November 7th, 2008

Bruce, Caroline

Blind Optimism: LJ Idol, Week 6

I've always said, and rightly, that being blind requires a great deal of
trust. Many's the time you have to trust the person leading you, the
person driving you, etc., to know what they're doing, and to be reliable
as a person, even though you may have just met the person minutes ago.

But as I sit here reflecting, I realize that hope and trusting go
hand-in-hand. I trust person A, and I then must hope that person A is
worthy of that trust.

The place: The West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta. The time:
Reading Week, 1991, my last year in college. The girl: Arlene; student,
friend, fellow choir member.

At the center of the mall is a place called Fantasy Land. It's basically
an amusement park inside the mall, with roller coaster, water slides,
and so on. One of the rides you can go on, or at least you could back
then, is the Drop of Doom. Basically, you pay a lot of money so you can
fall. Manitoba winters give us this privilege at no charge, though I
have no doubt the government is even now trying to figure out a way to
put a tax on it. I hope they don't. So anyway, I had taken this
ride several times. Apparently I had more money than I knew what to do
with, a notion that seems incongruous with most of my memories of
college life. But I was tired of this ride, so when Arlene, who was
leading me around, wanted to go on it yet again, I opted out. "Show me a
place to sit," I implored, "and I'll just wait this one out." I
hoped she would accept my request. She did.

And so, I sat there and waited, hoping she had not forgotten me.
I waited, I hoped. I hoped, I waited. And just when I got to feeling
that Arlene wasn't coming back for me, she didn't come back for me.

It was about an hour and a half later. I was still sitting in my happy
little corner, contemplating whether or not I'd ever get back together
with my family, loved ones, and former friend (my thoughts about Arlene
were not especially charitable at this point, although I hoped to
see her again at some point so I could spell out in considerable detail
my opinions of that afternoon's proceedings). Just when I was beginning
to lose hope, a friendly voice (not Arlene's) asked, "Have you been

Quick math break. Had I? I'd been waiting for the last hour and a half.
Arlene's falling-down ride lasted for, oh, eight seconds. I decided I
must have been, and said so. I thus got reunited with the choir, still
hoping for a chance at a little chitchat with dear Arlene.

Several hours later, I was in a food court, drinking a well-deserved
Coke, when Arlene appeared on the scene. My hopes had been
fulfilled. I waited for the apology, I waited for a chance to give her a
cold reception. I did not get the former, but got more than ample
opportunity for the latter. Her first words to me: not "Oh man, I'm
sorry, Bruce", not "Oh my gosh, Bruce, I totally forgot", not even "Hi
Bruce, did you enjoy sitting in a corner all afternoon?" Her first words
to me were: "Bruce, can I borrow five bucks?" I hoped she was
kidding. That hope was not realized. She was dead serious. I, too, was
deadly serious in my absolute, flat-out, indignant refusal.

I did eventually forgive Arlene, though I made it a point of taking my
sweet time letting her know that all was forgiven. Watching her suck up
to me was the most entertainment I'd had in a long time. So the story
has a happy ending, and I hope you enjoyed it.