A Day in the Life I shared a typical day “on the road” and some of the up’s and down’s of traveling the country with a (very sexy) blind guy and his Seeing Eye dog.
If you’re around us very long you’ll see pretty quickly how much “education” is a part of our lives. Luckily for us – it’s a part we both fully embrace. And it’s a really good thing we both have a very good (uhhh okay, slightly warped…) sense of humor! The questions range from extremely typical: “What’s the dog’s name?” “Can I pet him?” to the rather absurd. And I got a really good one earlier this week.
We were up on Long Island for Marcus to speak, sitting in the cafeteria before heading to the auditorium. As our client came over and was talking to Marc a student rushed over to me with a look of total horror on her face and blurted out, “He’s blind???” / “Yes.” / “Oh poor dog! What happened to him?!?” / “Oh the man is blind. That’s a guide dog.” / “Well how does THAT work?” / “Uhhhh…. Well…”
Okay. So she left convinced a blind dog was leading around a blind guy. And all we could do is laugh!
I think it often takes courage to ask a question of someone ‘different,’ so both Marcus and I really feel honored when a stranger is willing to reach out with a question. And there really isn’t anything off limits – any respectful question gets our best, most honest answer. And if you don’t believe that, you should have heard Marcus respond to the taxi driver yesterday who, as Garrett was climbing in the cab, asked urgently,“Doggie OK? He no pee-pee?”
There are some things that have a direct impact on our lives – and one is stereotypes. What a person has been exposed to tends to color how they view blindness in general. And if what they’ve seen has been limited to TV it is often quite skewed from reality! (No – Marcus cannot hear (or smell) a mosquito fart from 100 yards away since becoming blind.)
To be really, really honest I tend to get frustrated with most of the media portrayals of blindness. Not that I let myself invest too much energy into “spitting into the wind” – but I do often roll my eyes. So when an actor or actress takes time to “get it right” I feel a very profound sense of gratitude. And so I’m going to take a moment to talk about it because … well this is my blog and I can! 🙂
The character of Adam Newman on The Young and the Restless recently had a story line where he was suddenly blinded. Now, it is a soap, so of course the blindness won’t last long and daytime dramas are usually not lauded for being “realistic” in the overall plots. But that didn’t stop actor Michael Muhney, who plays Adam, from approaching the story line with precision and passion. He researched the emotional journey of suddenly loosing one’s sight and took portraying those initial stages with compassion and integrity. (And he made me cry so he darn well better win the emmy!) (BTW – very fun follow http://www.Twitter.com/MichaelMuhney)
Then there is one of my all time favorite characters: Auggie Anderson from the USA show Covert Affairs (and if you haven’t watched it – you should give it a try!). Actor Chris Gorham plays Auggie, a military war hero who was blinded in action and now is the coolest CIA agent ever! I absolutely love the way the character’s personality comes first – his skills, his intelligence, his humor, even his uhhh way with the ladies – and blindness is just part of who he is. Almost a side note. I read an interview where Chris went into detail about how he spent time with guys who’ve “been thru it” and advocated for keeping the details of blindness accurate on the show, often using real adaptive devices, etc. He’s also become a strong presence in the disability community at large and does a lot of work educating and promoting related causes.(Another great follow http://www.Twitter.com/ChrisGorham)
Taking the time to portray things both realistically and in a positive light really does impact the day to day of our lives – and our interaction with the public. So thank you Mr. Muhney and Mr. Gorham.
One of our favorite things is something that happens quite a lot. We’ll be in line to check into a hotel, or riding in an elevator, or on the subway, and you’ll hear the tiny voice of an excited child, “Look Mommy! A doggie!!” and then the child considers it a moment and in the proud voice that only a very wise five year old can posses they quickly inform their parents, “That is a working dog tho – so don’t pet him! He has an important job!”
And we always smile. Because somewhere, someone took the time to give him the 411 of service animals, and in the precious innocent way of a child, he unashamedly passes along his best advice.
Of course each person is an individual with their own feelings and approach, so we do NOT pretend to speak for everyone. But if you’ve read Misadventures very long you know that I’ve discussed nearly peeing myself in First Class, seeing a man with four boobs, sitting in a strangers lap on the subway, stealing a purse and sucking marshmallow fluff thru a straw – so I hope you know you are free to ask anything! And don’t worry – if it’s a really dumb question we’ll just laugh and then I’ll write a blog about it. But I won’t use your real name. Pinky swear.