I do not believe I would ever have done anything that I thought might possibly hurt her feelings but I wonder what I would have done had I scrolled to her fourth Tinder picture to see her prosthetic. Would I have considered it disqualifying?, unattractive?, attractive?, too much potential hassle?
The closest I have ever come to disability is a woman I hooked up with a few times in college who had a foot maimed by a lawnmower as a child. Except for a small limp, you'd never notice anything if her shoes were on. I've never known anyone (let alone had a relationship) with a larger disability.
This article makes me wonder what I would have thought if I had. It makes me wonder what I should have thought. Certainly a missing leg is a defining aspect of her life. I can't imagine that it is unreasonable for it to matter to me if I was considering a relationship. But I'm not sure what response it should inspire.
It's easy for me (in my imagination) to think that, if I found her attractive in other ways, I would not care about a missing leg. But that begs the question of how I would respond to other things. Would a missing arm be diffierent? How about a wheelchair? How about the problem Elephant Man had? Mental affliction? How serious could I tolerate if the person otherwise appealed?
I know I can be generous about disability to some extent. Debbie has physical issues that require noticeable extra effort on my part, even an adjustment in the expectations I have for my life that might be similar to those required by this author's missing leg. But what would I think if I were young and had my whole life ahead of me?
And it makes me wonder what I think about the life of a disabled person. I know that when I think about the life of Joseph Merrick (the Elephant Man had a name, an identity, a life, ambitions, desires, quirks and foibles), I feel a terrible sympathy over the loneliness he must have suffered and think about what obligation decent people owe.
As I write this, I feel a little bit sad that I have missed out on knowing the experience and perspective of a friend whose life is different in this way. I don't know whether I would reach out for a date with this woman but hope I would.