"Boy, I got vision, and the rest of the world wears bi-focals" (Paul Newman to Robert Redford in "Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid.")
If you are reading this column in 28 font, blame not my editor, but yours truly. It's been a rough day for the peepers.
And to the ophthalmologist, who, years back, cursed, (oops), um...I mean "prescribed" so-called "progressive lenses" for me, thank you...very little! Not that I'm holding a grudge, but may the biting flies of a thousand camels seek lifelong refuge in your armpits!
They say every time a bell rings that means an angel got his wings. Not true. Every time a bell rings, it's a cash register, and some optician just paid off his mortgage thanks to another poor, unsuspecting schmuck who has become the newest victim of these torturous little demons known as progressive lenses.
In my other world, I do much driving and at some point, I gave in to my OCD and bought four pairs of glasses, two regular, two sunglasses...just in case! Throwing in progressive lenses into the equation, well....think gas can into a bon fire!
The doctor sold me on not having the ominous "line" in the middle of the lenses, explaining that the middle of my lenses are now instead shaped like a bowling pin. That pretty much means I can now eat a pear with pin point precision accuracy. As for seeing, well...
The high price (X 4 pairs) became more and more cost prohibitive until finally, after my yearly exams, the doc would hand me an updated script and I would chuckle, say "Yeah right!" and just wing it into the very prestigious and all important, most sacred underwear drawer of my bureau, where all really important stuff goes. (Like underwear.) Hey, it's cheaper than a safe.
Well, the years passed, the scripts piled up, and it became tougher to open my underwear drawer, even when Wal-Mart wasn't having sales on underwear, and I started noticing changes in my reading habits. I started out obediently doing the up, down thing with the peepers. Think optic jumping jacks. Once again "Yeah, right!" So, five minutes later when that fad ended, I began cheating, by simply pushing the specs just a tad down the shnozz. Over time, the glasses had to be pushed further down the shnozz. (I think I like that word!) Finally, they made it down to the very end of my shnozz, and the next step was completely off my shnozz. Next came holding literature closer and closer to my face, until now the pages are creased by my, yes, you guessed it.... my "shnozz." I now read at a lightning speed of about one very large printed word per minute. Evelyn Wood could have retired with just me as a client!
That predicament and mid-life male vanity made me reconsider something from my youth: contact lenses. (They are still cheaper than a convertible!)
Further reflection made me also realize that with contacts, I could cut back to one pair each of prescription glasses and sunglasses and a pair of cheap, non-prescription sunglasses. It was a win-win solution, or so it first seemed.
One pair of sunglasses recently broke at the frame. The optician pronounced it dead on arrival. Another pair was mangled, bent and the arms cracked in five places total. Another pair of glasses was on life support with a cracked hinge, and the remaining pair was so bent one lens kept popping out as did the hinge screw next to it. These glasses were repaired, albeit gingerly, and the other three declared unworthy on my last visit to the optician three weeks ago. They also told me that while my glasses weren't really "old," Moses was still in a training toga and the Red Sea was still pink when I first purchased them, so there was no hope of finding new lenses for these glorious frames from yesteryear. Now I know how computers feel an hour after manufacture.
Money has been a little tight recently so I've been trying to save but obviously, the glasses had a destiny planned and today the screw and lens popped out again. I terminated my work day early and in a moment of desperation, called an optical store to inquire of financing. In fact they said they had their own credit card. I breached the doorway before the phone was back in the cradle! (OK, OK...battery charger!)
The store had quite stringent credit requirements. I was checked for two thumbs, absence of a tail, had my pulse verified and a mirror held up to my mouth. Having passed all these arduous tests with flying colors I was soon the proud Daddy of a new and obviously quite elite credit line!
To further entice me, the store offered a 50% off sale, and with the discount, the total came to about $900.00 out the door. They even fixed my old glasses again, but handled them like they were radioactive.
I was then fitted with my new glasses with all kinds of gadgets, widgets and gizmos attached to my glasses while the optician kept taking measurements, along with numerous pictures of me, and adding all this data into the computer. It's been a while since I have been into an optical store. (Think crowded underwear drawer!) I was impressed by all the new high-tech toys, but I was suspicious enough when he took several pictures and measurements, but when he asked for my turn-ons and turn-offs he gave it away. Yes, look for me in the centerfold of next month's issue of "Play-Optician." I'll be the sexy guy with his eyes closed but sporting new specs.
The bad news was that my new glasses would not be ready for two weeks. I confidently informed the optician that I had no worries, as last time he repaired my old frames, he made them last for three weeks. Then we discussed financing on my new credit line. No interest for six months, but if the balance is not paid off in full within six months, cumulated interest of 29,9% interest, on top of the interest for the seventh month will be added to the balance. As I'm doing the math of roughly 210% interest on almost a thousand bucks, all of a sudden, bumping into walls and that occasional trip and fall were sounding better. And reading is over-rated anyway. Neanderthals did fine without it.
With an ominous grin, the optician then had me sign on the bottom line. I suddenly felt like Faust. I'm considering taking on three or four more jobs... just in case, mind you. No, it's not the OCD again, but just the immense fear of getting paid a visit by a black Cadillac come the seventh month. And I don't mean by three nerdy little bespectacled guys wearing lab coats with pocket protectors and carrying slide rules (Kids...ask your parents!), but three big, ugly guys with scarred faces, deep, scratchy tomb-like voices, wide, flaring nostrils, hairy knuckles, and going by names like "Tony Thumbs," "Vinny the Nose" (I wouldn't dare call his a "shnozz"!), and "Louie the Squeeze," and all on a mission to do a little tap dance on my knee caps with a Louisville Slugger if I fail to pay "the vig" until I sing in high notes never, heard before emanating from an erect walking mammal containing testosterone!
Having sealed the deal for six months of payments, or six pints of blood, whichever comes first, I swallowed, took a deep breath, pulled the seat upholstery out of my underwear, stood up, and numbly walked to the other end of the store, labeled the "Optometry" section to now arrange a fitting for contact lenses to accompany my newly purchased glasses.
I was about 2/3 through the transaction to be fitted as the girl was setting up my appointment and also entering my data into her computer when some gnawing inner voice told me to mention my newly acquired store credit line. The girl stopped typing, looked up and calmly, matter-of-factly apprised me that the store does not accept its own credit card in this particular department. "Huh?" "Yes, Sir, that's right. I'm sorry, that credit line is only for purchasing glasses here, not contact lenses." That's like Lady Liberty refusing to eat apple pie. (With the other hand, of course.) I persisted in my argument but lost. No surprise. Somehow you just lose all credibility when your hands shake, your mouth drops open, drool drips off the bottom of your chin and a wide open gaze commandeers your eyes with that same look you have when 20 minutes after eating that microwaved burrito, it finally finds a home in your digestive tract.
It's OK. Baby steps, baby steps. Rome wasn't built in a day, and they say all good things come to those who wait. But in my case, especially for the next two weeks, I just hope that "good thing" I have coming isn't the downtown "C Route" bus.... just as I'm precariously stumbling across the street.
Think high notes again.