He much prefers Hal.
"I hate Harold," he says. "You see those henpecked husband situations on television and, I swear, eight out of 10 are named Harold. "I don't think of myself as a Harold."
So it's Hal Krents' story on the tube tonight (Channel 9 at 9), a made-for TV movie based on his autobiography, "To Race the Wind," the mostly comic inner vision of what it's like to be a blind student, at Harvard no less. Talk about your classic overachievers. Krent, who was the inspiration for the play "Butterflies Are Free," later attended Harvard Law School, became an attorney, married, fathered two sons, Jamie and Willie, suffered a paralyzing stroke ("At first I thought to myself, 'God, isn't blindness sufficient? But then I realized we aren't thrown more than we can handle") and successfully rehabilitated himself. aThose things will be part of the sequel, which he is writing now. "To Race the Wind" is closer to a blind man's "Paper Chase."
Krents is 35 now, living in Washington, near Georgetown University Hospital. "It's so easy to just roll me over the hill to the emergency room," he says. "Saves a lot of time waiting for the ambulance." In the movie he is played by Steve Guttenberg. Guttenberg's version is taller. Krents is a punch line waiting for an opening. This is Krents.
On clothes: "I have no concept of color coordination. My wife, Kit, buys all my clothes and puts together my outfits. She says it's like being married to a Barbie Doll."
On movies: "I love them, go to them all the time. One time I was on a flight and the movie was "Silent Movie.' I had a great time. It was just like when I'm at home, watching slides."
On singing: "I love it. I write songs. Three of my songs are being used in the movie. I have this big bass voice. They always had me play God in the Christmas pageants. I was the one who told Mary, 'Fear not.'"
On dreaming: "Mine are all audio. The good ones are just as good, the awful ones just as awful. Like, I'll be running through a mist, but I can't see the mist; I just hear footsteps behind me. "It's all dialogue, all sensations."
On sports fantasy: "If I could play any sport it would be football. Actually, I do play football. I'm a deceptive runner. No one knows where I'm going -- not even me. I'm like a drunken truck driver. I smack into trees. You know, when I go deep on a pass pattern no one bothers to guard me. Thing is, I can catch the ball if it hits me in the hands. I even catch it if it hits me in the face -- depending on the carom. I'd have loved to have been a wide receiver, like Lynn Swann. To get loose and jump in the air like that. I used to dream of it, being an athlete. I love to go to games. I love the sounds of them."
On blindness: "People think when you're totally blind that everything is pitch black, like the Milton vision. Not so. Until I was 9 I had some sight in one eye. I could make out the moon. I could make out the shadows of buildings.I know what pitch-black night is like. I can make the comparison. Blindness is like the void they talk about in Genesis, before the world was created. It's blank. No color. No texture. I don't find it so much scary as boring."
On color: "Red is the best. The most vivid. I remember red. It was the last color I saw. It was on the last day of fifth grade, just before I lost my sight completely. I was in the backyard and I saw something red fly by, something so red it was fantastic. My sister told me it was a cardinal. I'll never forget it. When I could see I never squandered it.I saw every color I could."
On crying: "I find it hard to cry about myself. I cried so hard when they told me I'd never see again that maybe I think if I do it again, I'll never stop."
On funny people: Bob Newhart.
On great singers: Jack Jones, ella Fitzgerald.
On fabulous smells: Lilacs.
On wonderful touch: The feel of the bat hitting the baseball. "Before I lost my sight I hit balloons with stickball bats and I hit those huge playground balls. I used to pretend I was Willie Mays."
On sensational sounds: Thunderstorms. "Crickets are the key. When they're really going crazy. So I guess it would have to be August, when they're full grown. They wake you up in the middle of the night with their chirping, and then you hear the storm in the distance and you listen, maybe for 15 or 20 minutes, until it hits. It's thrilling. Do you think that's crazy?"
On looks: "I know I'm no sex symbol, but I can't picture myself at all. I know that I'm short, that I have dark hair, that I have a swarthy look. But I can't put it together. If I had 10 seconds of sight, that's what I'd do -- I'd look at myself. Give me 30 seconds and I'd stare at my wife and my sons. I'd memorize them. But if I just had 10 seconds, I'd want to see me. Just give me a glimpse. I'd just want to know."