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It was a sunny and warm summer afternoon, as we drove up the parkway. Jane was driving, since I was pretty tired from a busy morning. We had planned to pick up a few things for the apartment - cleaning stuff, things like that. Definitely not "guy" stuff.

"How about some lunch?" she asked.

"Fine with me. I'm pretty hungry." I replied. "What did you have in mind?"

"Well, how about if I surprise you?" she asked, in her most mischievous voice.

She pulled over into a parking lot, and picked a place where we could sit for a few minutes. From the pocket in her door, she pulled a pair of what I first thought were Band-aids, but realized that they were oval-shaped.

"What are those?" I asked.

"Eye pads. They cover your eyes and keep you from seeing anything." She peeled the paper backing from one of them, exposing a black pad in the center, surrounded by an adhesive area much like on a small bandage.

"Like a blindfold?" I asked, wondering where this was going.

"Yes, but just a bit different. This black area will cover your eye, and keep it from opening. The outer area will hold it in place. As you can see, it's the same color as your skin, so it will blend in nicely."

"Well.." I hesitated, not sure I wanted to do this, "you're not planning anything 'funny', are you?"

"Not at all - just lunch and shopping, like we talked about. I just wanted your lunch to be a little bit of a surprise," she said, "now, bend over here a bit, and let me put these on you."

I didn't see any harm in it - eating drive-through food without looking at it can be a distinct advantage to people who don't allow enough time for lunch. I leaned over towards her. "Close your eyes," she said.

I closed my eyes. "Don't squint". I relaxed my eyes, and felt her pressing the cloth-like pad at the center of the eye pad over my left eye. She adjusted it slightly one way and another, then smoothed the adhesive in place around my eye.

"You can relax while I unwrap the other one," she told me. I opened my still-uncovered eye, surprised to find that my bandaged eye now would not open. I watched as she peeled the paper off the second eye pad. Looking in the mirror, the skin-colored eye patch was a fairly close match - and aside from the fact that I was now missing an eye, my face looked fairly normal.

"Okay - now close again - and say goodbye to seeing for a while!" she said, in a cheerful voice.

I closed my eye, and felt as the eye pad was pressed in place over it. Again the adhesive was smoothed in place. I felt her fingers brush over my bandaged eyes, making sure everything was on properly. "That's it, now let's find some food!"

I tried to open my eyes, and found that I could if I really worked at it. But all that came through the eye pads was a very muted bit of light - I could not even tell from which direction the sun was shining.

"Put these on," she said, pressing something against my hand. I reached, and felt her handing me my sunglasses. "Thanks," I said, a bit puzzled. I put them on, and enjoyed listening to the music, and trying to keep track of where we were going.

I found that having driven up and down a street for many years, you get a strong feel for where you are on it from non-visual cues. A particular patch of pavement near a certain shopping center makes a peculiar noise, a certain intersection has a lot of left-turning traffic that makes a certain noise. A couple of times I lost track of where we were, then figured it out again. It was a fun game.

Jane asked me if I knew where we were several times, and was surprised when I was able to tell her.

"I'll have to make this a little more interesting, then!" she said, laughing. She took several turns off the main road, and got onto a large highway - but I was unsure of which direction she was heading. Aha! It's early afternoon, and I feel the sun shining on my face, and the window frame is blocking it a bit on the right: We must be heading southwest. Didn't help any, though; I had no idea which highway she had gotten on.

"Okay, Columbus - any idea now?" She asked.

"You've got me. I give up!"

"I thought so! Well, what do you say to a hamburger or something like that for lunch? That should be easy enough to eat without making a mess."

"How considerate of you!" I said, as I laughed, picturing myself trying to eat pasta - or even worse: Chinese food with chopsticks!

The car pulled over, and I felt her put it in park. "Just a second" she said, getting out of the car. I smartly figured that she had pulled into a bank to use the ATM. I jumped when I felt my own door open unexpectedly! "C'mon, lazybones, hop out!" she said.

"Out? Where are we?"

"A restaurant, silly. Food, remember?"

"But I thought we were going to get some drive-through!"

"I never said any such thing. Now I'll hold your hand. C'mon, let's go!"

Reluctantly, I stepped out of the car, feeling like a very small person in a very big parking lot. I held my hand out, and she took it, and pulled me backwards while she closed the car door.

There was some confusion getting inside the restaurant's double doors, but we managed, and somehow stayed together.


(part II will be coming)