Love is Blind

by Nick Brady

Chapter 6

That was all we heard of it. When the remaining bottles remained intact, we put them in the refrigerator and sampled one several days later. It was potent but pretty tasty. That was our last attempt at home brew.

All's well that ends well.

The attempt at beer making was a learning experience and one that was not repeated. However, there were 7 bottles still intact. We thought about inviting Stuart over to sample one but were afraid to feed the stuff to anyone else before we tried it ourselves. We picked a Saturday night for the tasting.

"Are you ready to try one of these?" I asked Ian.

"Sure. I'm game. After all, we went through to make it, we have to at least try one."

We sat at the kitchen table and I poured the contents of one of the quarts of home brew into a pair of tall glasses, being careful not to disturb the thin layer of sediment at the bottom.

"It looks pretty good, I told Ian. "It's dark and has a nice head on it. What do you think?"

"It smells good. Kind of funky, but good. Shall we try it?"

"Cheers." I took a cautious sip. "Not bad. What do you think?"

Ian sniffed, sipped, then took a longer drink. "I like it. It has a lot of flavor."

I put a bowl of peanuts on the table and we munched and sipped until our glasses were empty. "Actually, I think this is pretty good stuff. Want to try another?"

"Half a quart is just a pint," Ian calculated. "It wouldn't hurt to have another. This is really good."

I topped up our glasses again and we moved into the living room to recline on the sofa. I had used the recipe my friend had given me but had no experience in brewing. If I had done this right, I would have used a hydrometer to gauge the proper time to bottle and cap the beer which might have prevented the under-sink explosion. I might also have realized that the alcohol content of our brew was considerably higher than the 3.2 percent alcohol by volume that Oklahoma state law allowed at the time. This was potent stuff. But, it tasted good and went down rather smoothly. We liked it.

After the second glass, we discussed eating some supper.

"Are you hungry?" I asked.

"I don't know. This stuff is pretty filling and we've been eating peanuts. What do you think?"

I let out a long low belch. "I think I'd like another. You ready?"

"Yeah, sure," Ian said with a crooked smile. "That sounds like a good idea. Got any more peanuts?"

After the third beer, we were feeling pretty good. Ian announced that he needed to pee and stood up.

"Oh!" he said.

"What's wrong?"

"I'm a little dizzy. Do you think maybe I got up too fast?

I stood to take his arm and experienced the same sensation. "You think maybe it was the beer?"

"Could be," Ian giggled. "I need to go to the bathroom."

"Me too, let's go together." We weaved our way to the toilet and emptied our bladders side by side, fencing with the yellow streams. I looked over at Ian and said. "You look pretty good."

He shook himself then replied. "You know that I look with my hands."

"Have a look," I giggled.

He did, and I did, then I suggested, "Maybe we ought to lie down until the dizziness passes."

"Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. Let's get naked."

I thought that was a great idea and we proceeded to strip and collapse on the closest bed, smooching and rubbing ourselves together. Ian and I had satisfied each other in various ways. We liked to kiss and rub together until we made a mess between ourselves. I had kissed him down his front until I found what I was looking for and swallowed him whole. He liked that a lot and discovered that it was at least as blessed to give as to receive. We did that fairly often once we broke the ice.

I loved Ian and wanted to make him happy. I was satisfied with what we did, but based on my past experience, knew that there was a little more that could be done. We were quite relaxed by our intake of beverage and to my mind, it seemed like a good time to try something new.

"Raise your legs," I suggested and proceeded to push his knees to his chest. "How does this feel?" I asked as I bent down and used my tongue to give him a new experience.

"Oh! Do you really want to be doing that?"

"I'm doing it. Do you like it?"

"Uh, It's kind of nice, actually. I guess I do."

I devoted myself to the task, rewarded by some humming noises from Ian. Then I inserted a finger.

"Oh! I don't know about that."

"Hey, it's fun." I encouraged him and continued.

"I don't think I want to do that," he cautioned me. "Have you done that before?"

"I have, and I liked it," I recklessly admitted.

"It would hurt."

"Not after you get used to it. You could do it to me."

"Really? I don't know."

"You never know until you try." I turned on my side and backed into him. "Go ahead, try it."

Ian wasn't sure about this but he made an unsuccessful attempt to comply.

"It won't go in."

"Just a minute," I said and stumbled to the bathroom, returning with a small jar of Vaseline. "Here we go." I liberally applied it to us both.

By this time, the beer and Ian's curiosity had overcome his reluctance and he tried again, this time successfully.

"Oh!" he said again. "That's amazing!"

I moved, he moved, and it was good for us both. The new sensation was too much for him and it was all over rather quickly. He turned and lay back, breathless.

"How was that?" I asked.

Ian was a bit winded. "Didn't that hurt?"

"No. I like it. We just haven't tried that before. Did you like it?"

Ian's reply was to turn and hug me. He kissed my neck. "I love you," he whispered.

"I love you too. You want to try it now?"

Ian hesitated, kissed my neck, then proceeded to kiss southward to satisfy me in another way. It was fine. It was good. I was happy with whatever Ian was comfortable with. Now that the ice had been broken there would be other times to discuss other possibilities. We woke up sometime later and retired to our separate beds to sleep late on Sunday morning.

Summer school was over the first of August. I was working at the lab and Ian put in more hours at the Safeway. We were able to save up a little money. Despite the distraction of working, running and playing with me, Ian had made good grades and we decided to celebrate.

"How about a nice dinner," I suggested, "I know you must be getting tired of my cooking."

"You cook alright," Ian assured me, "but it would be nice for a change."

We decided to go to the Student Union and eat at the restaurant run by the School of Hotel Management. It tried to be a swanky place and the food was supposed to be pretty good. It was almost completely operated by the students with supervision by the faculty. The students purchased the food, prepared and served it to get an idea of all aspect of the business. I made reservations and we dressed up for the occasion. Ian left his cane in the car to walk in on my arm.

It was a nice place. The tables were covered in white linen and each place was set with several glasses upside down and an array of cutlery, a knife, two forks, a spoon and another spoon above around an over-sized plate to be used as a charger for what was served. Soft music was playing in the background and the atmosphere was quite elegant. We were greeted at the door by a young man wearing a tux who looked up our names and showed us to a table.

I went first to run interference through the tables and chairs and Ian walked closely behind me, lightly touching the back of my jacket. After we were seated, another young man came to ask us what we wanted to drink, left a basket of dinner rolls and left a pair of menus. I leaned over to quietly read the selections to Ian while he pretended to be reading his menu.

"This all looks pretty good," I said. "What sounds good to you?"

"Anything besides mashed potatoes," Ian chuckled. "But I have to order something I can eat without making a mess."

"Order what you want. I can talk you through it."

"I haven't had a decent steak in ages. I can cut it if I use my hands to position things."

"Then order a steak. They may not have horse meat though."

"I'll make a sacrifice," Ian laughed. "Do they have a rib-eye?"

"Yes. 8 or 12 ounce?"

"Umm, a 12 ounce. I'd love that. What comes with it?"

"Loaded baked potato, house or Cesar salad, choice of steamed broccoli or asparagus."

"Oh, that sounds wonderful." Then he gently touched the table service. "What do I have here?"

I lowered my voice to explain the layout. "The small fork on the left is for the salad, the larger is for the entree. On the right is a table knife and a spoon. If we order steak they will probably bring a steak knife when they serve it. There is a smaller spoon at the top of the plate for dessert. The rolls are in a basket between us.

After a few minutes, the waiter brought our drinks and asked to take our order. I nudged Ian under the table. He sat up straight, laid his hands on the menu and said firmly. "I'd like the 12 ounce rib-eye medium rare, a baked potato, steamed asparagus, and the Cesar salad."

"Yes, sir," the waiter said and turned to me. "And for you?"

"I'll have the same, thank you."

"Very good. I'll have the salads out quickly." He gathered up the menus and hustled off to the kitchen.

"That went well," Ian laughed.

"We make a good team, don't you think?"

Ian smiled. "We make a very good team. This was a great idea. Thanks."

"Don't thank me. We're splitting the tab."

The salad came first. He did OK with that, except that when he stuck a fork in the salad, sometimes he got a small piece of Romaine, sometimes he got a bundle of larger pieces. After wiping his face, he took his knife and attempted to slice it into smaller more manageable pieces then used part of a dinner roll to move it onto his fork.

"Could I help you with that?" I offered quietly.

"I can do it if you don't mind being seen with me."

"Hey, no problem. Let me know if I can do anything for you."

He managed. The server took our salad plates and before long our steaks arrived. Ian leaned forward and inhaled. "That smells wonderful." He hesitated then used his fingers to locate everything on his plate. "Oh, what the heck. I'm going to enjoy this."

"Go for it. Just keep one foot on the floor at all times."

He did fine, once he figured out where everything was. He speared his steak with the fork and carefully sliced it into smaller pieces. He cut across the asparagus to render it into bite-sized pieces and fingered the potato. It was wrapped in foil and pushed in at the sides to loosen it. Piled on top was butter, sour cream and crumbled pieces of bacon. "I'm not sure how to do this," he admitted.

"What I do is to use my fork to mash it all together and scoop it out a bite at a time."

He touched the pile of ingredients and looked frustrated, "I can do this, but I'll make a mess of it. "You could help, I think."

Without a word, I reached over and rendered it into something he could manage with a fork. "You're good," I said softly.

I enjoyed my steak and so did Ian. The cut was tender and the inside was nice and pink. I imitated Ian and cut my food into bite-sized pieces. It was a nice meal. Ian did his trick with a piece of dinner roll and got through the meal with no problem.

"How was your steak," I asked.

"Heavenly. I never had better. Even better than your horse meat."

"Well, I hope so."

The waiter removed our empty plates and asked, "Would you care for dessert? We have a chocolate fudge brownie with ice cream and an excellent Crème Brulee."

"Why don't you order for us," Ian suggested.

"We'll each have the Crème Brulee," said.

After the waiter left, Ian asked. "What am I getting?"

"It's like a little cup of egg custard that has had sugar sprinkled on top and caramelized with a blow torch," I explained.

"That sounds exciting."

"It's nice and you can easily eat it with the spoon at the top of your plate."

Ian smiled and settled back to wait for dessert.

"Are you having fun?" I asked.

"Yes. I'm glad we came. It's a lovely dinner."

After dessert, we had coffee in little demitasse cups with cream and brown sugar. It was all very elegant. We were brought the check and I did some quick arithmetic to split it up, left a nice tip and we were ready to go.

As we stood up to leave, Ian stepped back from the table just as a busboy in a white jacket rushed behind him carrying a large tray of dishes. They collided with a terrible crash throwing soiled dishes over the heads of the table behind us.

Ian said, "I'm sorry," and the busboy shouted, "oh shit!" at the same time. Our waiter appeared out of nowhere to pick up the crockery and attempt to wipe the remains of a salad from the dress of a rather large lady while apologizing to us and everyone in the area. If it weren't for Ian's embarrassment it would have been funny. The illusion of elegance was somewhat damaged as I hustled Ian away, leaving our cash on the table.

"Oh my God. What happened?" Ian gasped as we walked to the car.

"You got run over by a busboy."

"I'm so sorry. I hope I didn't embarrass you."

"No, it wasn't your fault. It could have happened to anybody." I assured him.

When we got home, we got comfortable on the sofa. "Did you have a good time?" I asked.

"It was really nice until I collided with that poor busboy."

"More so for the busboy. It was like a scene out of a Three Stooges movie. It was funny, really."

"That's easy for you to say. You weren't one of the stooges."

"Not you, the busboy. He was in a big hurry and wasn't looking where he was going. Don't worry about it."

"It was kind of funny now that you mention it," Ian smiled. "Other than the busboy thing, I had a great time."

"We both did, and the food was super."

"I did do pretty well with the steak," Ian admitted.

"You were smooth. I don't think anybody watching would know you couldn't see."

"Yeah, we did OK."

"We did great. There's no way I could eat a steak dinner blindfolded."

"It's one of the things we learned in school. They taught us to locate everything, cut larger things into smaller pieces, then use a piece of bread to maneuver food to the fork."

"You didn't spill anything."

"I was careful and if something does slide off the plate, I'll just leave it there. I don't want to be eating off the table with my fingers. That looks worse than making a mess. We learned a lot of things like that."

I put my hand on Ian's shoulder and gave it a squeeze. "You can do anything."

Ian grew serious. "I wish that were true, but I have to admit, sometimes it's hard, Andrew. I'm lucky to be in college at all. Most blind people never make it to college and most who do, never finish. It's just too overwhelming."

"You'll make it, though."

Ian sighed. "I hope so, but it's going to get harder not easier. I made it though my freshman year with decent enough grades to keep my scholarship, but I have a long way to go."

"What's the matter? You sound kind of discouraged."

"I'm just being realistic. I'm on my own now. I have to figure out what I'll do if I can't make it through college. For that matter, I have to figure out what I'll do if I finish. Having a degree doesn't magically insure success. I'll have to find a job, make a living."

"Neither of us is guaranteed anything. I can't predict what will happen to me. All I can do is to try and got a decent education and hope for the best. That's all either of us can do."

"But you're already working in a lab. I'm sacking groceries."

I sat back and waved my hands. "So what are you going to do, give up?"

"No, I won't give up. But I'm not sure I'm on the right track. I decided to major in English because it was something I thought I could do. Now I wonder if I'll be able to make a living."

"If you feel that way, you can always change your major. Everything you've done your freshman year will still count if you switch."

"I've thought about it. I was talking to Stuart. He's a business major and plans to go into marketing."

"Stuart's a smart guy. Does that sound like it might be a good plan for you?"

"I don't know. I have to do something. I'm not going to go home and live off my family, for sure. The other alternative is to become a ward of the state. I won't do that. I have to be able to make it on my own. I just have to."

I sat and thought for a minute. "One time I was struggling with something and my mother told me that when we have to make a tough decision, all we can do is to look at what options we have and try to pick the right one. We have to do the next right thing. What's the right thing for you, Ian?"

Ian leaned his head back. "What are my options and what should I do? That's a good question."

I pulled Ian into a hug. "Maybe we should sleep on it."

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