Wednesday, November 14

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before

I have expensive taste in eyewear. This is partly due to what the cultural sadists among us refer to as "fashion sense", and partly due to the fact that I've been wearing cheaters since age ten (I was a precocious child; the warnings about masturbation came too late) and thus appreciate the difference between well-made and cheap glasses in a visceral way; the faint impression of the nosepiece of a crappy pair I was saddled (obscure optometry pun*) with in 1967 is still visible if the lighting is right. And it's part accident: I live in the trendy little village of Broad Ripple, ** so my local optometrist is, well, trendy.

One nice thing about fashionable eyewear, aside from the fact that paying for it pretty much forces you to forgo the use of gasoline for a year, is that the modern trendy optometrist helpfully provides you with a list of celebrities who share your taste, except they get theirs gratis. I'm now a part of the Lunor family, alongside Stephen Spielberg, Ringo Starr, David Letterman, and Oprah. We have a LISTSERV group.

This made me wonder about what my first pair would have been like back in '64 if we'd have been so all-fired fucking celebrity obsessed. Here, kid, try these on. Abe Zapruder favors 'em.

The other salient feature of this place is that they have a battery of testing devices which, taken together, provide an answer to the mystery of what Josef Mengele was up to in his final years. The "patient" is laced, cuffed, or hydraulically flattened into a series of machines which contort him in various ways while all performing the identical task of shooting laser beams directly into his skull while he presses a clicker to indicate how close he is to passing out. The experience was actually remarkably similar to the time I saw Pink Floyd in 1974.

All of this occurs before they lead you, half-blind, into the exam room so you can sit in the chair while wondering if the doctor is, in fact, aware that he's scheduled to work this particular shift. This time he showed, eventually, and this time he told me that my pressure was higher than normal, although my glaucoma test was fine, and he'd be wanting to see me repeatedly for the next year to sample my baseline. I said I thought we should just meet for coffee first and see what happened. It turns out that humor is frowned upon in ophthalmology circles.

He told me very soothingly, twice, that I shouldn't lose any sleep over this, it was just precautionary. Which just makes me suspicious. Our first scheduled rendez-vous was two weeks ago. I arrived with the impression that I was just there to get my pressure checked, but instead I found myself being force-fed to half the machines again before being led, mad with vertigo, into a sound-proofed room where they keep the real torture devices. And I am now beginning to get the impression that something is horribly wrong with my eyes, there's some Malignant Monkey Growth he discovered last week and refused to tell me about before he could contact the CDC, and they're mostly interested in making sure the thing is confined to my skull for the few hours I have left and doesn't splash on anyone else when it explodes. I eventually got another pressure test (the tech actually forgot that one and I was pulled out of the exam room for it, another clue that they weren't being straight with me). So I got another dose of those eyeball-numbing drops, despite the fact that, as I tried to explain, the ones I'd gotten the previous week still seemed to be working, if by "working" one meant a continuation of the splitting headache I'd had constantly since. The tech looked at me like a nun looks at a condemned man (she was about eighteen inches away, so I could still see her) and then told me a story about her new puppy.

Several hours and no explosion later the doctor returned--I'm guessing he'd gotten the All Clear from Atlanta--and gave me some more drops, and shot another light into my eyes to see if there was anything left undestroyed, and he told me that my pressure was still high, but he now knew the reason--I have thicker corneas than previously observed in the species, which were giving a false reading. This reminded me that I had neglected to add "mutant" to my medical questionnaire.

SO they arrived last week, along with the Oakley shades (Michael Jordan, Djibril Cissé), and I've had the pleasure of trying to adjust to continual focus lenses, or gradient lenses, or whatever the hell they call 'em. I got them mostly because I felt obligated--I resisted bi-focals last time around, and everybody was so concerned about me I thought the least I could do was take their advice. And ten days later I still take 'em off to read and put them on top of my head in order to read boilerplate in public.

Which is what I was doing in the pasta aisle of the grocery yesterday. Mr. Riley has used De Cecco pasta (Jessica Alba, Christian Slater, Dom DeLuise) for the last thirty years, whenever possible, but certain shapes aren't available, so I was trying to read the fine print on some prohibitively expensive designer creste di gallo and there's a guy walking up and down and up and down and UP AND DOWN the friggin' aisle yammering non-fucking-stop into a fucking headset. And, no, he doesn't appear to work there, or be the field representative of some vendor, or to have dashed in from his job at Burger King; he's got a basket, which he is presently engaged in not filling because he's talking NON-FUCKING-STOP into this foolish piece of shit looped onto his head, and like all such people who just can't stop conducting their personal lives, ever, he's doing so at a volume you'd use to call a distant dog, and he's talking about nothing whatsoever, because if you had anything to actually talk about you wouldn't behave that way. And I'm still nursing that eyeball numb-er hangover. And I look up to give him the glare which says okay, at this point, if you were worth going to jail over the person on the other end of that foul contraption would now be listening to your internal digestive processes, and I notice that he's, like, thirty-five years old.

They hate us for our freedom.

* The bridge of pair of eyeglasses is shaped either like a saddle, or a keyhole. I'm a keyhole, unless I misunderstood the guy.

**I don't, and neither do 50% of the other people who claim to and 75% of the businesses that advertise a Broad Ripple location. The Village (more casually Ripple) was a small town on the Central Canal (actually two small towns, Broad Ripple and Wellington, one on either side) which was devoured by the cultural colossus that is Indianapolis in the 1920s. Hit hard economically in the 1950s when the first mega-mall went up a couple miles away, it bounced back as the commercial center of what passes for Bohemianism in the Middle West, and It retained its small-town atmosphere and 1920s infrastructure into the latter stages of the 20th century, when its high-powered merchants association--the closest thing it has to local governance--decided the more liquor licenses they allowed to be crammed into a three block area the better.


bdr said...

But your haircut: Djibril Cissé?

Mithras said...


Anonymous said...

this is going to look like spam, but i have absofuckinglutely no connection whatsoever to this site, i just thought you might be interested in not foregoing gasoline for a year. although, honestly, you should forego the gasoline for a year ANYWAYS and just ride a bicycle, but thats not always possible i imagine. not everyone is as hardcore as i am. or youthful, either.

heydave said...

For another exciting twist, why not go for bifocal contact lenses? Then, or so I hear, when one eye changes "up" and the other "down" you find yourself tilting your head to look at things clearly.
Which doesn't so much freak you out as it does those around you.

dms said...

I hate to say this, but, having read this post, I have lost major respect for you. Trendy glasses and practically an MRI to determine your pressure? You people (I know how everyone loves that phrase) in Indiana make loads more money than we artsy types in NY.

And the story with bifocal contact lenses: the differences are factored in concentric circles; there is no top and bottom. The real trick is, after having worn trifocals for years, getting a pair of bifocal contacts that accommodate all three "visions." Usually involves getting a pair of reading glasses, which you need to do the NYTimes crossword puzzle.

Grace Nearing said...

During one eye examination, I reacted so violently to the air-puff-into-the-eyeball test that the machine was knocked out of commission and had to be recalibrated by the manufacturer.

Score one for me.

But I also bruised my chin from all the vertical ricocheting while my head was in the contraption.

Score one for the contraption.

It's the 21st century. They can clone primates now. Can't they come up with a test that's more sleek and sophisticated than blasts of air into one's eyeballs?

punkinsmom said...

I want the record to show that not every 35-year-old in the Midwest grocery shops with a cell phone to his or her ear. But then again, I don't buy designer glasses either....

pookapooka said...

Rile (as "Thorny" used to call his neighbor in that wacky '50's series "The Life Of..." [Bendix, DeFore]) (and boy, do it seem such an appropriate moniker 4U) --- ever think about luring Andy Rooney to the Andaman Islands, "forgetting" to pass him his return ticket, and installing yourself in back of his 60-minute desk? A little facial/scalp hair modification and the dumbfuc* suits at CBS wouldn't be able to tell the dif at all. And then your kute kurmudgeonery would gather a much greater fandom than us poor ~8 saps who are hip enough to actually read and guffaw over your observations about The Life Of...

Aloha always, in hopes of securing the t-shirt and coffee mug franchises,


podunkery said...

your "**" footnote is quite possibly the best historical summary of Broad Ripple ever.

pookapooka said...

your "**" footnote

And timely, too, because I was just itchin' to snitch on you to the PC Squad, FairerSex/Oenophile Division, who would no doubt detain you for a round of "questioning," as they used to call it.

gmanedit said...

I gave up on graded lenses. You can't comfortably read through the bottom section. Now I've got drugstore reading glasses at hand everywhere.