In Praise of 20/200 Vision

What kind of friends do friends become
When a blind eye turns on the damage done?
What kind of friend could I become?
What kind of friend am I?

Mark Heard, “What Kind of Friend,” from Second Hand (1992)

Dearest Rachel –

There’s a story about the great Admiral Nelson, who, during the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801, was ordered to fall back, along with his command. The order being conveyed by flag codes on a signal ship, the Admiral was handed his telescope to read his instructions. However, believing he could press his advantage, he brought the glass up to the eye he had lost early in his naval career, and said. “I have a right to be blind sometimes; I really do not see the signal,” and carried on, winning the day. While the phrase existed before, this truly codified the concept of “turning a blind eye” to something.

There is something to be said for the concept, and we had that going for us.

I wish that I was beautiful, or that you were halfway blind.
I wish I weren’t so gol-durned fat, I wish that you were mine.

Harry Chapin, “A Better Place To Be”

Sometimes, quite literally. Particularly in the bath or the bedroom, where glasses got in the way, we simply could not see each other clearly, as painfully nearsighted as both of us were. And while that might be a hindrance in any other situation or location, in those places, it was a positive boon, as our physical shortcomings were set aside, because we simply could not see them clearly.

I mean, let’s face it, you were no Barbie, and I was no Ken.

And you knew that from the start, when we were exchanging letters and mix tapes.

Although he may not be the man
Some girls think of as handsome
To my heart he carries the key

George & Ira Gershwin, “Someone To Watch Over Me”

Granted, in your letter at the time, I think you focused on the description of yourself as the “little lost lamb,” as you informed me that was what your name translated to. To which I responded by warning you of certain… wolfish… tendencies within me. Look, sweetheart, it’s all in my name, as any British lout would be more than happy to explain.

And for whatever reason, you chose to turn a blind eye to that, as well. Indeed, you actually embraced it, quite literally. And while you might well have been happier more often than not with a good backrub – which I was more than happy to provide as needed (and I do worry that I’m falling out of practice these days) – it was rarely something you outright refused. In fact, you would occasionally walk in on me, asking if I might want… anything.

Have I mentioned lately how much I miss you?

Of course, I turned a blind eye to plenty as well. To be painfully honest, these past few months of cleaning out the house have shown me just how much I had ignored for the sake of harmony in the home.

But there’s no two ways about it, honey. It was all worth it. I’ve said before I’d spent a hundred more years amongst that series of piles, were I able to have you by my side throughout it all. See, we mutually agreed to set aside any issues we had with each other. Maybe we didn’t spell it all out in writing at any point in time, but the tacit agreement was still there. You saw me at my worst – and I at yours – and were content with your lot, as was I. What more could either of us ask for?

And so we indulged ourselves, and allowed each other indulgences in turn, because after all, what did we have to prove to each other? And for that matter, what right had we to prevent the other from enjoying something when we would not refuse ourselves of something similar? And to add to that, we discovered numerous times the special joy in actually sharing each other’s guilty pleasures, be it anime, sci-fi, travel, food, or… other appetites. Each of us adding to our own list of delights even as we sampled those the other favored.

That was the beauty and the joy of our marriage – and if you ask me, it should likely apply fairly well to any marriage. Enjoy everything, and turn a blind eye to each other’s shortcomings. After all, neither of us was perfect, and so we have no right to demand – or even expect – perfection in a partner in turn. Sure, we’re supposed to be striving for constant improvement – and our partner is supposed to encourage, if not travel along with, us on that path – but there are things that can’t necessarily be improved, and others that do no harm by their existence. Ignore those you can, indulge those you must… and commit it all to God for the strength to do so, when necessary.

Right, honey?

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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