The eye of the beholder is practically blind |

The eye of the beholder is practically blind

Alison Berkley
Aspen, CO Colorado

Last night, John came over to help me hang my new bedroom drapes. It was the usual deal.

“I’ll feed you and water you if you hang these drapes in my bedroom for me,” is what I said.

That’s a pretty good deal because John will eat just about anything as long as it’s doused in hot sauce. And when you ask him what kind of beer he wants, he’ll say, “the cheaper the better.”

So I run out to the store and come home to find him reclining on the couch.

“Get off your lazy ass and hang my drapes, boy!” I say.

“I need a beer first,” he says, cracking one open.

“Fine,” I say.

He eventually gets off the couch only to relocate to a stool at my kitchen bar, presumably so he can supervise my cooking even though he pretends to be reading a magazine.

“Whatchya reading?” I ask, maybe being a little too subtle about how much I hate it when people read at the table.

“An article about stuff,” John says. John is not very talkative, which is why I like him. I can talk all the livelong day, and he never interrupts me. He never rolls his eyes and tells me I’ve already told him this story, like, 10 times. He never bores me with long, drawn out stories about his life. He just sits there. I can tell he’s listening because he laughs whenever I’m trying to be funny. That’s worked for the last five years, so I let him keep reading.

After dinner, he retires back to the couch.

“You are the worst worker I have ever seen!” I say.

“I need to digest,” he says, closing his eyes and throwing one arm over his head the way he does when he’s about to fall asleep.

Over the next half hour, I do my best to rouse him. I dance around the living room, blasting bad hip-hop songs I know he hates on my crappy little stereo. I serenade him with cheesy ’70s love songs by Chicago, using an empty paper towel roll as a microphone. At one point, I go into the bedroom and put on a pair of black heels under my sweat pants so I can do my best Tina Turner as Macy Gray performing “I Try” atop the living room coffee table.

“Fine, I’ll do it myself, then,” I say. I go into the bedroom and get the power drill and start playing with it.

“I need to know how long the drapes are so I know how high to put the rod,” he says, one eye open.

“Fine.” I go into the bedroom and bring back the package from the curtain panel that has the dimensions on it. “Do I have ‘little bitch’ written on my forehead? Come on! Get up!” I point the power drill toward his behind and pull the trigger.

“Fine, go mark the wall where you want the rod to be,” he says, pushing me with one arm and hiding his face under the other.

I walk into my bedroom to find the drapes are already up. They’ve been up the whole time, since before I got back from the grocery store. Mind you, these are not sheer drapes that could be missed. They’re heavy sky blue brushed silk drapes that are about 8 feet long.

“How many times did I …”

“Five,” he said, answering my question before I finished asking it, the way people do when they’ve known each other a long time.

“But when did you …”

“When you went to the store,” he said, laughing. He puts his arms up over his face like I might try to attack him or something.

Even though I am still laughing about it, I have to admit the whole experience sort of freaked me out.

I am seriously blind. There are a lot of reasons for this, but now I know it’s even worse than I thought.

Just like in yoga, it’s sort of a mind/body thing. Physically I can’t see a damn thing. You guys know the story: I was born cross-eyed and had a bunch of operations to correct it, but I’ll never have depth perception, and I still have a lazy eye that tends to wander when I’m tired or buzzed. That makes me look blind drunk, so to speak, even when I’m not. I can’t even tell you how many times that’s gotten me into trouble with catty friends who are like, “I saw you at Eric’s, and you looked right at me but you didn’t even say hello,” and I have to go through the whole “How many times do I have to tell you I can’t see?” routine.

But sometimes I can’t see emotionally, either. By that I mean I don’t see what I don’t want to see. It’s sort of a selective blindness. That ranges from not cleaning the yoga studio as well as my boss would like (“Oh? There were sweat smudges on the mirror? Must have missed those!”), to thinking the ugliest person in the world is the most amazing, beautiful human being I have ever seen.

My mom says I’m like Mr. Magoo, the cartoon character from the ’60s who was this little blind man who unknowingly caused all kinds of chaos and left disaster and destruction in his wake. He’d always come through it unscathed, even though he had no idea what the hell was going on. He was the original “ignorance is bliss” poster boy.

I’m pretty sure that’s how I’ve avoided death and taxes this long, like a little kid who plugs his ears and sings, “I can’t hear you, la-la-la-la!” at the top of his lungs.

Drapes, taxes, smudges on the mirror ” it’s all the same to me. Maybe that’s why I don’t care what you say about me. Chances are I’ll turn a blind eye.

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