Dining in the Dark


Yesterday, Russ and I paid good money to eat food we couldn’t see. The dinner was a fundraiser for the Lighthouse Center for Vision Loss, a local group that helps people with vision problems. (You may recall that I volunteer for this group by reading the Sunday newspaper aloud over the airwaves once a month.)

The event was hosted by a local TV news personality and the keynote speaker was a man who lost his vision due to retinitis pigmentosa. From him, I learned that blind people make jokes just like the rest of us (imagine that!) and that 66% of visually impaired adults are unemployed.

Another speaker before the dinner was a woman who lost her vision to diabetes. Her best joke was that this was one night when she didn’t have to worry about how awful she eats. (Because everyone else will be blindfolded. Get it? Maybe you had to be there.)

Then two speakers instructed us on how to go about eating when blindfolded. The main tips were: to sit close to the table; put a napkin in your lap or tuck it into your shirt; feel slowly with your hands where your silverware and drinks are first; think of your plate as a clock face and have someone tell you where your food is in relationship to that; use the edge of your fork to circle your meat and determine what size it is; and keep the sharp side of your knife down when cutting meat.

Before the food was brought out, we were instructed to don black blindfolds that were provided near our place settings. Once our plates arrived, I cheated and took mine off so I could tell Russ where his food was on his plate.

I found that cutting meat was the hardest part. I attempted several cuts, but couldn’t tell if my knife was  sharp-side-down or not. I ended up just stabbing a large piece of pork and tearing off pieces with my teeth — not exactly fancy dinner behavior, but hey, it worked. I appreciated the advice about reaching slowly for water glasses and silverware. I am proud to report no spillage or droppage.

Once I mostly emptied my plate, finding the remaining food became more difficult. I can’t imagine having to eat that way all the time. The experience gave me a greater appreciation for the challenges that visually impaired people face and the important work that organizations like the Lighthouse Center do.

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