Have you ever had one of those situations you might not do again, but happy you did it in the first place? I wrote about stepping out of your comfort zone a while ago, and was put in one of those situations this past weekend.
Preface: When my boyfriend and I started “officially” dating, he learned that one of my passions (and guilty pleasures) is musical theater. It’s true. On my iPhone music selection you might some Taylor Swift, Eminem, Dido, Kenye West, Katy Perry, Colbie Caillat, Brittney (just being honest, you know you love her too, secretly)- and selections from Cats, Les Miserables and Wicked (to which you might find me on any given day belting out the lyrics). After learning this he suggested that we might go see Wicked, as it was one I had not seen, but always wanted to. After doing some research, he learned that the cast would be in Montreal in August of this year. So we planned it!
Present day: So, I wanted to book a reservation at a nice restaurant. I had never been to Canada, so I didn’t know the surrounding area at all. I went to my trusty friend, Yelp. Yelp suggested a restaurant, Onior. I saw it had a lot of stars and tons of positive comments, so I booked the reservation without actually reading any of the comments. Dinner for 2 for at 6pm, with an 8pm show time- done and done.
I then went back and actually read the comments. This is what I saw:
”The concept is simple. You’re trying to experience life as a visually impaired person, albeit only for a short few hours and in a controlled environment. The main dining room is completely dark – not dark as in “your bedroom when you turn off the lights to sleep” dark, but dark as in “your eyes never adjust, you can’t even see your fingers when you hold them up right in front of your eyes!” dark.”
I called Brad to see if he was still interested in this restaurant, given my new-found information. He is a very open-minded person, so he thought “why not.” I was hesitant, but concurred. Why not? He also found out that 95% of the staff is legally blind. I kinda liked the concept: 70% of visually impaired are unemployed, so this gives those people training to enter the mainstream job market. Cool.
The experience: When you walk in it’s like any other front room of a restaurant, but with heavy curtains everywhere to block out any possible light from the main room. You order your food- 2 course or 3, and your beverage of choice, and wait for your waiter/waitress to come and get you to be seated. We had Tim. Tim was a very nice gentleman who seriously need to have a steak and a shower, but very sweet and gentle in demeanor. Brad was instructed to put his hand on Tim’s shoulder and be lead into the main dining room, and I was to do the same to Brad’s shoulder (in reality I curled up behind him with my face nuzzled into his back- and walked like I was going into a haunted house).
This was what I saw (the entire time I was in the restaurant):
We were seated at a table directly next to the wall. I started to freak out. The conversation went something like this:
Me: I want to leave. I don’t like it. (my heart started to race)
Brad: Baby, you’re fine. You already had your mind made up that you weren’t going to like it. Give it a chance. It’s just you and me, sitting in the dark. I’m right here (he grabbed my hand and put his leg next to mine under the table).
Me: I don’t like it I want to go. (heart racing faster)
Brad: Baby, what do you think is going to happen to you? I’m here. I’m not going anywhere and you are safe.
Me: Okay. (heart still racing, but at this point my breath had calmed down and I was starting to accept my surroundings)
So, just as I decided to calm the thoughts of just aiming right- and running until I hit one of those curtains, our drinks arrived. Nothing calms your nerves like a dirty martini. You can quote me on that one. Tim placed our drinks next to the wall and left to get our appetizers- that arrived about 2 minutes later. Still black. Still can’t see. Still mildly freaking out, but it was getting better. Funny how easily I found my drink, though. I attempted to reach for a fork and eat, but there wasn’t much food on my plate, and what was there wasn’t big enough to use a fork. I decided to just “go for it” and use my hands. Brad was sweet and wanted me to sample his dish, but reaching food/fork combo across the table proved not only to be really funny, but it was that exact moment I started to accept my situation. ”This isn’t so bad.” I thought to myself. And it wasn’t. Truth was, I was with my love, and he was putting me at ease with his natural confidence and calming nature.
Dinner arrived about 10 minutes later. I ordered the “chicken” selection on the menu. It came in a crepe, surrounded by cauliflower. How did I know? Oh, I’m totally a pro at this point. Brad was too- as he ate his filet with no trouble at all and we were done.
5 minutes later, still done. No Tim.
Then another 15…
Then another 10 minutes go by.
Brad: Tim? TIM!?
Me: TIM! TIM! TIM! (nothing, no Tim in sight- literally)
It went on for about 5 minutes, and just like the butler in Mr. Deeds, Tim’s voice appeared out of nowhere. He brought us a second martini and before we knew it, it was 7:35 and time to go. He had forgotten to bring us dessert, but we didn’t mind as martini #2 served that role just fine.
As Tim lead us out of the dark room, my mind cleared and a smile came over my face. I had done it. I will 100% admit that I would not have done it, nor could I have done it without the support of my amazing boyfriend, but I did it nonetheless. I overcame a fear of the unknown and sampled a little bit of an new open-minded perspective.
Conversation after dinner:
Brad: Are you happy you did it?
Brad: Would you do it again?
Me: Hell no.
I did as Edgar Allan Poe once said, “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before,” and I’m proud of myself for it, but I think I am gonna side with Julius Caesar on this one: ”I came, I saw, I conquered.” And that’s enough for me.