A few years ago I was getting new glasses for Chickadee—whose ocular health I attend to with a smothering level of unwavering attention, owing to the pediatric ophthalmologist who saw her when she was a wee tot and assured me that it was good we were there, otherwise she MIGHT HAVE GONE BLIND in that one wonky eye of hers—and it occurred to me that MY glasses were sort of old. So I browsed around and found some frames I liked and when the optician asked if I had a current prescription I said—because my health is important, y’all—“Well, I can see okay out of these ones I’m wearing now. Can you get the prescription off of them?” And he did.
As a result, I am walking around in a prescription that is around six years old. I don’t want to get all technical on you, but in optical parlance that’s considered IDIOTIC, and so it came as a surprise to no one except me when I started having a lot of trouble seeing these last few months. But after endless weeks of squinting at the computer screen and daily headaches, I ran right out to see the eye doctor.
You may recall that we have this handy little GPS unit, and I love it and hug it and call it
George Audrey, and so I looked up the optical place and got the address and programmed it in and figured I was all set. For the sake of discussion, let’s say that the address was 1234 Bigass Road.
I skipped off to my appointment yesterday, leaving myself PLENTY OF TIME because I like to be prompt and occasionally I get lost. Yes, even with the GPS. Shut it.
Well, I drove and drove and drove and drove to my designated exit, and Audrey told me to EXIT RIGHT, so I did, and then she told me to KEEP RIGHT ON BIGASS ROAD, which I did, and then she said ARRIVING AT DESTINATION ON RIGHT.
On my right? A liquor store. I like the way Audrey thinks, truly, but at that moment I was really more hoping to go to the eye doctor. I told Audrey perhaps we could knock back a couple after the glaucoma test, but that first I had to FIND THE DAMN OFFICE.
The thing about Bigass Road, of course, is that—wait for it—it’s kind of a bigass road. Like, three lanes in each direction, lots of traffic, and strip malls and office building galore. So at first I thought maybe the eye office was set back from the road… maybe BEHIND the liquor store? But no. It was nowhere. I drove a little further and then managed to turn around.
I called Otto on my cell phone.
Me: I WENT WHERE AUDREY SAID TO GO AND IT’S NOT HERE AND I HAVE FIVE MINUTES TO FIND IT AND I DON’T KNOW WHERE I AM WHERE IS IT??
Me: HELP. ME.
Him: Okay, let’s see. Where are you now?
Me: I’m coming up on Suchandsuch mall.
Him: Is that inside or outside of the loop?
Him: Are you on the inside or the outside of the loop, right now?
Me: I AM IN MY CAR.
(That Otto is a LUCKY, LUCKY MAN. It is a neverending joy, being married to me.)
After some discussion (which involved me accidentally getting back on the highway! oops!), Otto successfully navigated for me and I ended up at the eye doctor—about a mile from where Audrey told me it was. It was also on the opposite side of the road.
I parked and went in.
Optician: Hi, welcome to Eye Place!
Me: Hi! Guess what! I do not think this is 1234 Bigass Road!
Optician: *looking at me like I have twelve heads* Right… that’s because it’s not. This is 3241 Bigass Road.
Me: Really? Well that explains it. YOU MIGHT WANT TO TELL GOOGLE.
Needless to say, we hit it off immediately.
The optometrist couldn’t have been a day over ninety, and he talked a lot. A LOT. He also pulled articles out of a manila folder he kept on his desk, to illustrate his talky talky points.
For example: I said that I’ve never been able to wear contacts, because my eyes are too dry, but did he think maybe I should try again, because—
Before I could finish, he had whipped two articles out of his trusty folder and was talking a mile a minute. One article was about subjective perception of vision correction with contact lenses in people with astigmatism. (Summary: Toric lenses move around a lot. People report blurriness when the lenses move. Wear glasses.) The other one was about how eyes get dryer with age. (Summary: The older you are, the dryer your eyes. People over 40 shouldn’t wear contacts. The end.)
Me: Hey! I’m only 36!
Him: Yes, but you already have dry eyes. Give it up.
When I was able to get a word in edgewise, I pointed out that once upon a time I’d had separate glasses for reading and working on the computer, and I don’t quite remember when someone told me I didn’t need those anymore, but given that I sit at a computer for twelve hours a day and am starting to be unable to see a damn thing, could we maybe get me some glasses specifically for close work?
He pulled out another article. This one was about the loss of focusing ability that comes with advanced age. (Summary: As you get older, everything stops working, even your eyes. Consider yourself lucky that you can still get to the bathroom on time.)
Then he examined my eyes, and GUESS WHAT! I need a different prescription. SHOCKING!
I also need reading glasses. And a translator who speaks Abbott and Costello:
Him: The reading glasses are really just a less strong prescription.
Me: Okay, so, will they also magnify stuff? Because everything seems kind of small.
Him: Yes, they will do less minifying.
Him: Yes, because you’re near-sighted your glasses normally minify, or make things smaller, to bring your vision into focus.
Me: So the reading glasses will have some magnification?
Him: They’ll be less minifying, yes.
Me: But will they MAGNIFY?
Him: They won’t minify.
(At that point I committed a ritualistic impaling on the little wand I’d been using to cover one eye.)
I got away from the optometrist and went back out front to choose some frames. I was the only one there in the middle of the day, so I had the whole place to myself, and the optician was very attentive. In a stroke of EXTREME LUCK (about time, no?), she also had EXACTLY the same face shape that I do. So for the first time EVER I had someone who was actually REALLY GOOD at helping me pick frames.
(It’s a sad, sad story. I have a very narrow face, so the rectangular frames that everyone is wearing now which I LOOOOOVE make me look like a pinched weasel. I require a shape that does not have a right angle at the lower outer corners, but cuts in so as to dispel the appearance of my face being only the width of a strand of vermicelli.)
This particular optical place offers deals on complete sets of glasses where EVERY FRAME IN THE SHOP is the same price. I love that. I mean, we all know they’re paying $3 a pair, anyway, so why not make it easy? I was loving life, going through all of the frames, not worrying about the cost.
Except. I couldn’t find anything I really liked. Part of that is because—when you wear glasses—trying on glasses is a losing game. As soon as you take OFF your glasses, you can’t see very well. Then you put on a frame, and you have to press your nose up against the magnifying mirror to even barely see yourself, at which point if you’re lucky you can’t really see because the lenses of the frames always have something useful like the brand name stamped across them, and if you’re NOT so lucky, you spend that time in the mirror going, “Damn, I should’ve plucked my eyebrows before I came in. Is that a zit? JESUS, when was the last time I had my color done?” and so on.
So out of nowhere, the optician comes up with a pair of rimless titanium frames. (You know the kind—they’re essentially two lenses held together by a small bridge in the center, and then the wispy arms are drilled directly into the lenses.) “I just love these,” she confided, “and I just bought a pair for myself. The shape is perfect. Try them on! You’re gonna love them.”
She of course waited until I had them on and decided that I DID love them to tell me that those frames were more expensive than the others, on account of they require polycarbonate lenses, and also they are assembled by endangered fairies in a forest in Upper Slobovia.
But. They WERE the right shape. They also weighed about half an ounce and were practically invisible. I wavered. And then I ordered them, because MERRY CHRISTMAS! Allow me to open my wallet and allow everyone in this town to GRAB A HANDFUL OF MONEY!
I also ordered a pair of (cheap!) computer glasses, and am looking forward to finding out what work is like when I’m not squinting and rubbing my temples. Though according to some of those articles I read yesterday, I suppose I’m lucky to still be able to lift my arms at all.