About two years ago, I went to a new optical place to have my eyes checked and to get new glasses. Some quick math reveals that I had already been living in Georgia for… erm… three and a half years, by then, and it was my first eye exam in this state. Prior to then, I’d just assumed my prescription was fine and not bothered with an exam. Oops.
But by the time I went in, I was having trouble seeing. I knew I needed an updated prescription. So off I went, and I was introduced to the wonder that was the ocular pressure testing wand and I got fitted for daily contact lenses and it was all very exciting. If you go back and look at that post, you’ll notice that I made absolutely no mention of having my eyes dilated at that exam. This will become important, later.
Anyway. A year after that last appointment, Dr. Eyeball’s office developed an unrequited crush on me. At first, postcards arrived in the mail. “Hi, Mir! We hope you’ve had a great year! We miss you here at Optical Place and you’re due for an exam! WHY NOT CALL TODAY YOU HORRIBLE PERSON?!” (I threw the cards out, of course, but I’m pretty sure that’s what they said.) Then there were emails. And finally, phone messages.
Geez, Optical Place, take the hint: I’M JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU.
Rather, I wasn’t. For a while. And then… I started having trouble seeing, again. Sonofabitch. But by the time I called for an appointment—last week—it had been close to two years, and their slightly stalkery attempts to get me in there for a yearly exam had tapered off. They were very happy to hear from me, though, and booked me in for an appointment just a few days after I’d called.
So I headed over there and checked in and signed the paperwork they gave me (yes, I promise to pay you; yes, I understand you won’t give my information to anyone else; yes, that’s still my address; and no, I won’t sue you if you accidentally perforate my eyeball with the glaucoma pressure testing wand) and headed to the Big Wall O’ Frames to poke around while I waited for the doctor. And I discovered something HORRIFYING.
Apparently, we’re all supposed to be hipsters, now. Did you know this? I mean, heck, even Snooki is wearing nerd glasses, so it must be true. The entire wall was filled with oversized plastic frames, most of them black, and I suddenly felt like I was standing there in my acid-wash, tapered-leg jeans, trying to discern which frames would best bring me joy and popularity in eighth grade. (Answer: NONE OF THEM.)
“Can I help you find something?” chirped a perky optician, having just finished up with someone and now coming over with some concern. My panic must’ve been evident on my face.
“I, uh, well… I have an appointment with Dr. Eyeball, and then I’m going to pick out some new glasses, I guess. But I feel like EVERYTHING here is kind of… giant… and hipstery… and I don’t know if you can tell from looking at me in all my unhipness, but I am not actually a hipster.”
This seemed to perplex her, somewhat. “Oh, that’s just the style, now!” she assured me, as if that made it all better.
“Ah. Yes. Well! Let me rephrase: I am not so much digging this style. Can you help me find something that doesn’t look like it’s eating my face?” We looked together for a couple of minutes, and then it was time for my exam. She said she’d see me after and we could look some more.
I went off to see Dr. Eyeball, and explained that I’d been having some trouble seeing, and she flipped lenses around on the big thing you look through while asking, “1 or 2? 3 or 4? 5 or 6?” and within minutes had concluded that yes, my astigmatism has worsened, and I do need a new prescription. While the big metal thing was still up to my face, I’d heard the exam room door open and then close, and when the device was swung away from my face, another perky young woman was standing next to me. I smiled at her, a bit confused, and she… handed me a tissue.
I took it, and stared at it. “Thank you…? Am I about to cry?” Both the young woman and Dr. Eyeball laughed; apparently she was here to put drops in my eyes, hence the tissue. OH. That made more sense. We all had a laugh.
“According to your chart you didn’t have your eyes dilated the last time you were here,” Dr. Eyeball said, flipping through my folder. “So we’ll do it today. You really should have it done every couple of years.”
My mind went back to that exam a couple of years ago. She’d wanted to dilate my eyes, and I assured her that I’d had it done at my last eye appointment, so maybe we could just skip it. Nevermind that my last eye appointment had been upwards of four years prior; I have NEVER had my eyes dilated. Readers, I am a lying liarpants who lies. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear even to me, I have ALWAYS lied to whomever was doing the examining and assured them that I had it done last time! I’ll do it next time! And that is how I came to be 41 years old without ever having had my eyes dilated. And yes, I know that I am ridiculous.
I decided to try to be a Responsible Grownup and said, “Okay, that’s fine.” Perky Tissue Girl squirted some numbing drops into my eyes, first, and then the dilation drops. Dr. Eyeball checked my ocular pressure and declared me free of glaucoma. Then she said it would be another 20 minutes or so before I was fully dilated, so if I wanted to go back out and pick some frames while I waited, that would be fine.
Back out in Hipsterland I found myself still quite annoyed with the frame selection. What if I don’t WANT black plastic? Or RHINESTONES? (Is that hipstery? What’s with the rhinestones, people?) Or if I want something that just, you know, is proportional to my face? I have a pretty narrow face, anyway, so finding glasses that fit properly can be a challenge even when the world isn’t purposely trying to look like a bunch of kids who stole their grandpa’s glasses. The optician kept bringing out more frames for me and I felt like Goldilocks, all “meh” and “that fits but I don’t like the frame” or “I like the frame but that doesn’t fit” and such. This went on for about 10 minutes, at which point…
… I discovered that I could no longer see. Having never had my eyes dilated before, I always assumed that it just meant things seem really bright. I had no idea it would completely bork my near vision, to the point where I kept picking up a pair of frames and trying to hold it as far away from me as possible so that I might actually be able to focus on it. Of course now both of the opticians were laughing at me and I was still all, “YOU AND YOUR UGLY GLASSES GET OFF MY LAWN.” It was… something. And it was nearly time for the rest of my exam, and I had a couple of pairs of frames picked out as possibilities—one pair much like my current glasses (my pick), and another borderline-hipster pair that I found to be a bit much (which the opticians assured me was just me “out of my comfort zone” and really they were FAB)—so I handed them to the optician and said “Hold these for me, okay?” Then I texted Otto and said HEY HELP PLEASE COME TO THE EYE PLACE I AM BLIND.
The dilated exam wasn’t too bad. I mean, I don’t know what I’d been so afraid of all these years, because it was over in about five minutes. Unfortunately, Dr. Eyeball was all, “Do you know what lattice is?” and I was all, “Sure, I use that in my garden when I grow beans!” and she was all, “Oh, haha, that’s not what I mean.”
Apparently she meant the kind of lattice where your retina is atrophying. (I like my kind better.) It’s not a big deal (so she said, after telling me my retina was atrophying; MAKE UP YOUR MIND, LADY) and is slow-progressing and just requires monitoring, apparently. So now I HAVE to have my eyes dilated every single year. Because otherwise we might not “stay on top of it” and my retina could detach! FUN! (Yes, yes, this is my comeuppance for lying about dilation, I KNOW.) Also, I apparently have an honest-to-God FRECKLE in the same eye. I am completely squicked out by that. I mean, degenerating retina, WHATEVS, but a freckle ON MY EYEBALL seems BAD. It’s not actually. It just—say it with me—requires yearly monitoring, she said, and I’d just started unclenching when she went on to explain that you can develop melanoma IN YOUR EYE and that’s why they monitor it. There was more, but I was curled up in the fetal position in the corner by then.
In conclusion: Take my eyeball, please! Oh, wait. That’s not it.
In conclusion: Otto showed up shortly thereafter and I showed him the two frames we’d set aside, and he liked the pair I liked, and despite both opticians cheering for the other pair, he agreed that they seemed a little… much.
Then I did the only logical thing left to do, which was that I took both frames across the office to the ladies who sit in billing (shut up, they TOLD ME TO when I was in there paying), and first I showed them the hipstery pair and said, “This is the frame the opticians love, but I think it may be a bit large for me.” They oohed and aahed and said, “No, those are fabulous, I really like them, you can totally pull those off!” Otto and I exchanged a glance—at least, I think we did? I was having some trouble seeing, still—and then I put on the other pair and just as I was saying, “And these are the ones I—” both women said, “OH I LIKE THOSE EVEN BETTER!”
So. The frames I picked—size-appropriate cat-eye librarianish specs—will be my new daily glasses. As for the hipstery pair… well… the thing is, they kind of grew on me in spite of myself, so I’m getting those as my computer glasses. I can practice being a hipster in the comfort of my own office, without having to go out in public. Just my speed.
Now all I need to do is listen to bands no one’s ever heard of and stop thinking about the possibility of my retina detaching or my eyeball-freckle turning into cancer. HAHAHAHA.