Seeing is believing
Every day is a new adventure now that I require reading glasses.
In recent months I have misread price tags, sales flyers, recipes, road maps, aspirin bottles, calendars and even my own watch. I have put body wash in my hair and shampoo on my body. Needless to say, it is maddening.
So just buy a pair of reading glasses, you say? Trust me, I have. I bought a three-pack of magnifiers at the drug store. After putting one pair in my purse, one pair in my desk at home and one pair in my school bag, I quickly realized I needed more. Back I went, purchasing three more pairs. One went in the glove box of my car, another in the bedroom nightstand, and the last was tucked into a kitchen drawer.
All set, right? No. Still, it wasn’t enough. Each weekday, I work at three different desks at school (classroom, library and office), so I needed more. Three additional pairs were purchased, one for each desk drawer.
At school, I had my bases covered. But back at home was another story. I can see just fine to watch TV at night, but as soon as I try to read the remote control or share a bedtime story with my daughter, I need glasses. So I got a pair to keep near the couch, and a new pair for the bedroom nightstand because the first pair I bought already had fallen apart. (One of the hazards of inexpensive magnifiers, I’ve found.)
As my scores of specs deteriorated even faster than my vision, I started swapping them around, which meant I never seemed to have a pair when I needed one. Without glasses, I was useless. I’d search for better light, squint, widen my eyes, and extend my arm way further than God intended. I relied on the kindness of strangers, asking sales clerks, pharmacists and baggers to tell me what the debit card screen wanted next. My 7-year-old is helpful, but can’t be relied upon to decide how much cash back I need at the grocery store.
Lizzie: “How many zeros does 50 dollars have?”
Me: “It depends. Is there a decimal point?”
Liz: “I can’t tell.”
Me: “Never mind. Thanks anyway.”
My husband, who has worn glasses since grade school, does not understand my struggle. He suggested I just get glasses I could wear all the time. But I don’t need glasses all the time. I need them about half of the time. That’s when it dawned on me. I work in a school library, for heaven’s sake, so I am the perfect candidate for the glasses that dangle on a librarian’s chain. It was the answer to my prayers. They’d be with me always.
Losing no time, I scheduled an appointment with the eye doctor and got a prescription for “real glasses.” After my exam, the doc candidly announced, “You really only need reading glasses. You probably could get away with magnifiers, like the ones you see in the drug store.” Really? You don’t say.
So I ordered my $200 glasses, and they were sturdy and fabulous: the kind that would not stretch out, lose screws and rhinestones, and ultimately fall apart in 90 days or less. They were perfect. I was thrilled. And to keep them with me at all times, I bought a cool librarian chain. Voila...problem solved, right? Oh, no. The chain fell apart after one week of heavy use at school. And I’m not going to lie, I felt like a nerd with those glasses dangling around my neck all day. I’d forget I had them on, and get them tangled in my seat belt and coat zipper. Even worse, if I kept them on during lunch, they would collect crumbs. Then when I put them on in a hurry, the crumbs would stick to my sweater or sail into my hair. This was not how I wanted to be remembered.
I threw away the chain, and went back to my dozen-pair solution, adding my overpriced readers to the collection. I then invested in tons of cases to better protect each pair from damage. The soft cases were too flimsy. The hard cases were too small, too big or too expensive. A few were just right. I was like the Goldilocks of glasses. When had life become so difficult?
“I want Lasik surgery,” I’d whine. And my husband would remind me he has dealt with glasses and contact lenses for 45 years. I don’t know how the poor thing has survived.
My vision, fortunately or unfortunately, isn’t poor enough for Lasik surgery, my doc says. But there’s still hope, because I’m pretty sure my eyesight is getting worse. I normally can drive in the car just fine without glasses of any kind, but something happened the other day that made me start to wonder.
After school I was driving my daughter to ballet class. I looked into a marsh off Route 1 and saw a massive moose.
“OH MY GOSH, ELIZABETH!” I cried. “LOOK at THAT!”
I braked and steered my car into the breakdown lane, pointing at the brown blob in my vision. And just before I shouted, “BEHOLD, the MAJESTIC MOOSE!” my furry friend came into focus. It wasn’t a moose at all. It turned out to be the root system of a tree that must have blown over in a storm the previous day.
“SERIOUSLY, WOW!” I continued, trying to still sound enthusiastic as I covered up my mistake. “Look at that poor tree all tipped over like that over there! Whoa. Heh heh. Crazy, huh?!”
As I accelerated and merged back into traffic, my eye caught hers in the rear-view mirror. Instantly, I knew she wasn’t buying what I was selling.
“You thought that tree was a moose, didn’t you, Mom,” she said casually, munching Goldfish crackers.
There’s hope for me yet.
And the beat goes on.