Wine was spilt and tofu was dropped, all in an effort to raise money for the Center for the Visually Impaired.
Lined up one-by-one, we stood ready to walk into the increasingly dark hallway, and — thanks to the hundreds of scary movies I've watched alone — everything inside me said, "turn around." Unsurprisingly, I was not the only one who felt that way.
"I don't like this," the woman in front of me loudly whispered to her friend.
"My chest is tightening," Lauren said. "This is weird."
Following the official rules of how to walk in the dark, Jaclyn squeezed the back of my elbow and determined that I would be the one to lead the group. The four of us, (Jaclyn, Lauren, Josh and I) entered what felt a lot like a haunted house, but was a catered dinner in total darkness.
Held at The Shores Resort and Spa to raise money for the Center for the Visually Impaired, Dining in the Dark is exactly as intense as it sounds. After being led into the ballroom by a police officer, we were seated at what felt to me like a long, rectangular table (it turned out to be a small, round one). Already in front of us was what I quickly learned to be a salad — after feeling around for my water and sticking my hands in ranch dressing.
"Who's going to pour the wine," Jaclyn shouted into the darkness. She had been confident enough to carry the bottle into the room, but not disperse it.
"I got it," said Josh, our resident troublemaker here at the Observer. He did it without completely missing, and took advantage of the lack of lighting to pour himself and Lauren a much fuller glass.
I went to take another bite of salad when I hit something with my fork that was definitely not lettuce.
"Pat," I said to the woman seated to my right, "Your hand is in my salad." She apologized, but for some reason let her hand linger there for a few more moments. She must have also had a pretty full glass of wine.
A few rule breakers attempted to take photos with their phones but were quickly shut down when the room — a.k.a Josh — yelled "CHEATERS," and shamed them into stopping.
Though I dropped most of my main course of rice and tofu somewhere on the table, the bites I did have were delish. There was also a chocolate mousse that was probably meant to be enjoyed with a spoon, but I lost mine so I just enjoyed it with my hands. Which was fine because no one could really see what I was doing.
After an hour and 15 minutes of food, confused conversation and an insanely motivating speech from a former CVI student, the lights slowly rose and the reality hit: we were incredibly messy people.
Food covered the formerly white table cloth, utensils were spread everywhere and I couldn't hide the fact that I ate my desert by the fistfulls because the whipped cream had distinctive markings of human fingers. Also, Pat was nowhere to be found.
All jokes aside, the dinner made me realize just how much I take my sight for granted and how some of my visually impaired peers live. Dining in the dark isn't just something they do for an hour and fifteen minutes, it's their everyday. The least we can do is show support to places like the Center for the Visually Impaired who are helping them learn how to live independently.
Visit cvicentralflorida.org for more information.