The only thing that was clear was that I was overdue for a round with the eye doctor. Even random strangers can tell. I’m playing flagrantly wrong notes on the piano, with conviction, because even with my special piano glasses I’m seeing six lines on the staff instead of five. I’m spreading my fingers on paperbacks to embiggen the print. I’m holding my laptop up to my face and peering over the top of my glasses, while the lower half of my face goes slack and toad-like. In theory I have three areas of focus in my glasses but I keep looking for a fourth in the balcony.
I’m strenuously near-sighted. When I take my glasses off, everyone disappears altogether, and my fitness for polite society disappears along with them. I gaze stupidly into the fog. I scratch my butt. I dig for boogers.
You know you’ve got good friends when they watch you mining away one knuckle deep and say “Aw. She probably needs a new prescription.”
So I went to the eye doctor. I love the eye doctor! Nothing hurts and there’s no untoward poking. Plus, when she asks you to pick A or B, and you pick B, she says “Good!” every time, even when you think you got it wrong.
I’d been told I had cataracts but they were waiting for them to blow up into something really turgid and annoying before doing anything about it. Maybe my cataracts finally matured, I thought. Then they can just set them on fire or impale them with a moonbeam or whatever they do and I’ll be able to see like an eight-year-old again, preferably a different eight-year-old than myself. I couldn’t see the blackboard when I was eight. Cataracts are cloudy areas in the lens, and really not noticeable seven months out of the year in this climate, but a girl can hope.
First the doctor hauls out the machinery and tests for glaucoma by blowing wind up your eyeballs’ skirts. She does them one at a time. After the first one, I watched—from my side—in a state of resigned amusement as she twiddled her apparatus in the wrong direction, looking for my other eye. It’s there. It’s just implausibly close to the first eye. If they were any closer they could correct everything with one monocle. If they were any closer the bridge of my nose could be replaced by a small stepping-stone. Eventually she located it. All was well.
Then on to the other machine. There is a spot to lean your forehead on and a nice chin rest. After a moment’s reflection, I chose to rest my primary chin and let the others bob around below and talk amongst themselves. There was a bright fog in the viewfinder which, after some twiddling on her part, resolved into a very sharp, very bright balloon a mile down a straight road. It was a thing to behold. I could not imagine having the ability to make out that much detail in a distant object. Why, if I could see that well, I wouldn’t have to make anything up. My fiction writing might suffer, but my night driving wouldn’t be so loud.
This is amazing, I thought. By “thought,” I don’t mean the rational kind. That also disappears when my glasses are off. What I thought, in my state of wonderment, was it would be so cool if they could somehow take this big equipment and strap it to my face so I could see like this all the time!
Second thought, several moments later: Oh. Like glasses.
Well, she said my cataracts weren’t ripe enough to pick yet, but she had two new prescriptions for me, Regular and Piano. Next stop, Optician. My self-esteem had dropped a notch when the doctor couldn’t locate my left eye, which totally exists, but I was recovering. And now I had a chance to get nicer glasses than the ones I picked out before. This would be great!
to be continued.