Sunday, March 11, 2012

i spy with my little eye ...

I had my eyes examined. I had to; it was time. Again.

I used to wear glasses. I first realized that I needed glasses during a business trip in the 1990s. A colleague was driving and I was navigating. It was raining and I was squinting to read the signs. As a joke, the driver handed me his glasses and said, “Put these on. Maybe they’ll help.” I put them on instantly the whole world changed. There were no light halos, I could read the street signs halfway down the block, and oncoming car headlamps weren’t as glaring. It was amazingly clear – what I saw out the windshield and the realization that I needed to get glasses.

So I did.

Fave Apricot Frames
Brushed Nickel Ici Berlins
I had three very nice and expensive frames that varied in width, shape, and color. My favorite was a pair of clear, apricot-colored, rectangular frames. They worked well with my guy-lighted hair (it was the 1990s, after all). I had a pair of small, oval, onyx-colored ICI Berlin frames and a pair of ICI Berlin larger brushed nickel frames. And, yes, I had long hair once.

Then I got my dog, Victor. He was an easy puppy to train and very obedient. The only delicacy puppy-Victor liked to chew was my eye frames. First the black onyx ones, second the brushed nickel, and last, my favorite apricot frames. I decided I would not buy frames again until Victor grew out of this “chewing phase.”

That was nine years ago. Nine years of squinting into the distance and nine years of not being able to read things further than fifteen feet away.

This past year, my eyesight has become worse. I nearly close my right eye to see clearly. The lights of the city from a friend’s balcony, or the lights of New Jersey on the Hudson, are foggy and muted, like a starlet in close up with a lens slick with Vaseline. Street signs are blurry half a block away. Forget about reading the specials board in a dimly lit restaurant!

*    *    *    *    *   

I went to a dermatologist. Not for my eyes (that would be silly), but to help with a telltale sign of aging that I have ignored -- fine lines and wrinkles deepening like little grand canyons around my eyes. Now I use an expensive glycolic face scrub, firmer, and moisturizer to try to reverse the signs of aging. I also learned that what I thought were warts on my left hand were actually  <ahem> age spots.

Oh dear lord … age spots.

I have to face facts: squinting only enhances those little creases. These wrinkles are making my youthful looks a little more "distinguished" than I like at the tender age of forty-three.

*     *     *     *    *

So … off to the eye doctor I go. Not for my wrinkles (that would be silly), but to get my eyes checked. The whole experience was painless, unlike the dentist. Two puffs of air in each eye, a stare at a light and a look in all directions, a read of the letters on the chart.

A what of the what? Read the letters? Ummmm....

That’s where it fell apart. I couldn’t read them. I chose “one” over “two,” “four” over “three,” and sometimes found "they are very similar," until I could read those damn letters. I had my pupils dilated and was pleased to hear that there are no signs of glaucoma, cancer, heart disease, or anything else that <ahem > “men of my age” start to experience.

My eye doctor recommended that I get progressive lenses. You know, the modern term for bi-focals. I cringed.

                      “Why does that make me feel old?”

                       “Well, you are at that age.”

Again, with the “me-at-an-age-where-aging-is-becoming-apparent-and-unable-to-be-ignored” phrases! Sheesh! I already know I have Madonna’s hands sticking out of my sleeves, but now fine lines and wrinkles, age spots, and bi-focals. Crap. When’s the hip replacement?

I picked out frames. One pair is a moderately chunky, classically-modern frame with progressive and transitions lenses; and one pair is prescription sunglasses with progressive lenses, so I can sit in the park, read the paper, and watch hot joggers in the distance without changing frames or squinting.
Both were measured and ordered.

I put on my old, non-prescription sunglasses and walked home. My dilated eyes made it hard to see. Since I was feeling old, I decided to treat myself to something special (as if two pair of frames and taking care of my eyes wasn’t treat enough). My treat was one that reminded me of youth, and was necessary since I just confronted many aspects of being “a man of a certain age” -- I went to McDonald's.

When I was little, my mom used McDonald's as a reward for doing something beneficial. For example, there’d be a list of books to read during summer vacation on the refrigerator. After checking them all off, she’d take me to McDonald's. I can’t remember how many books had to be read, but I remember reading like a madman for a Happy Meal.

So, it was natural to feign an attempt at youth by treating myself for having a “great checkup!” My age‑spotted hands clutched the warm and fragrant bag as I walked home with my blurred vision. I tried not to squint to keep the fine lines and wrinkles at bay.

Once home, I looked in the mirror. My pupils were huge! I could barely see the beautiful hazel that normally fills the center of my eyeball. If I put on a sad face and whined, I looked like a puppy who just wanted a petting. And if I really tried, I could look like a Keene painting. A little pout, a little innocence, a little haunting, a velvet background and there it was. A freakish Keene painting in the flesh.

*     *     *     *     *

That was a week ago and now, with my new frames firmly on the bridge of my nose, I now see what I have been missing. I no longer need to squint to read street signs. I can see further than half a block. There are no halos around streetlights, car lights, or traffic lights. I can see the lights across the Hudson. The stars are clearer. I can read menu boards. I can see a movie without squinting. I can read a Playbill and watch a show without changing frames. I can read the paper and watch hot joggers without craning or half-closing my eyes to get them into focus. It's an amazing new perspective!

I wonder if these new spectacles will also give me a new perspective on life. Will I see clearly now (especially since the rain is gone)? Will they provide clarity where once there was indecision? Will they provide vision where only blind attempts existed? Or … will I just see my age spots more clearly?

And, while I may be “a man of a certain age”, my frame choices do compliment my classically-modern life and my classically-modern taste. They make my distinguished looks a little more distinguished and I like it.

Now let’s see how well they work on reducing fine lines and wrinkles.

At my desk ... writing away ...


  1. This makes me feel so much better about the progressives (as i progressively degenerating!) glasses I just got.

    The worst part of glasses: trying to find a pair that looks good while NOT WEARING GLASSES!!

    I hope my new glasses look cute. (and i hope you'll post a pic of you looking cute in your new glasses!

    1. they take a bit of time to get used to . i am still not used to them , but i love being able to see !

      i have always heard that one shouldn't pick out frames alone . well , i did . i think i did pretty well (see the picture that i just posted) .

    2. thanks for sharing the pic. It's always good to see your face! I think those glasses were a good choice with your darker hair.

  2. (From Kendal, not Pete who's picture comes up with our Google account!) First of all, you look fabulous. No one can stop the fact that we age every day, but if we can look as good as you while we are doing it, then, I suppose we have some sort of victory! As you know, I have always been a "special needs person", ie, near blind. I wore glasses or contacts, whatever felt right or was the most convenient at the moment. I finally got Lasik about 10 years ago. The first thing that I thought, after looking in the mirror was, "Holy Cow. My thighs are really THAT big?!?!" No beautiful sunsets, glistening puppy noses: just thunder thighs!

    1. those "fabulous" pictures were ancient ones , but i did post a picture of my new frames a few minutes ago . not too shabby at middle age ...