"You're blind as a bat," said Mr. Man. "You need new glasses."
"Shut up and read me the directions on the Macaroni-n-Cheese box," I said.
I don't want to say he was right about my less than 20/20 vision because that goes against everything I stand for. But I'm woman enough to admit that he was less wrong than he normally is.
I hate going to the optometrist. Hate it, hate it, hate it. I'm all about personal space and doctors of the eye area tend to want to get up in my face and breathe on me. I don't enjoy that.
I also do not enjoy giving them several hundred of my dollars for something I know full well cannot possibly cost that much. I'm a bargain shopper from way back and it irks me that I have to pay retail for anything...ever. I guess I was hoping I'd find a pair of prescription eyeglasses at a garage sale or lying on the side of the road somewhere.
I just used the plural of the make-believe word "irk". See how frustrated these people make me?
So, when I saw an ad on television for a place two hours away that was having a SALE on eyeglasses, you can imagine my delight.
"Mr. Pookie! Mr. Pookie! Wake up!," Although his name is Mr. Man, sometimes when we're alone I call him by his pet name. I'm affectionate like that.
"I'm going to drive four hours round trip to get eyeglasses on sale today," I said as I walked into the wall.
"I'll drive you," he said.
The whole way there Mr. Man gave me impromptu eye exams using road sings, license plates and mail boxes that I thought were cows being very, very still. "Can you see that?" he'd ask.
"I don't know. Can you see this?" Because my daughter might read this, let's say I was holding up a peace sign.
We arrived at We Be Cheap Eyeglasses and was immediately handed a stack of papers to fill out. "Is this a test?" I asked, squinting at the microscopic print.
"I'll do it," said Mr. Man, who thinks he's better than me because he can see tiny words.
"Do you want the full eye exam for $50.00 more, or the basic eye exam which is free?" the twelve-year-old with multiple piercings and black fingernails asked me.
"What's the difference?"
"Well if you have a tumor or something, the doctor wouldn't be able to tell if you only have the basic exam," she said as she spit the nail she had just chewed off her index finger into the air.
"Tumor! I could have a tumor in there?"
Here is your sales tip for the day, kids. Any time you want to make a fast buck, casually mention to an obsessive-compulsive that they could have a tumor behind their eye and then tell them the only way they can find out is to hand over fifty dollars. You won't even need a gun or a ski mask.
"Not only do I want the tumor exam thingie, I will pay extra if you'll have him take a look at this red bump on my chest," I said pulling up my shirt. "It looks a little suspicious, don't you think?"
After Mr. Man made me put my clothes back on, he finished up the paperwork and together we waited patiently for the man with the D and the R in front of his name to summon me.
"I'm going to laugh if you have to get bi-focals", said Mr. Man while I looked over the hundreds of frames that lined the walls.
"Laugh all you want Sporty Spice, but if I have to get bifocals, I am leaving here and going straight to Jay's Mid-Life Crisis Emporium and picking up a twenty-five-year-old cabana boy and a gallon of Botox."
"Ms. Crazy On Your Face," called a four-hundred pound woman with dirty sneakers and blue eye-shadow. "Walk this way, please."
(That joke is way too cheap and way too easy, so I'll pretend I don't notice the opportunity.)
I followed her into a tiny room that featured a broken chair and cheap carpeting. "That old chair has been broken a long time," said the morbidly obese lady who probably didn't even know her shoes were dirty because she hadn't seen them since she bought them. "Just don't put all your weight in it or make any sudden moves and you'll be fine."
"That's ok," said polite me. "I know that broken chairs and ugly fixtures mean that you are passing the savings on to me."
"If you'll have a seat behind this enormous and mysterious looking machine, we'll get started. Please place your chin on this germ-infested chin holder and press your nose into the very same nose hole that woman in the waiting room you saw blowing her nose into her shirt sleeve had hers on mere seconds ago."
"Where's the doctor?" I asked as I squirted the contents of my ever present bottle of Germ-X over the entire surface of the eye-tumor detecting machine from outer space.
"Oh, you will see him as soon as we're finished here. Don't worry, Ma'am. I'm highly trained on this equipment." Those words might have offered some comfort had she not been simultaneously banging the top of it like it was a cheap tv and the reception was bad.
Turns out this scientific piece of equipment did nothing more than force me to watch a very slow game of Pong and mash a button whenever I saw the little ball move across the screen.
"Good news!" she said after what felt like an eternity. "No nasty eye-tumors...plus you got the high score! What are your initials?"
After she stood across the room and shot an air rifle blast into each eye, she crawled up on her Rascal and had me follow her to an even smaller room with even worse carpeting.
On the wall hung a poster of really stressed out and obviously terrified kitties hanging onto a tree branch for dear life. I can't remember what the sentiment beneath the picture read, but I think it was, "We are so terrified and stressed out! Why doesn't that man put his camera down and help us down from here?"
Just as I picked up my phone to call the humane society, into my room walked the big guy with the impressive letters in front of his name. "So what brings you here today?" he asked.
"Oh, the usual. I think mailboxes are cows and I can't see the letters when Vanna flips them."
"I'd like you to look through these gigantic glasses that I have suspended from the ceiling on cables and simply read the letters you see on the wall," he said as he scooted so close to me that I could immediately tell he was not Jewish.
"The letters, please."
"Good. And now with the other eye, please."
"Good. Now I will click this technical clickie thing that I went to school for five years to learn how to operate and you tell me whether your vision becomes better or worse."
"Better. No! Worse. No, no! Wait a minute," the pressure was unimaginable. "It's sort of better and sort of worse. I have no idea!"
"And what about now? Better? Or worse?"
"Are you even a real optometrist? Unless it's hidden behind that motivational picture of the tortured kitties, I don't see a diploma on the wall."
"Ms. Crazy On Your Face, it looks like you need bifocals."
I think I blacked out for a minute because the next thing I knew, paramedics were hauling the good doctor out on a stretcher and I was being told I didn't need to come back for my glasses as they would be shipped to my home, which they hoped was far, far away.
"So," I said to Mr. Man as we drove out of the parking lot, "Do you know how to get to Jay's Mid-Life Crisis Emporium or should I call Triple A?"
Copyright © 2004-2005, Sherri Bailey
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