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A Dart Team

THE IRISH WELL WAS AN EARLY NINETIES ICON of bohemian extravagance and Irish culture situated in Saint Paul’s Midway area. It was a cultural center

indeed. Live music, storytelling, and poetry were wonderfully stirred,espoused, and served up by the faithful patrons. There were also games, a small pool table, and electronic dartboards.

Two dartboards had been placed in a half-circle room, attached to the

main dining room and entertainment area, under an amicable contract with a local vending company.

They were not used extensively, and the vending company removed

one of them, as two were not monetarily viable. A man with a large dolly

wheeled away one of the machines.

It was two weeks later when the man returned with his dolly and another machine. He smiled. “I will set this up for the Blind Dart League. They will be here on Tuesday evening.”

Blind people playing darts? It would be easy to conjure up major safety

concerns. The man was obviously joking. He had a spare machine and needed somewhere to keep it until it was needed elsewhere.

On the following Tuesday evening, a Metro Mobility bus showed up and

discharged ten guide dogs with blind human beings attached. I happened

to be in the entry passage and stared openmouthed at the canine-led invasion.

A man being pulled along by the leading dog sensed my presence and

asked in a loud voice, “Where’s the dartboard?”

This has to be a major practical joke, I thought, and it wasn’t the sort of

practical joke that would be beyond several of my current patrons.

I answered, “You, er, um, want to know where the dartboard is?”

“Yea, man, we are here to play darts.”

I led them through to the dartboards, visualizing a line of ambulances

outside ready to take a continual stream of customers to the hospital that

had been struck with wayward flying darts.

After indicating the location of the board, I watched as each of them

ran their hands over it, making approving noises, and then out of their

pockets they pulled boxes that contained darts. The dogs were obedient

when asked to settle on the long Naugahyde seat that ran under the

curved, mirrored wall. A guide dog was privileged, as being the only live

animal allowed entry to any pub and restaurant in the Twin Cities, if not in

the entire seven-state area.

The first dart was thrown. I had stood well back. I am a sighted person,

although I do have to wear spectacles, and I can throw a reasonably straight dart. However, my dart-playing skills were pretty miserable compared

to these players. That first dart went straight into double top, and I was shocked when the board itself announced the score, “Double Twenty.”

Was this a lucky throw? Certainly not. There were very few misses from

these players. It seemed that some bright individual had decided to invent

a talking dartboard just for blind people.

I had often heard good players over the years bragging, “Oh, I could play

that man blindfolded.”

Story: After years of adventures and collecting stories, JOHN DINGLEY has taken up writing between the many forays into executing his other trade, stonemasonry. He is well on his way into a series of at least five books for children, actually for all ages, called The Timeless Cavern. He will also be publishing shortly a nonfiction work, Hard Work in Paradise—When all Our Food and Lives Were Organic.


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