Not If I See You First
“Oh, really? You know what that word means?”
“School’s only two miles away,” she says. “You really can just walk if you don’t want anyone helping you.”
“What I want is to be treated like everyone else. Until you start walking home from school every day, I’m perfectly happy getting picked up, too.”
“Thanks for the ride.”
Our moms and dads would be so proud.
The radio turns on. News radio. Commercials. Sheila changes the station till she finds music. It’s nothing I recognize but that’s no surprise; I don’t listen to music much.
“Who’s this?” I ask.
“The singer, who is it?”
“Ha, ha. We don’t have to talk, you know. That’s why the radio’s on.”
“Okay, you don’t know either. You could have just said so.”
“What are you talking about? It’s Kesha. ‘We R Who We R.’ Everyone knows that.”
I flop my hands a little—my equivalent of rolling my eyes—but I doubt Sheila understands. “She’s the one who used to have the typo in her name, right? A dollar sign instead of an s?”
“God, Parker, you’re just … so …”
My stomach tightens and I know why. It’s this place I go that’s somewhere between wanting to wind someone up because of their stupid assumptions and actually feeling bad about missing out on something. There’s plenty I miss because I’m blind but a lot of things I don’t. I saw rainbows when I was little—I know what they look like—I don’t need to see them over and over. But there’s plenty of new stuff I just can’t keep up with.
“I’m just saying not everyone knows this song.”
“You’ve never heard of Kesha.” She says it flatly, like it’s so inconceivable she has no idea which emotion to apply.
“You mean Keh Dollar Sign Ha … Yes, I’ve heard of her.”
I don’t have anything else to do—and it’s playing loud now—so I listen. We pull into the driveway and stop but Sheila leaves the engine running till the song ends.
“Recognize it now?”
“Nope. Never heard it before.”
“Wow, you’re serious. How is that even possible?”
“What, you think everyone on the planet’s heard that song?”
“No, but in every high school in America, yeah. I just figured … Never mind.”
“What?” I hear in her voice that it’s one of those feeling-awkward-around-the-blind-girl moments. “It’s fine, just tell me.”
“It’s just … if I was … you know … I just figured you’d know more about music than anyone.”
I shake my head. Where do I even start?
“How often do you just listen to music and nothing else?”
“I don’t know. A lot.”
“I mean no leafing through a magazine, no surfing the Interwebz, doing nothing but listening.”
“I don’t know—does it matter?”
“Not to you, but when you say all the time you really mean you read magazines, Web surf, do homework, with music on in the background.”
“Of course. That’s what everyone does—”
“Not everyone. To me, reading is listening. I can’t listen to an audio textbook and music at the same time. And it takes me twice as long to listen to anything as it takes you to read it. Hell, you can tell right away if you’re on the webpage you want while it takes me five minutes just to figure out that I’m not and hit the links to the right page. So I can either spend most of my time reading and working to keep up with school, or I can listen to music a lot and do nothing else and guarantee that when I graduate—if I graduate—I’ll be fucked with zero education and then what will I do to take care of myself?”
After a moment, keys jangle. “Okaaay.”
“It’s fine—you didn’t know. I don’t get mad at people for not knowing. I get mad at people for thinking they do know.”
“Well … what’d you think of the song?”
“I don’t know. It’s all about cutting loose and having fun, and the tune’s catchy, but it also sounds like what’s probably going through a stripper’s head when she sees all these guys turned on by her but knows deep down all they care about is her tits and ass and nobody will ever really love her. So I guess I like how it sounds but not what it says. Do you like it?”
“I used to. I think you just ruined it.” She leaves and slams the door.
“Don’t shoot the messenger.”
“Faith and I are going to Ridgeway on Saturday to do some shopping,” I tell Sarah. “Want to come?”
“Hang on, Parker, the phone garbled you there. Either that or you just said something totally random. If I ask you to say it again, I’ll bet you say something completely different this time.”
“Faith and I are going to Ridgeway on Saturday to do some shopping. Want to come?”
“Ha. You want me to go shopping. With you and Faith.”
“And Molly, but I haven’t asked her yet.”