Monday, July 24, 2006

how i found something to keep me from reading

i was well into my way into malcolm gladwell's "the tipping point" when two blind people walked onto my bus. the guy was much more blind than she was. he had a walking cane, and he wasn't able to see or spot the five empty seats on each side of the bus.

very blind indeed.

anyways, they sit down together, and they begin small talk. that doesn't bother my reading habits, although i usually register what people say. but at some point shortly after...

her: "what's the name of the guy you work out with?"
him: "which guy?"
her: "the black guy."
him: "which one?"
her: "with the mustache?"
her: "oh, kevin."

okay, this got me thinking. i know that most blind people actually see something. they see blobs of color or just flares of light. i get that. but this guy couldn't see rows of empty seats on each side or in front of him. maybe he can also make out the color of someone's skin. but again, could he really? he couldn't see seats. did he describe kevin due to some social stereotypes? is this a racist blind man? does this blind man see color?

and then she further described the black man as the one with the mustache. now, i'm sure that this following statement will get me in some sort of trouble, but due to color contrasts, it's not the easiest thing in the world to spot a mustache on a black man - even if you have perfect vision. seriously. billy dee williams. ossie davis. spike lee. all men with mustaches. but they're not sam elliott mustaches. you gotta work for them. maybe kevin's got a white mustache? why would she describe kevin as a black guy with a mustache when he couldn't...

you know where i'm going with this.

okay, obviously he knows that kevin has a mustache because he's able to feel his face. but a mustache for most of us is just something you grow on your face for a couple of days or weeks because you're too lazy to shave. so that condition on his upper lip could just be temporary. and is it fair for kevin to keep the 'stache just to be identifiable? does kevin need his face touched each time he's introduced?

then again, maybe kevin is a fireman or a policeman. it's a known fact that 90% of the mustaches in the world belong to firemen or policemen (obviously this survey does not include the middle east). so wouldn't it have made sense for the woman to describe kevin as the fireman or the policeman, thereby giving him an identity other than a physical feature that this man can't see or even predict will still be there?

okay, this is why i closed my book. i'm completely insane.


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