypt.  While
he was busy, Carol told me that she was planning to spend the night at our 
house.  I said I thought it was a good idea as Craig would probably need some
consoling by then.  We decided to hear a movie that afternoon and off we went.  
Sorry young folks, not even VCR's back then.  We all had lots of wonderful
experiences during the remaining days of the experiment and I'm sure they both 
remember them fondly.  It would get to be to long of a narrative to share
them all here.  I will end this part simply by saying that I never spent a 
night alone with Carol

Back to Top Gun for a second.  Another profound quote, so profound that is in 
fact been used by our president, comes during one of the flight sequences.
 Maverick is being chased by Chester when Chester calls over the radio, "you 
can run but you can't hide!".

I was main streamed in high school.  This meant that I was the only blind 
student at my high school.  I loved it!  Finally, I was on my own, free of all
supervision by over protective resource teachers.  I was introduced to a few 
guys that were to assist me in my orientation around the campus.  On that
first day when I ask where the men's room was, they told me and I entered.  
Immediately, I heard someone else using the facilities from within a stall.
 The person spoke and it was a young woman's voice.  She told me as she came 
out that the second stall was open and ask if I might wait a minute.  I agreed
and she quickly peaked out a crack in the door to see who was looking.  As she 
was not new, she identified my provocateurs.  She told me her name was Lorie,
she new who they were and she would take care of it.  We left together and my 
escorts had ran.  Lorie took on the business of helping me learn my way around
and we became friends.  Keeping in mind that I was never told this by anyone, 
not even Lorie, here is what I heard.  Lorie got the help of our schools
star quarter and halfback and found those guys, one at a time.  She offered 
them a choice, they all took the next day off and were subsequently suspended
for truancy causing them three more days off.

Our senior year, Lorie, myself and a few others were at our favorite smoking 
place during lunch.  The guys were passing around a magazine displaying women
in various stages of undress.  Lorie ask me where blind people got our imagery 
from.  I found myself rather embarrassed by her honest question.  I told
her that unless we had been allowed to look at a woman, all we had were general 
impressions gained from hugs and stuff.   She said nothing to this but
I could tell she was thoughtful.  The next day, she ask me just before lunch to 
ditch school for the afternoon with her.  I agreed and we bought sandwiches
at a local deli and drove up into the forest near by to eat.  Finishing lunch 
found us talking about our fellow students.  She said that she had gotten
into a fight with her boy friend and given him back his ring because of what 
she was about to do.  She told me she had a perfect body and ask if I thought
any of those creeps back at school would ever get to touch her.  Her question 
needed no answer.  Lorie proceeded to undress and place herself in my lap.
 "Look at me Dana, touch me and see what a woman looks like."

In my past 37 years as an illegally blind person, I have become resentful at 
the presumption by others that if I want to touch someone, I must want to cop
a free feel and would go immediately for the genitals.  This resentment has 
become so strong that I wrote a poem about my feelings.

Touch me and See

For Lori's Classic Camaro

I wonder if you know how it feels to me,

When those who have eyes won't let me see

From today's modern world and tomorrow's progress chore,

Comes one transgression that I cannot ignore

My eyes get broken when you slam heart's door,

Now I cannot see anyone any more

To our fast-paced love-starved sex-crazed society,

Of lustful deed and boasted impropriety,

I must say thanks for ruining my right to see

You do me no great kindness to let me feel your face,

If the rest of you remains an empty shapeless space

When you see man or woman don't you see all of them,

Why should I be deprived of viewing God's most precious gem

When you see opposite sex you may think of what you wish,

Don't put upon me your hex you eat your own tish

Only one percent of all you do is in your sex glands,

The other 99 percent is in your head and your two hands

So there you have it friend the proof as I have shone it,

The only question is can or will you own it

It seems no small thing I ask of thee,

To smash the sex barriers between you and me,

Yet it's only four words to say touch me and see

Lori has only one vehicle, a Volkswagen

Respectfully Submitted For Your Approval

From the no Light Zone


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