People see the blind and think “there’s a defective human.” Getting a guide dog doesn’t change this. One night in a Seven-Eleven in Westchester County I met a cashier who was terrified by my presence—I was “othered”—given the silent treatment the second I walked in. My black friends know the scene, it’s the Old West saloon, swinging doors clattering, all eyes on the suspect newcomer, interloper, desperado, cheat…and you’re “it”; you’re the ruinous banished sonofabitch, back from his Roman ostracism, home from the marshes, returned from the dead, stinking of grave clothes, flashing a fishy slick evil eye right beside the chewing gum God Almighty, even smiling, therefore super dangerous and how jokey it is since you were feeling so good, the evening was going nicely, you were out to buy some condoms, you were getting lucky and now you’re a shrunk nefarious freak under fluorescents, a horny homunculus, a walking voodoo doll. I waved at him, the counter man, for he was there alright, that colossus of late night six packs and last minute milk and since he wasn’t going to acknowledge me I said: “Hey, where are the rubbers?” (You can feel the horror of silent men…I think he backed up a foot or so, his ass contacted the cigarette rack, I heard the clatter.) He said nothing. I said, “you know…condoms…no glove no love…don’t be silly wrap you willy…don’t be a fool wrap your tool… don’t be a ding-dong cover you shling- shlong…” He raised his arms as if it was a stick up. “They are here, behind me,” he said. “Here.” “Aha,” I said. “Can you describe them?” “Oh no,” he said. “Oh no! Can’t describe!” “Yes you can,” I said. “Read the labels.” And he read them then, “lubricant, ribbed, latex, flavored…” His shame was almost heartbreaking—almost, but never quite.