Travis offered some helpful tips, such as running my fingers along the table edge to find things. “You start reaching across the table, that’s when you start knocking drinks over,” he said. I bravely buttered a slice of bread, only to learn that I’d left two giant chunks on the edges. Travis said that if I paid attention to the friction and resistance of the knife, I could tell how much I was spreading. All good advice, but I was less concerned with physics than my now butter-covered fingers.
Courtney brought our starters — a baby green salad for me and ahi tuna for Travis. The first thing I stabbed was the chunky piece that would drive me mad with its mystery. I took one bite and held the rest of it in my left hand for about 10 minutes, hoping that intermittent bites between baby greens would trigger my memory.
“I’m telling you, all your senses are so handicapped by your sight,” Travis said. “Even your taste.”
At last, in a thrilling moment, it came to me: “It’s a mushroom! A portobello mushroom!”
The rest of the meal was less frustrating, and I found myself closing my eyes for long periods of time. There was a lot of touching of food that wasn’t finger food and plenty of laughing every time the fork arrived at my mouth. Either it was empty or the piece I’d cut was so big it hit my nose. I remember enjoying the food, but the flavors were somewhat lost to the celebration of each triumphant self-feeding.
After dessert (bittersweet chocolate cake with strawberries and vanilla bean ice cream), Courtney led us back to the light. It was dusk, but I squinted going up the stairs. After 21
2 hours without my sight, readjusting my eyes threw off my equilibrium, and I felt faintly dizzy and queasy.
We paid the hostess, and I picked up a brochure on our way out. “Not just a meal,” it read, “but a truly unique, sensual experience.” I didn’t know about sensual, but I was certain I still had some aioli on my cheek and chocolate on my fingers as I grabbed the steering wheel of my rental. Travis and Fess sat on the passenger side, eyes wide open.
Kaplan is a freelance writer in Washington. She can be found at www.melaniedgkaplan.com.