The Blind Convention

Published: February 6, 2011

In high school, I briefly dated a girl who liked me a lot but couldn’t stand that I was always late to meet her. Whether it was going out to dinner or a movie, I would always show up late and she would always get mad. One time we were supposed to meet at South Ferry to go the Statue of Liberty. I was late. She took the rest of the afternoon to plot her revenge. On some pretense she managed to get me to give her all my money, then she escaped on the subway leaving me at the very southern tip of Manhattan. I walked for a long time then snuck onto the subway at 34th Street.

I should have been mad at her for ditching me, but she was mad at me for being late. She told me, “We’re going to make a date to meet and if you’re late, I’m breaking up with you.” In those days, even for a chick magnet like me, girlfriends were impossible to get, so I took this threat very seriously. I promised her I could arrive at our next meeting place on time.

We agreed that place would be the 86th St. and Lexington Ave. subway stop, at 7:30 p.m. On the appointed night, somehow I lost track of the time at the critical moments. I looked at the clock; it was 6:45—cutting it a little tight, but still time to get to the 86th St. Crosstown bus and arrive on time. I made it to the bus stop in a few minutes. The bus came shortly afterwards. I was golden. Nothing could stop me now.

Then, horrors! When we reached Central Park West, the bus was filled to standing-room-only and a convention of blind people was waiting to board. One by one they painstakingly felt their way up the steps and into the aisle. People had to stand up from their seats, further clogging the aisle and prolonging the whole process. Each blind person threaded slowly through the crowded bus to a seat. One after another after another. There must have been 20 of them. It was excruciating for me. I wanted to scream. After a good 15 minutes, we were on our way. My slim margin of slack time had vanished. Unless the bus kept a rapid pace my goose was cooked.

Then, calamity! We traveled one stop to 5th Avenue, where the blind convention got off. Slowly they turned; step by step and inch by inch, they tapped their canes down the steps back to the sidewalk.

I made it to Lexington by 7:35. She was gone. When I told her it wasn’t my fault, there was a blind convention, she said, “That’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told me!” I should have said I had to go to a prayer meeting.

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