July 4th weekend always brings back my childhood fear of going blind.
Before I started worrying about nuclear war and cancer (which I thought I’d get because I ate Reddi Whip right from the spray can), I freaked out about losing my eyesight.
There were 3 influences:
1) Little House on the Prairie. Nothing scared me like the “Mary Goes Blind” story arc. It ended up happy for her because she met a hot guy in Blind School, an instructor named Adam, but I never thought finding a husband was worth having those blank, Little Orphan Annie eyes. The cause was scarlet fever, however I thought it was from eye strain. I got confused by a scene where Mary knocked over her reading lantern and started a fire, yelling, “Pa, Pa, I can’t see!” She did that because she was blind, but in my mind I switched around the cause and effect. I thought she went blind because of reading from a poor light source.
2) An old, blind guy named Leo who sold us all our magazine subscriptions. A neighbor in our building would throw an annual party for him, where everyone could come, eat Zabars cold cuts, and buy a year’s worth of The New Yorker or Reader’s Digest from the blind guy near the front door. He did business at a little card table. I remember his very dry fingers and his dark, dark glasses. He was nice, but he scared me. The way he didn’t look right at you when he talked to you. And, though I thought any exchange of goods for cash was super cool, something depressed me about his selling magazine subscriptions. Maybe I had a sense that publishing would one day be dead.
2) A book called “Follow My Leader” that I found for 10 cents at a yard sale in Connecticut when I was around nine. And this is why I link blindness with Independence Day: It was about a kid who goes blind from a firecracker. He has to go to blind school and get a guide dog and learn Braille. I can’t believe people buy and use their own fireworks. Clearly, they need a copy of this book. Since I read it, I run backwards whenever fireworks go off, even if they’re miles away on a Macy’s barge in the river. I’m not going blind because of someone’s 4th of July carelessness, thank you.
Do you know any blind people?
Do you let your kids use firecrackers?
What did you used to worry about when you were a kid?
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.