It's All Relative
It's 9:00 on a Saturday morning and I'm laying on the couch counting the little triangles on my pack of Marlboro Lights. I'm almost to 200 when the phone rings. I try to keep counting, but by the third ring I give up and answer the phone. It's some pushy telemarketer selling home security systems. I tell him that I own lots of guns and that I'm a light sleeper. He thanks me for my time and hangs up.
By now, I'm not in the mood to start counting all over again, so I close my eyes and try to go to sleep. I'm still buzzed from the night before, but I can't get back to sleep. My body is programmed to get up at 7:00 a.m. Monday through Friday, so no matter how late I stay out on Friday night, Saturday morning is still screwed. I like my Saturdays, though. My roommate works all day and I have the whole apartment to myself.
I consider going for a walk or maybe going to the pound and getting a dog to take for a walk. Just thinking about saving a dog nearly makes me cry. Instead, I grab the remote and flip on the television. Little House on the Prairie is on. It's the episode where the oldest daughter, Mary, has to go away to blind school so that she can learn how to be blind. She's really crabby and lashes out at everyone, even Ma. If I were Pa, I would take her out in the middle of the woods and let her feel her way back home. Then she'd learn what being blind is all about.
I debate on getting a beer from the refrigerator, but I don't want to drink this early unless there's a reason (like St. Patrick's Day or Mardi Gras) or I've earned it (like I've cleaned the bathroom or saved a dog from the pound). So instead, I go to my room and grab a scarf out of my closet. I wrap it tightly around my eyes and spin around in circles. I'm Mary now and, if I want that beer, I'm gonna have to work for it. My teacher wants me to learn to do things for myself and he refuses to help me, so I'm on my own.
I stick my hands out, spread my fingers wide, and take a small step forward. My arms swing back and forth like windshield wipers as I shuffle along, "looking" for the doorway. I bump into the wall and take it down to baby steps. I'm so proud when I find the doorway, that I'm encouraged to continue down the hallway and toward the kitchen. I nearly trip over a clothes basket my roommate has carelessly left in my path; it's not her fault, though, she has no idea that I'm blind right now.
My fumbling hands lead me down the wall and toward the kitchen doorway. The hardwood floor is gritty. I guess I never noticed before because I used my eyes too much and everything else got lazy. I'm pretty confident of the path ahead, so I pick up my pace toward the refrigerator and fall over a chair that someone, probably me, didn't push back in to the table. I belly flop to the floor, busting my knee, elbow and chin on the cold, gray linoleum. Shit! I take off my blindfold to inspect myself. There's no blood and I can still move my leg and arm. I look up and see that I'm sprawled out right in front of the refrigerator. Not bad for a beginner! I open the refrigerator to claim my hard earned prize. There is only one beer left and if I drink it, the only other occupant in the fridge, mustard, will look lonely. So I grab the beer, replace it with the salt shaker from the pantry, and limp to the couch.
I surf the channels and finally decide on Discovery. There's a program on about neanderthals with reenactments depicting how they lived. It's pretty cool. I feel like I'm actually watching real live cavemen. I think about what it would be like if I could transport myself back to that time period. The women would probably snicker behind my hairless back about my freakishly flat forehead and narrow nose. They'd pity me for being so damned ugly. The men would argue over who has to reproduce with me until they finally pawn me off on Thor, who is old and nearly blind. Eventually, the clan realizes that I am useless. They send me out to find water one morning while they quickly gather their things, abandon the cave and leave me to die.
After the show ends I go to the store to get more beer. On the way home, I glance at the dashboard clock - 11:00. I decide that if I don't make it back to my apartment by 11:07, all of my friends will be blown up by a crazed lunatic. I accelerate to 45 mph, which I hate to do in a 'deaf children playing' zone, but there's too much at stake right now. I roll through two stop signs then I'm forced to stop at a red light. Dammit! It's 11:06 and my pulse is racing. The light turns green and I peel out to finish the home stretch. My tires squeal as I turn into my parking spot and look at the clock - 11:08. Shit!
The crazed lunatic decides that the stoplight was not my fault. He'll give me one last chance - if I can hold my breath starting now until I get inside and put the beer in the refrigerator, he'll spare my friends. I take three deep breaths and hold the last. As I scramble out of my car, I see my yappy neighbor Mimi. She's standing outside our building with her even yappier maltipoo, whom I secretly refer to as Lil' Mimi. Big Mimi smiles with all of her teeth and gums and opens her mouth to start talking over Lil' Mimi, who is barking her stupid little head off. I know that neither Big nor Lil' Mimi realize the gravity of my pretend hostage situation, but there's no time to waste. I tuck the twelve pack under one arm and use my free hand to cover my mouth like I'm going to puke and sprint right past her. I race up the stairs to my apartment, fumble for the right key, unlock the door and run into the kitchen. After throwing the beer into the fridge, I empty my aching lungs. The crazed lunatic is pissed, but a deal's a deal!
To celebrate my victory, I grab a beer and flop down on the couch. I find a show about body mutilation in different cultures. It's really gruesome, so I watch it. Old Chinese women are displaying their deformed feet. Their feet had been bound tightly for years to keep them from growing and now they're just grotesque little stumps. I can barely even make out their toes from the rest of their feet, it's all just one mushy mess.
I get up to grab another beer. On my way back from the kitchen, I go into my room and rummage through my closet. I find an old pair of black heels with pointy toes that I could only stand to wear one time. They would make great Lotus shoes. I put on a pair of thick socks and stuff my feet into those torture chambers. I can barely walk in my makeshift Lotus shoes. My name is now Ming Li and I must keep my feet small so that men will find me desirable and want to marry me. Since I'm not royalty, I am forced to do chores all day. So I vacuum, dust and walk down a flight of steps to check my mailbox. Every step is torture, but men are turned on by tiny feet so I must endure the pain. My parents forbid me to unbind my feet. I would be an outcast, a leper, a social pariah. They won't allow me to bring such shame on the family. Thirty minutes later, I decide to be a sexual and social outcast and completely humiliate my family. I throw the shoes in the trash, soak my feet in warm water and massage the circulation back into my lifeless toes.
I prop my still throbbing feet up on a pillow and grab the remote. I start watching some show about a man who was born without arms. He lives by himself and can write, cook, dial a phone, even paint - using only his feet! This guy's got some crazy foot skills and it's absolutely fucking unbelievable. Watching him prepare food with his feet is a little unnerving, but I guess he's gotta do what he's gotta do. The neanderthals definitely would have kept this guy around.
I light a cigarette and place it between my toes. It darts back and forth until my toes adjust their grip. This is already hard. I grab my leg and pull it up toward my face. Then I realize that using my arms is cheating, so I try again. This time, I leave my leg bent on the table and lean down to accommodate my cigarette. My lips pucker out as much as they can and grasp the cigarette. I can barely inhale because my stomach is too crunched up. Then, I lay down on the couch, bend my knees out and cradle my beer bottle between the soles of my feet. I carefully steer the bottle toward my mouth. I sit up a little to bridge the gap and the beer spills down my shirt. I'm just not flexible enough. Maybe I'll start taking yoga classes next week. I've been thinking about doing that anyway.
By now, I really need a nap. I flip through the channels and find the movie Nell. I turn the volume down a little and grab the blanket off the back of the couch. I lay down, cover myself up and start to fall asleep. The remote slides out of my hand as I laugh and whisper along with Nell, “A-tay-may-tay-chicka-bay. In da win. In da win”.
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