Friday 5 September 2014

Wooden Eye

This Friday’s saga is brought to you by way of a belated tribute to the dear, now deceased, friend who told it to me many years ago. (Please watch, this is true.) John was a fine artist and bon-vivant and many a hoary old tale was told, late at night following an exhibition opening or at the end of a frantic weekend at a gallery far, far away. In the pursuit of perfecting his art and particularly his life drawing skills, he had spent a great deal of time at the local hospital, engaged in producing detailed anatomical drawings in the mode of daVinci and it was here that he had heard of the strange case of the young man with the wooden eye.

The poor lad had lost the ocular apparatus in a strange coincidence involving a third party, a pointed stick, some larking about and the ignoring of the sage advice from many an elder that he would have somebody’s eye out one day. Well that was the day and the optical orb was deftly and permanently displaced from its orbit.

Back then, surgery wasn’t an option and so it was an eye patch or a glass’un. But fine glass was expensive and our hero was not only blind, but broke. Were there, he asked the eye technician any cheaper alternatives? The proffered solution of a hand-crafted ceramic replacement was also beyond the humble budget of our one-eyed protagonist who put on his best monocular, ‘pity me’ expression and indicated that he needed a bargain basement option.

The eye artist plucked an old wooden billiard ball from a bowl, sighed and began to paint a crude iris on its surface. It would have to suffice and for the cheapest possible fee our young man walked out of the eye unit a man intact… until he noticed small children staring and pointing and whispering to their mothers, gaggles of giggling girls and the muted guffaws from the binocularly gifted everywhere. He was so shocked at how his affliction marked him out that he retired from society and rarely ventured forth thereafter.

But times change and after a few years he heard talk of openness and acceptance and diversity and individualism and one day he decided to re-enter the world of the living. In the dim lights of a night club he figured his deformity would attract less attention and after a few drinks he was emboldened enough to consider the possibility of asking a girl for a dance. He scanned the room and discovered a pretty, shrinking violet, her hand held to her mouth, hiding away in a dark corner. He moved a little closer so that he could watch to see if she was accompanied.

She was. She had a group of close girl friends who regularly checked that she was okay. They came along and chatted and she seemed to reply, but she never moved the hand from in front of her mouth. Until, just once, he caught a fleeting glimpse. Her mouth sat vertically on her face, a ninety-degree rotated smile; this couldn’t be true. He focused his one good eye on the group and yes, sure enough, she once again revealed her anomalous, grim grin. This was his chance – how could she, with her own deformity, turn him away on account of his?

Nobody's perfect!

Soon she was alone again, her girlfriends back on the dance floor and he seized his opportunity. Walking over to her, his hand covering his wrong eye, her hand covering her perpendicular lips he raised the courage to speak. She shrank away from him at first, her hand clamped firmly over her mouth, but in a moment of raw daring he spread both his hands in a gesture of supplication and – revealing himself – asked, “Would you like to dance?”

She looked directly at him and her heart skipped a beat. She lowered her hand and said, excitedly, ”Oh, wouldn’ I?” Our man hardly paused before he responded; the instincts of years of isolation taking over, he replied, “Well, fuck off yourself… cunt face!” 

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