All those little clumps of people standing around the room, everyone with a drink in their hand. Women in high heels shifting from one foot to another. Men trying to impress women with their wit. Women trying to impress men with their low cut dresses. Single people scanning the room; checking the latest arrivals as they enter the door. Married people furtively glancing around trying to catch sight of their spouse. The serious group over in the corner; intensely shaking their heads.
I didn’t accept party invitations very often. People standing in groups with drinks in their hands always filled me with images of impending catastrophe.
My funny little limp came with a sway. It was a small sway, but it was enough to make men whistle as I walked away and a long necklace to get caught on my right breast if I was foolish enough to wear one. My sway scared the hell out of me when I walked through a door and found a room filled with small groups of people. I envisioned taking a step, swaying just enough to hit the shoulder of one of those people holding a drink, the drink being knocked out of the hand and liquid spilling and splashing all over men’s shoes and women’s dresses.
But this particular party was being given by a friend whose feelings mattered. I accepted the invitation. I asked permission to arrive a bit early. Not uncommonly early, just early enough to find a place where I could put myself in a sitting position.
I had found a very comfortable sofa and that is where I intended to stay. My friend had given me a drink. I meant to nurse it until the standing groups had dispersed enough to make a clear walking spaces. I was out of the way, and I had a great perch to ‘people-watch‘.
Then he sat down beside me. He smiled and said that he had been watching me watching people. We had fun chatting. I was impressed with his ability to make light conversation interesting and humorous. We talked for a very long time, but he said that he had a prior commitment so he had to leave. He asked if I would like to have dinner the following weekend. I decided that I would enjoy getting better acquainted with him so I accepted the invitation. We exchanged phone numbers, shook hands and he left. There had been no reason for me to stand. He had not had a chance to see my walk, but it never crossed my mind that I should have given him a demonstration.
The next weekend when he knocked at my door I was pleased that we were going to spend some time together. I answered his knock and let him stand in the living room as I went to retrieve my purse. When I came back, ready to leave, he had a stricken look on his face.
?Can we talk a minute, before we leave?? he asked.
Then he stated that he hadn?t known that I had a limp. He apologized profusely between his stammers and stutters. He wanted me to know that he was willing to stand behind his invitation, but he was uncomfortable with the fact that I was ?different?. He was ashamed of himself. His discomfort and embarrassment were obvious. But, and it is a big BUT, he was honest.
I smiled and thanked him for being honest with me. I was so grateful that he had told me before we had left the house. He could have kept his feelings to himself and we would have had a dreadful evening. I had so much respect for his honesty. His ego was limited by what others would say about him if he was seen with a woman that was a bit different, but his honesty was like a whiff of fresh air.
I think of him often and wonder if life has left him untouched; unmarred by disability of any kind. But I also think of him with gratitude and a smile. He proved to me that there are men that have the strength to be honest about their feelings.
This has not been unhappy story.
The unhappy story is the story about the man that I dated for a more then a year. It was Christmas time and his mother asked to meet me. The day before we were to go to her house he asked me to wear a long skirt because he didn?t want his mother to know that he dated a handicapped woman. He had a brother that had been born with only one arm. His family knew about disability, for Pete?s sake.
I was so irate and hurt that I did something totally out of character ... I tried to punch him in the nose. I missed, tripped, and as I was falling to the floor got my earring caught on his shirt button. I ended up with a bloody ear instead of giving him a bloody nose. Now that is a SAD story!