Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Adventures of Dating a Visually-Impaired Guy

Though most people seem surprised when I tell them, I actually was a runner before I met Matt.  In fact, I met Matt one week before I ran my first Marine Corps Marathon.  That was ten years ago this month!   Since Matt lost his vision in college I never knew him when he was fully sighted.  Sometimes people are surprised when I tell them that, too.  So in honor of this anniversary, I thought I would give you a few funny snippets about my adventures dating a visually-impaired guy. 

When I met Matt, I knew he didn’t have perfect vision based on some passing commentary from our mutual friend, but I didn’t know the extent of his visual impairment.  We met by happenstance.  I had plans with Tom, a friend I met while interning in college and Tom invited his high school friend Matt, who had moved to the area earlier that year, to join us.  Since we met right before my marathon, we spent most of the night talking about running and most likely boring Tom.  We went to a tea house.  I remember watching Matt attempt to pour his tea.  He successfully poured the water out of the tea pot, but I’m not convinced much of made it in the tea cup.  In fact, it went in the saucer and mostly on the table.  At the time I thought maybe he'd never poured tea, but didn’t think too much of it.  He lived right by one of the marathon water stops so he said he’d go out and look for me during the race.  At the time I didn’t realize how impossible that would be for him.  

On our first date we met at a pizza place for dinner.  We had a great time.  When the check came he insisted on paying.  I saw the bill and was shocked when he pulled out his money to pay and left a 50 percent tip.  I had no idea it was because he didn’t want to ask me what the bill was and guessed, which is why he had cash instead of just using a credit card.  At the time I thought he was a very generous tipper.  Now I know that he’s actually rather cheap! 

On our second date we went to a movie after dinner.  We had some time to kill so he suggested we walk around Barnes and Noble, which was next to the theater, to kill some time.  He’d randomly pick up books and look at the title.  I’d ask if he read it, and he’d say no.  It wasn’t until our third date when he told me a bit more about his vision that I realized that he couldn’t have read the book titles in the bookstore. 

When he told me about his vision he explained that he didn’t have any central vision so he couldn’t see me.  He said he centers his blind spot so it looks like he is making eye contact.  I remember asking him if he could tell if I was looking at him or not or what color my eyes were.  When he said he couldn’t I began a little test for the rest of dinner to see if he noticed when I wasn’t looking at him.  I started small and just looked down and then I started moving my head to look in different places.  He obviously didn’t see me because he kept focused straight ahead completely oblivious to my test.  Side note, but after we had been dating almost a year he told me how family had been asking him a lot of questions about me and one was what color my eyes were.  When he said he didn't know because he can't see them they stopped beating him up with questions, but it did prompt him to ask me.  

Matt and I trained with different running clubs.  About six months into dating our clubs were focused on training for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler.  Every once in a while our running clubs would cross paths.  One Saturday morning Matt and his pace group went zipping by us.  About fifty yards ahead was a large electrical box.  Matt slammed right into it, stopped, shook off the pain, and kept running to catch up with his group.  One of the girls I was running with looked at me and asked if I saw what just happened and why he didn't say hello when he passed.  I told her he was visually impaired and Matt usually tried to brush off his “run ins” so as to not bring attention to himself. There were many Saturday mornings when Matt wouldn’t even know he'd passed me on the running trails unless I called out to him.  You probably already read about his run in with the fire hydrant from one of my earlier posts -- likely the most hurt he has gotten while out running!  

Matt joined my friend Jenn and me for dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant one evening.  Matt ordered shish kabobs.  They came with the meat still on the stick.  After staring at his plate for a few moments, he grabbed his fork and tried to use it to get the meat off of the stick.  Every time he attempted he missed.  He’d either hit too far to the left or right.  He got closer and closer trying to help his aim.  Jenn and I watched several attempts before finally telling him he could just use his hands.  He said he was trying to be polite.  We probably should have said something sooner, but it was pretty funny watching his determination.

And my favorite...

Matt and I were sitting in a booth at a restaurant one afternoon for lunch.  He got up to go to the bathroom.  He came back and sat down and started talking to me only it wasn’t me because he had sat down at the wrong booth.  The woman was completely stunned and didn’t answer him.  Finally, he realized he must have miscounted the booths and got up quickly and came to my table.  This time he cautiously asked if it was me before he sat down.   

I could probably go on, but I’ll stop there.  Stay tuned for future installments of being married to a visually-impaired guy and raising kids with a visually-impaired guy. Each has had unique mishaps and adventures.  I'm sure you all have funny stories of things that have happened while you have been hanging out with Matt so I'd love to hear about them!  


If you haven’t yet, we hope you’ll sign up to either run the National Race to End Women’s Cancer on Team Daddy’s Blind Ambition or make a donation to our team.  The race is on November 8th!!  It is a great race and a great cause and we’d appreciate your support.  Here’s the link to join us or make a donation:

Happy Running!
Here we are when we were dating.  We both had just finished the 2006 Marine Corps Marathon