So I need glasses. This is something I should have seen coming but age has blindsided me while I wasn’t looking and I think you smell what I’m saying here. For most of my life I’ve taken pride in having 20/20 or better vision even while a lot of my friends had glasses, although there was a time in first grade when that had me feeling left out and I told my mother I thought I might need glasses, but she talked me out of it. Then in second grade my teacher thought maybe I was having trouble seeing the blackboard when the truth is I’d just decided math was stupid and boring and I wasn’t going to do it anymore, but that still earned me a trip to an optometrist who freaked me out by wanting to put eyedrops in my eyes. I didn’t want anything in my eyes, even if it was just a liquid, and it didn’t help when he told me it was just saltwater like tears or the ocean. I knew enough biology to know that tears come out of the corners of your eyes and that the ocean is full of plankton and sand and various bodily fluids. After that I was happy to not need any eyewear aside from goggles I wore for swimming, especially in the ocean, although there were times when I wished that, like the horned lizard, I could squirt blood out of my eyes as a defense mechanism for dealing with school bullies since I could only use the “You wouldn’t hit a guy with glasses” line while standing behind one of my friends. In the Bugs Bunny cartoon “Forward March Hare” Bugs is given an eye exam and freaks out the doctor by reading the tiny print at the bottom of the eye chart, and I thought this was hilarious so I freaked out my family doctor by doing the same thing during a checkup, although I’d actually gotten up close and read it while he was out of the room.
In high school I took an advanced biology class and when we did the chapter on the eye I found it really fascinating, especially how the images that are projected onto our eye are upside down but our brain turns them around so we see right-side up, and I said, “So when I’ve got my head upside down why doesn’t my brain turn that image around?” and the teacher told me to get my head off the floor and sit up straight in my seat and not put my feet up in the air. And we were supposed to dissect cow eyes but for some reason the teacher wasn’t able to get them that year which was disappointing because I was also taking a film studies class and was looking forward to recreating the opening scene of Un Chien Andalou, but that’s another story.
Anyway things started well enough at my latest optometrist appointment when an assistant asked me, “Can I dilate you?” and I said, “How about dinner and a movie first?” Actually getting my eyes dilated is my favorite part of any eye appointment because it doesn’t take much and I once had a late afternoon appointment and went out to dinner afterward and spent most of the evening playing with the candle on our table. Then the assistant said, “Read the smallest line of the chart you can make out,” and I said “What chart?” The good news is that I was facing the wrong direction but the bad news is even the largest line of the chart was blurry to me. I tried to fake my way through it but I’m pretty sure I gave the game away when I said, “E, G, M, mushroom, Oscar Wilde, ampersand, upside-down E.”
Then the doctor came in and started talking about giving me a prescription and I said, “For some pills or something?” She explained that I needed progressive lenses. I said, “Well I wouldn’t want any lenses that weren’t cool with equality and social justice.” And then I realized what she was saying and I’m pretty sure I started bleeding a little from my eyes and I said, “Wow, doc, you really know how to hit a guy with glasses.”