One afternoon back in March, Molly and I were on the El headed downtown from Evanston campus when a blind man with the most gorgeous golden retriever of a seeing-eye dog boarded our train. We watched as the man and his dog sauntered over and took a seat right next to ours.
Dog and myself must have felt a connection because immediately after settling in, she began to sniff in the vicinity of my hand. Smiling (but for whose benefit I wasn’t sure—I wondered whether it was true you could hear a genuine smile in someone’s speech), I directed my voice toward the blind man.
“Excuse me,” I asked, pondering standard protocol with regards to seeing-eye dogs, “but would you mind if I said hello to your dog?”
The man turned his head toward me. “Yeah, go right ahead.”
I patted the dog atop the head. She responded by inclining it toward me and nudging my hand when I stopped.
“Here, take this,” the blind man said, clutching something in his hand and holding it up over the back of his seat for me to receive. I reached over and grazed his hand to let him know he could drop the item in my hand. It was a doggy treat.
“Give her that, and she’ll love you forever,” he said.
I held the treat out to the dog and she lapped it up eagerly, giving my hand a few extra licks to express her gratitude.
“She’s so pretty,” I cooed, thoroughly seduced by her canine ways.
The blind man beamed. “Yeah, she’s a real sweetheart.”
“How old is she?”
“No, she looks 2.”
“She definitely acts that way too.”
I laugh. Then I proceed to tell him about my own dog and how neither puberty nor adolescence has drained him of his everlasting puppy energy. We laugh some more as we compare notes on dog-rearing.
After a while, the blind man rummaged in his pocket then held out his hand again. “Here,” he said.
I reached over expecting another tidbit to buy the canine’s favor with and was surprised to feel stiff parchment instead. I looked down at my hand.
“Yup, that’s my business card,” my conversation partner said, as if he could read my movements. “My number’s right there. Call me sometime. We should go out.”
Then before I could even respond, he stood up gracefully and glided to the door to exit at his stop…
…and walked straight into a pole.
He wasn’t the only one to let out a gasp of surprise. It was as if Molly and I could personally feel the sting of humiliation at the ruin of the perfect exit.
As soon as the man had alighted from the train, we couldn’t help ourselves but to burst into laughter.
“Girl,” Molly wheezed. “That guy must have really liked the sound of your voice.”
“Damn dog,” I muttered, tears welling in my eyes. “Perfectly charming but a complete seeing-eye fail. Such a smooth exit too”
“He’s blind,” Molly said, sobering. “So we can give him that.
“It totally doesn’t count,” I agreed.
We look at each other and can’t help but giggle again.
“But hey,” Molly said, finally catching her breath. “Even with that last bit, that was still the slickest date request I’ve ever seen.”
* * * * *
Note: I never actually called him because I figured a clean rejection was the kindest way to go, but I had to admit the dog trick kinda works.