Blind Spots

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I wasn't sure about posting this one, as I was worried it might come off as a bit self-pitying. That still might be the case, but I refer to this incident in another post I'm writing, so I figured, what the hell, right? And it still makes me laugh (and wince) to think back to how my baseball career both started and ended simultaneously. :c)

***

Hey L - catch!

My friend D tossed an outfielders mitt at me. It bounced off my chest and flopped to the ground. I picked it up and tossed it back.

Sorry, I said. I have an old war wound and can't lift my arm.







He threw it back. This time, after a brief struggle, I caught it.

OK how about Im allergic to leather then?

"Youre in luck; this glove is basically plastic. Thats what we get for going to a Catholic school; they won't spring for the essentials.

 I began to waver.

Cmon, get out there! he said. Im in center, and you know what a ball hog I am. I wont let you catch anything, evenif you want to.


Truth be told, I liked playing baseball, even though I was the smallest boy in the class and was by no means a natural. If they gave awards for enthusiasm, though, Id be MVP.

But lately Id been reluctant to play, or to even toss a tennis ball of the side of our house, as Id formerly spent hours doing. I was getting headaches after playing for more than 15 or 20 minutes.

Worse, my fielding ability the one thing I could actually do on a baseball diamond, provided I could get to the ball - had seemingly vanished overnight. Balls I normally caught now flew over my head, or bounced in front of me, resulting in derisive howls from my classmates during gym class. I didnt know why, which made it even more frustrating. Baseball and wiffle ball were two of the only activities that got me outdoors and with other kids. Id become more and more of a loner, especially after a bully in my old school essentially forced me to transfer.

It was early evening on a late September, with dusk approaching. Our seventh grade class was on a three-day camping trip about two hours from our hometown.

D and I were the new kids in our seventh grade class. We'd both transferred in at the beginning of the year. To say we made an unlikely pair would be an understatement. But for some reason we clicked immediately.

I suspect it was due to Mr. W's oddly-configured seating chart. When I walked into the classroom for the first time, each desk had a name tag. Five of the six rows had five students. The fifth row, for some reason, had nine students.

As I searched in vain for my name, a voice called out from the back of the room.

"Hey,are you L?"

I squinted in the dim morning light at the back of the room. A tall, rangy boy with a shock of sandy brown hair was holding a name tag aloft.

I nodded and walked down. He grinned and stuck out his hand. I shook it.

 "Hi, I'm D," he said. "You're the other new kid, right?"

"Yeah,"I said. I'd transferred from my old school after some problems with bullies.<ADD LINK>

"My family moved here from Cincinnati."

He surveyed the room. 

"Mavbe theyre afraid the girls will be too dazzled by our good looks if we sit with everyone else," he mused.

Yeah, that must be it. I eyed the front of the room. It seemed a long way away. I think were closer to Cincinnati than the front of the room, actually.

D laughed.

"Hey,that was funny!" he said.

This was new. People usually rolled their eyes when I attempted a joke.

"So was yours," I said.

D, as itturned out, did distract the girls with his good looks. He was tall, athletic, and popular. And I, well, wasn't.But I hung out with D, and if I kept quiet, no one seemed to care if I was around.

"Are you sure you want me in left field?" I asked D.

"Sure!"he said, dropping to the ground to do a one-handed push-up. He had more energy than the rest of our seventh grade class combined. "Why not?"

"I mean, don't you want someone who's... you know, actually a jock?"

"What are you talking about? I mean, you do great playing dodge ball in gym."

"That's because I'm the smallest person in the class."

"That'swhat I mean. You know enough to turn sideways so no one can see you."

"And then I run like hell so I'm not pummeled to death."

"Yeah,I never saw anyone get knocked over by a soccer ball before," he admitted.The fact that D himself had thrown the ball that took me out at supersonic speed played no small role in my eventual demise.

"Sorry again about that. I forgot that the ball probably weighs as much as you do."

"Ha ha," I said.

Mr. W clapped his hands.

Lets go, Mr. M, he called to me. Before Pegasus, Perseus and Andromeda make their appearance for the evening.

D and I rolled our eyes. Mr. W was a bit of an astronomy buff, as I'd learned first-hand recently. My father worked at the school as a maintenance man on his days off from his police patrolman job, and hed mentioned to Mr. W one afternoon that I was fascinated by SkyLab and the Apollo space program. So Mr.W arranged a trip to the local planetarium a few weeks ago.

While several of my classmates scoffed at the idea of giving up a Friday to actually learn, both D and I were among a small group who attended. Like everyone else,we had a lot of fun in spite of the evening being besmirched by educational content. The fact that Mr. W and my father, along as a chaperone, took us all out for ice cream sundaes afterwards didnt hurt.

D shook his head as he headed out onto the field. Resigned, I grabbed my glove and headed out as well.

Man, what a nerd, he said, not without affection.

Yeah, I replied. But hes our nerd.

Amen, brother, D said, extended his palm. We clapped palms. I tried to forget about my misgivings as I followed D onto the field.

***

Wrong again, Mr. M, said Mr. W.

 “Are you sure? I replied. The class tittered.

Unlike most teachers, Mr. W didnt bristle when faced with what could be construed as the slightest challenge to his authority.

Yes, Im reasonably certain, he said drily, holding the teachers edition of our math book aloft.

Can I come up to the board? I asked.

Oh, by all means, he said, bowing grandly with a sweeping gesture to the whiteboard at the front of the room.

I stood and walked to the front of the room. This had happened several times lately. I was certain Id had the answer, but in each case I was far off base.

As soon as I reached the board, I realized that Mr. W was correct.

Oh, youre right, I said, studying the figures. "I thought it was something else."


The class erupted. Mr. W nodded and raised his hands in a "nice-try" gesture.

Its all right, Mr. M, you can return to your seat.


He turned to the class, still buzzing.

“At least Mr. M raises his hand and participates in every subject, unlike... some of us.

He lobbed an eraser at D, staring out the window with a blank expression as he often did in math class. It bounced off the side of his head, leaving half his face covered in chalk powder. D smiled sheepishly, picked up the eraser, and flipped it back to Mr. W, who caught it without comment and resumed the class.

"Actually,could I go to the nurse for an aspirin? I've got a headache," I said.

Again? We're already late for history; just get a drink of water from the bubbler and see how you feel at the end of the next period."

I opened the door to the hall and headed for the bubbler. The cold water made me wince and only intensified my headache.  I normally couldn’t swallow pills, but lately I was uncomfortable enough to overcome my phobia.

I headed back to my seat inside, feeling only a little better. I still could use that aspirin, I thought.

***

On theone afternoon a week that my father was working and not immediately leaving fora police detail or staying late to work at the weekly Bingo, I would hang around the school until he finished so we could drive home together. It was one of the few times I got to spend time with him. He was either working his regular police shift (as a still relatively new officer, he worked midnight to8:00 AM, then 4:00 to midnight for two of every three days), making a court appearance for one of his arrests, or picking up overtime or a traffic detail.

As if that werent enough, he, along with my mother, spent what little non-work time he had visiting one the myriad doctors my sister had to see. Shed been badly injured when she was hit by a car during the summer. An alert neighbor, freshly out of the shower, heard the accident and looked out to see my sister lying on the street,bleeding heavily. Acting instinctively, he raced out clad only in a pair of boxer shorts picked her up, and ran a quarter-mile through glass-strewn woods in bare feet to the ER at the local hospital. Doctors told my parents that while you typically never move anyone with a possible head injury (she did, in fact, have a severe concussion), his actions had saved her life, as she likely would have bled to death before an ambulance would have arrived.

By necessity, she was the focus of their attention now. Truth be told, that was already the case; she was Daddys little girl, as he called her, and always had been. My Uncle T, who had six boys, also had a special bond with her.

My brother F, the youngest, on the other hand, was closest to my mother. He wanted nothing more than to follow in my fathers footsteps and become a police officer as well. (And he did.) He spent hours listening to the police scanner for calls for Officer Cookie Monster, as our father was affectionately known, thanks to my grandmothers penchant for delivering his favorite Italian cookies to the police station for her boys, as she referred to his fellow officers.

That left me well, on my own, mostly. I spent most of my time in my room, reading my beloved Peanuts books and studyingthe daily comics even Doonesbury, which fascinated me even though I was too young to understand most of the political references - or drug humor. (I remember my befuddlement when Zonker would carry on a conversation with his plants, for instance.) My quest to figure out what Garry Trudeau was talking about triggered my interest in current events and politics that lasts to this day.

And I would draw them, covering the walls with hundreds of cartoons Id drawn. I even tried my hand at one with my own characters. Its main character was a raccoon, inspired by the bandit-eyed fellow I would see skulking around our back yard from my bedroom window. I called him Ringo, because he had the same sad eyes as the Beatles drummer.

Ringo was always by himself, and even when he paraded across our backyard with what I presumed was his family, he never seemed to be bothered by that fact. I would be out back after school at the picnic table working on my comic strips, and would look up to see him amble out of the woods behind our house. He would saunter over by the large rock in our back yard, and alternately sit in its shade or clamber on top to soak up the sun, depending on the conditions. Occasionally our eyes would meet; we would study each other in silence, then return to our solitary routines. Kindred spirits.

I never really thought much about how much time I spent alone, or how little time I spent with my parents compared to my brother and sister. It just was.

One afternoon I came home from school, excited, report card in hand. Id made the honor roll, quite an achievement given my less-than-stellar math skills. As I walked in, my mother and father were at the door with my sister, putting on their jackets.

Mom, Dad, guess what?

L, could you hold these? asked my mother, handing me my sisters crutches. 

Um, sure, I said, putting down my report card and book bag. Listen

Sorry, hon, but were late for Cs appointment, said my mother as she held Cs arm while she put on her jacket. Were headed into town, so we might not be back for dinner.Could you throw on some hot dogs for you and your brother? And make sure you cook them; he nearly burned down the house the last time he tried to do it himself.

Sure, I said, resigned. 

Thanks, she said. She looked at me for a moment. Her eyes were rimmed with fatigue.

Youre the one I never have to think about, she said. See you later.

The door closed, and I watched as they drove off. 

I gathered up my book bag, report card, and drawing materials and headed out to the backyard. Ringo was already there, waiting. I sat down and picked up my report card.

Hey, Ringo, guess what? I said.

His ears perked up and he cocked his head. I smiled. I knew Ringo would understand. Kindred spirits, after all.

***

I was shooting some baskets in the gym with Mr. W while my father finished his rounds in the school. We had just finished setting up the display on the classroom bulletin board. 

I took a shot. Air ball. Again.

Mr. W grabbed the rebound, eyed the basket for a split second, and then lofted a shot from the far corner just inbounds. Nothing but net.

How do you do that? I asked.

Do what?

Just shoot it, and have it go in like that.

He paused.

I dont know. I just dont think about it, I suppose. He bounced the ball to me. You ought to try it, actually.” 

Dont think? I should never miss then, I joked. He laughed.

You hit your first three shots today, though, he said. 

I thought for a moment. He was right.

Yeah. Huh."

And then what happened?

I dont know.

I told you that you were on fire today.

So?

So... you started to think.

Oh, I said. But what does that have to do with anything?

You knew I was watching.

Well, yeah. There are only two of us. Of course youre watching.

He shook his head.

No. I mean you started thinking about the fact that someone was focusing on you, instead of just trusting your instincts when you shot the ball.

But dont I have to think about where you are when Im shooting?

He started to laugh.

Were saying the same thing, L, but were not.

Huh? I said, baffled. Adults were really weird sometimes.

The door opened at the other end of the gym. My father walked in, juggling his dry mop,broom, dustpan, and brush. He was, as always, drenched in perspiration, even though you could see your breath in the gym. He could sweat while naked in an igloo, I thought. Then again, I was sweating too. I always did, especially when I was nervous or self-conscious.

Did you defeat the dust bunnies? I asked as he approached.

Held em off for another day, he said, mopping his brow. Theyll be back tomorrow. But so will I.

A Sisyphian task if I ever heard of one, Mr. W said.

If that means the damn things never go away, then yeah, its that.

They both laughed. My Dad really liked Mr. W. He didnt like many people, mostly as a result of ten-plus years on the police force. Besides, Mr. W wasnt one of those smart people who makes other people feel stupid, he would say. He makes you feel smart too.

How are your classes going this semester? Mr. W asked my father. On top of working two jobs and attending to my sister, my father was also going tonight school to get his college degree in Criminal Justice.

Oh, you know, you do what you can. In fact, he was a straight Astudent a status he maintained until he eventually received his Masters degree six years later - the same day I graduated from high school, in fact.

So, how was everyone elses Thursday? my father asked as we headed to the supply closet. 

I walked over to the master panel to flip off the lights. Mr. W reached for the dry mop and broom from my father, who handed them over without protest. Hed learned long ago not to argue when Mr. W did so. I put myself through school with one of these, he told us one afternoon as he and my father filled thet rash bag I was holding with the leaves theyd raked from the front lawn. Always good to keep up the muscle memory.

"Not bad. Although L here may be asking Santa for a calculator, I suspect," said Mr. W. "Right, L?"

"I guess. Or at least an abacus."

"Why do you need either one?" my father asked.

"Actually,what I could really use is a telescope. I feel like I'm in the next classroom sitting in the back of the room."

"I have you and D there because I know I don't have to worry about you. You both do your work and keep quiet," said Mr. W.

"Yeah,but I'd rather sit up closer. I keep having headaches. I think I need to get my eyes checked."

"That's why you had the eye surgery, remember? my father said. That took care of everything."

"I didn't know you had eye surgery, L," said Mr. W.

"Yeah,when I was a kid."

“Right, when you were younger,” he said, glancing at my father with a wry expression. “What was it for?”

“Ambly – I can never pronounce it.”

“It’s lazy eye, basically” said my father. “We took the kids to a Lions Club vision screening years ago, and they caught it. His left eye wandered, and it was bad enough that they had to operate.”

“And how old were you?” asked Mr. W.

“Five, I guess.”

“And the surgery worked?”

“That’s what the doctor said.” I had nothing to compare it against, so I didn’t really know, but the doctor said it worked, so that made sense to me.

“It must’ve been scary,” Mr. W said.

“No, it wasn’t too bad,” said my father. “He got all the ice cream and Mounds bars he could eat.” He paused. “For such a skinny kid he can really pack away those Mounds bars. Still can.”

“Ice cream, candy, and being waited on hand and foot? Sounds like a good deal,” said Mr. W.

I was silent. My memory differed.

There was another boy about my age in the bed next to me. I wastoo young to understand what was wrong, but he was very ill. We made friendsquickly; we both loved the same comic books.

We were trading them back and forth from one bed to another my first night in the hospital, when he suddenly stopped talking and began violently convulsing. The room was filled instantly with doctors and nurses,shouting orders and screaming for a stretcher.

After a few moments I recall one of the nurses turning in my direction for a moment, doing a double take, then quickly reaching up and pulling shut the curtain between the two beds. The stretcher came moments later, and he was whisked away. He never returned to the room. I never found out what happened to him.

My only memory of the surgery is lying on the operating room table as the anesthesiologist asked me to count backward from 100. Afterwards,I have a hazy memory – in every sense of the word – of being in my hospitalroom as my doctor and parents stood over me. I assume he had removed the bandages and was trying to get me to open my eyes. Everything was bathed in a blurry, pinkish haze, their faces distorted monstrously. I don’t remember if I was crying, but I’m sure I was.

When I was allowed to return home, I recall that I was reluctant– in retrospect, perhaps terrified is more accurate – to open my eyes. It seemed as if it were weeks, but in all likelihood it was a matter of days. Butit was clearly longer than what my doctor or parents expected. The special treatment, of necessity ended after a few days. They had two other children, after all.

It was a steamy summer morning and I was lying on the couch in the living room, alone; my brother and sister, no doubt, were out playing. My feet were propped up on the back of the couch and my head dangling over the seat. A talk show droned on in the background until it reached the commercial break. 

Then my favorite commercial came on – the one with the Ty-D Bol man. The idea of a little man riding a boat in our toilet bowl always struck the five-year-old me as hilarious, especially when he sped off at the end of each commercial. Where the heck was he going, I would wonder. He's in a toilet bowl, for crying out loud!

Suddenly I realized I could see the Ty-D-Bowl man -upside down. I panicked momentarily – then realized I was looking at the television upside down.

Huh, I remember thinking as I sat upright. Well, that was easy.

I could hear my mother in the kitchen, drinking coffee with our next-door neighbors, E and P. I liked them enormously. They were newlyweds, still without children. They would let the neighborhood kids run wild in their backyard; when P came home from work, he would join us in playing street hockey or wiffle ball until E laughingly called out to tell him that all of the children had to come in for supper. Before we would leave, she would give us freshly-baked cookies to take home for dessert.

I walked out strutted, more likely to the kitchen.

Hey, guess what? I announced. I opened my eyes!

My mother nodded almost imperceptibly.

“Uh-huh,” she said, sipping her coffee.

E looked at her husband P. She quickly turned to me, flashed her dazzling smile, and exclaimed, “That’s great, L! I’m proud of you! You must be so excited!”

“Well, it's good, but the doctor said he should’ve opened them days ago,” said my mother. She turned to me. “Why don’t you go get dressed and go outside to play with your friends.We’re talking.”

I stood there for a moment, then wordlessly went into my room to change out of my pajamas.

“L? I said it sounded like you had a good deal. Right?” 

It was Mr W.

 “Yup. A good deal,” I said.

***

As D had promised, the first four and a half innings passed without incident. He galloped over to snare the only ball hit remotely close tome before I could even get started.

Even better, he belted a massive three-run homer off Mr. W (who was pitching for both teams) that sailed far over the head of the left fielder and disappeared into the dense forest that surrounded the baseball diamond.They were the only runs of the game.

Miraculously, I even managed to eke out a hit in my final at-bat,swinging blindly at an outside pitch and blooping a soft popup that somehow fell between the pitcher, catcher, second baseman, shortstop, and third baseman near the pitcher’s mound. D whooped his approval from the bench.

“That’s a line drive in the scorecard, L!” he said. I grinned as I heard my teammates jokingly say I had to demonstrate my batting stroke after the game. This was a first.

“Someone put that dying quail out of its misery!” called out Mr.W from the mound. The entire class stared, mystified.

“Never mind,” he said. “Next batter! Hurry – it’s getting dark,”he said.

The next batter quickly grounded out to first base, leaving me stranded.

“Okay, everyone – last at-bat!” said Mr. W as we ran to our positions in the field.

“It’s getting kind of dark, Mr. W,” I said. “You can’t really see the ball.”

“Sure you can!” he said. “If we hurry we can just make it.”

D brought my glove over as I trotted, resigned, to the outfield. Oh well, it’s only three more outs, I thought.

They quickly loaded the base with no outs, but, again, D made a running catch on two consecutive fly balls over his head. I marveled at how he seemed to know instinctively where the ball would end up.

“This is it, people! Last batter!” called Mr. W from the mound.

Not too bad, I thought. I didn’t make a fool of myself,and even got a hit. I’ll take it.

Then I heard the crack of the bat.

“L! L! It’s yours – to your left!” It was D. “Hurry!”

I scanned the darkening sky, frantically trying to spot the ball. Somehow I picked it out of the gloom and sprinted full-tilt towards the edge of the woods. I relaxed, as I knew it would take a running catch to haul it in, but that I had it in my sights.

Until I didn’t. It vanished into the hazy September night sky.

Suddenly, the ball seemed to materialize out of nowhere. I threw my glove up in front of my face. I heard it tip off the top of the webbing,then slam into my face just below my right eye. Still racing towards the woods,I watched in horror as the ball somehow dropped straight down and I kicked it into the dense forest.

I scrambled after it, desperately trying to locate it in the dense underbrush. I heard D’s feet as he pounded in my direction, and the excited cries of my classmates screaming in an indistinguishable jumble.

“L! L! Hurry! They’re all gonna score!” I heard D cry out.

I spotted the ball, lodged under a fallen tree branch. I pulled it out and raced back towards the field, dodging trees the entire way. I saw D standing at the edge of the woods.

“Here! L! Let me throw – “ D stopped, his face ashen.

 “Mr. W! Mr. W!” he screamed. “Come quick! Hurry!”

But Mr. W was already on his way, racing out from the pitchers mound. All motion on the field had stopped, the runners frozen in their places as everyone looked in my direction.

“D, here!” I said, holding out the ball. “You can still throw them out!”

“L,” he said, visibly shaken, “Look at your shirt.”

I glanced down. My neon orange t-shirt with the Baretta iron-on decal I’d worn to impress the ladies was covered in blood. As was the ball in my hand.

“D!, said Mr. W, breathless, as he arrived. “Quick! Go back to camp and get the first-aid kit and as much ice as you can carry! And tell Mrs.P to go with you and drive you back in my car. Hurry!”

D sprinted off, long legs kicking up sod.

“Did I lose us the game?” I asked Mr. W, still holding the ball.

“Don’t worry about that,” he said gently, taking the blood-soaked ball from my hand. He stripped off his shirt and handed it to meas he gasped my arm. “Here – sit down, tilt your head back, and hold this to your face.”

I did as I was told. I suddenly had a ferocious headache and felt nauseous.

“What happened?” I asked as he sat down beside me and rubbed my back.

“The ball hit you in the face,” he said. He put his head in his hands.

“This is my fault,” he said. “It’s all my fault.”

***

“You’re a lucky young man,” said the doctor in the emergency room as he finished putting the last stitch in place beneath my eye. “Another inch and it would’ve hit you right in the eye.”

The cut, as it turned out, only required a few stitches. Mr. W expounded at length about how blood flows in our body and why head wounds typically yield disproportionately large amounts of blood compared to the size of the cut, stopping only when the doctor noted wryly that I was turning whiter than the bedsheets.

“You’re going to have quite the shiner,” he said as he pulled off his latex gloves. Two of them, in fact. Play your cards right andyou’ll have the girls in your class eating out of your hand.”

That struck me as highly unlikely, but I held my tongue.

“So you say you lost sight of the ball?” he asked.

I started to nod, then winced. My head throbbed, even after the two aspirin I’d forced down.

“Yes. “

“Do you wear glasses?”

“No. I don’t need them,” I said.

“You sound awfully certain. Why do you say that?” he asked.

“I had eye surgery when I was a baby and they said my eyes are all better.”

“Who said it?”

“The doctors. My parents.”

OK. But what do you say?” he said.

“I’m sorry, what do you mean?”

“Do you think your eyes are better?”

“Well, yeah. I mean, they said they’re fine, so they’re fine, right?”

The doctor nodded.

“Let me try something.” He walked to the other side of the room and turned off the lights.

“L, could you read what the chart on the wall says for me?”

I squinted.

“’Venereal diseases cover the earth. Learn to protect – ‘”

Mr. W cleared his throat.

“Uh, I think he means the chart on the far wall, L.”

“Oh.”

I turned to the other wall. The chart was, for the most part, an indistinguishable blur.

“What’s the last line you can read clearly?” the doctor asked.

I squinted some more.

“The third line. I think.”

“Can you try the fifth line?”

I began, hesitant. “A… F… I think…”

“That’s fine, L, thanks,” the doctor said. “We can move on. How about the fourth line?”

“F… W… O… and… P? Maybe? No… D.”

The doctor and Mr. W exchanged glances. The doctor flipped the lights back on.

“How did I do?” I asked.

He hesitated for a moment.

“I think you should see an eye doctor once your stitches are out and the swelling has gone down,” the doctor said. “You need glasses.”

“Really?” I asked. “Are you sure?”

He nodded.

“I’m amazed you’ve gone this long without them.”

He turned to Mr. W. “How are his grades?”

Mr. W looked at me.

“He’s one of my best students.”

“Well, you must be a very determined young man, because you’reworking at quite a disadvantage.”

“How?” I asked, dubious. “I mean, I’m not sure what the big deal is.”

“Well, since you’ve never had good eye sight, that makes perfect sense. You have nothing to compare it to. But in a nutshell, you’re only looking out of one eye. So you overcompensate with the other eye – which is also weak.No wonder you have headaches all the time. Why didn’t you tell anyone?”

“He did,” said Mr. W. “He told me, for one.”

The doctor nodded, then put a hand on my shoulder and smiled.

“I think you’re going to be amazed at what you can see in just a few weeks,” he said.

***

We were in the car, headed back for the camp. It was nearly midnight. We had stopped on the way so Mr. W could call my parents, then stopped at Friendly’s for a late dinner, as we had missed the cookout the rest of the class was having. The Red Sox game was in extra innings, but they had pulled ahead and were looking to close out the Jays.

“L, I owe you an apology,” said Mr. W abruptly.

“For what?”

“For ignoring you.”

I shrugged.

“It’s OK, Mr. W.”

“No. No, it isn’t all right. You told me you were having headaches, and I didn’t listen. You told me myself and your father that you were having trouble seeing the board – several times – and I didn’t listen.”

He paused.

“And this is the result.”

I didn’t know what to say.

“I can’t make your eye better, but I can promise I’ll do my best to pay attention from now on. And again, I apologize.”

“Thank you, Mr. W. Any chance I can get extra credit on my tests? You know, since I’m working at a disadvantage and all?”

“Sure. But only if I hold the tests against the far wall and make you take it from the other side of the room.”

“Oh, well, never mind then.”

“I thought as much.”

***

“So, let’s see the new spectacles.”

It was two weeks later on a Friday afternoon. My father and I had just picked up my new glasses from the eyeglass store. At Mr. W’s request, we had walked the three blocks back to the school from the store so he could see them.

I pulled the gold aviator frames from their case and slipped them on. The doctor had been right; I was amazed at the difference. I couldn’tbelieve what I had missed all these years.

Mr. W nodded his approval.

“They make you appear very erudite.”

“If that means ‘dorky,’ then yeah, that’s what it does.”

Mr. W and my father laughed.

“You’ll just have to be careful when you’re riding your bike with those on,” said Mr. W.

“Why?”

“There’s a difference between what you see when you look straight ahead with your glasses and what you see off to the side without them,”said my father. “It can take your eyes a few seconds to adjust, so you may not see everything while that’s going on.”

I tried it out. They were right.

“Huh. Thanks. I’ll remember that.”

“It’s the same when you drive a car,” said Mr. W. “They have blind spots.”

"What’s that?” I asked as I pulled out the cleaning cloth. I wondered how a thumbprint had appeared when I hadn’t touched the lens.

“Well, it varies depending on the model of the car,” my father said. “But basically, there are certain places where you can't seewhat’s going on when you look.”

“Oh,” I said as I finished polishing the lenses. “So everyone has blind spots then?”

There was no reply. I looked up. Mr. W and my father were looking at me.

“Right,” said my father. “Right.”

***

This song was released years before these events took place. But I love Steely Dan (Aja was the first album I ever bought - at 12 years old, no less!), and the title is my cover to post this:


This was the original lineup, incidentally, with Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and Denny Dias ripping it up on guitar. Baxter soon left to join The Doobie Brothers and - honest to God - become a leading counterterrorism expert. (Talk about disparate careers!)

Posting this one too. It's a great song, more or less era-appropriate, and offers an excuse to look back to when the Top 40 still had room for musicians with actual talent. :c)


2 comments:

Caroline on January 14, 2013 at 9:49 AM said...

Have to admit that I am just dipping in and was caught by the Al Stewart tag.

Forty years ago I was at his concerts when he just toured alone with a guitar, I fore his LPs out on repeat play, memories...

Cassidy on January 14, 2013 at 7:32 PM said...

Hi Caroline!

That clip is pretty great, isn't it? I must confess that I only know his hits here in the States ("Year of the Cat" and "Time Passages"). But what hits!

He strikes me as one of those artists who deserve far more acclaim than they receive. I suspect his discography is well worth exploring beyond the hits. Perhaps this is a sign I should do so now.

Bruce Cockburn, one of my favorite songwriters, is similar. He has much, much more to offer than "Wondering Where The Lions Are," "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" and "Lovers in a Dangerous Time," wonderful as those songs are. Actually, if you like Al Stewart, you would like him as well. Cockburn is a literate writer, a terrific singer, and an incredible guitarist. (He has an all-intsrumental album, in fact.)

Thank you for the comment, Caroline. I'm adding Al Stewart to my list of artists to explore. :c)

Hugs,
Cass

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