Consumer Dissatisfaction, or, I Can’t See This

I paid the credit card bill for these eyeglasses about ten days ago.



I swear it gets worse with time. First, back in 1997, I had to wrestle an optician to the mat, because she couldn’t believe that my haywire vision involved anything but “unfamiliarity with polycarbonate.” (For those who are lucky enough to have good vision, polycarbonate lenses allow you to have bottle-bottom correction without bottle-bottom glasses. Myopes like me know all about it.) No, it was the corneal dystrophy, a quaint affliction that gives you a fly-eye multiplex panorama of, say,  three stop lights or freeway signs overlaid on one another.

So I think I have the optometrist trained to leave out my astigmatism prescription (because on a given day it can make the corneal dystrophy twice as bad), and I buy a pair of giant sunglass frames that the optician swears are pure titanium (“why again do you need such durable frames?”, she said, petite and sedentary, unacquainted with hurtles off of glute-ham benches or Batwoman dangles from Smith machines).

And I take these fucking glasses home and treat them like newborn guppies since, aha!, I can actually read through the bottoms of them even though now the computer screen looks like a dog’s dinner, you can’t win them all, and then what do you know, I get out of the shower, open out the left bow, open out the right bow, it bends upward in my hand like an overboiled piece of capellini, I bend it down thinking WTF is it hinged like that?, and off it comes in my hand, not unscrewed at the hinge but parted in the metal, like a paper clip that’s been at the mercy of someone with bad OCD.

There ensued a characteristic farce in which Your Narrator, destitute of attire, groped her way wet and dripping to the dresser drawer containing about seven past pairs of glasses, dating all the way back to the real-glass days (a half-inch thick at the edges, with yellowing nosepads), and rummaged through them trying to find one that sort of worked, so that she could grab the phone and leave a semi-hysterical message on the after-hours machine at the optical practice. It brought back memories. Once, long before the days of cell phones that would have solved the problem lickety-split, I got out of the shower to find that another member of the household I lived in at that time had taken my glasses by mistake and left behind a completely useless pair of weak-tea reading glasses. Blind is bad enough; blind and naked makes you feel like a mole rat. Blind, naked and wondering where your glasses are in the metropolitan area… well, I think the phrase is done for the day.

So today they called me to say they couldn’t replace the broken frame, discontinued by manufacturer (wonder why?), and could I come out to look at some options? The optician measured the refraction in the old lenses that are better than my new ones (except for reading), exhibited some nifty frames that could be special-ordered in my size and preferred colors, and said she’d call when they came in so I could try them on and choose. That will be trip number four, and they’ll still have the lenses to grind. This is the part I hate most about being half-blind: not the expense, only occasionally the paralyzing panic (“my god, without modern technology I would have to tap my way around with a red cane”); it’s the unending fuckery.

If I am very very good in this life maybe in the next I will not be necessarily rich or blessed, just 20/20.

I Can See The Light

lightWay too much of it, actually. I have just made the Year’s Most Dangerous Drive, to wit, the three miles straight down a suburban two lane road from my opthalmologist’s after having gotten the annual hit of belladonna for the ocular inspection.

The bit of corneal dystrophy I have got inclines me to slight dazzle anyway; I’ve become an aficionado of wraparound sunglasses since it became symptomatic. Throw some pupil-dilating drops in, and every reflective surface or unshaded window acquires an almost palpable fulgurous aura. This is light that doesn’t just reach your eyes — it reaches into them and feels like it’s forking out whole helpings of vitreous humor.

But my refraction is neither worse nor better, meaning I am in the same fix I have been in since I was about four years old, if not younger: to wit, without glasses I need to hold things up to my nose and I can’t recognize you at a conversational distance. Since I got to bifocal age my “reading prescription” has amounted to correction at the statutory limit for nearsighted legal blindness. Opticians get wrapped around the axle trying to sort it out.

I get a huge laugh out of this, actually. My contemporaries in their multitudes are whining or uttering humorous self-deprecations, according to temperament, about how “it’s hell getting older” and “all of a sudden you can’t see anything.” Snort! Snicker! Age doesn’t make glassesany damn difference to me, bucko, I’m the kid who couldn’t see the fucking blackboard in first grade. Does anyone remember back to the days when a thick eyeglass lens was, well, thick, a half inch of lead crystal whose matte-finished edges protruded fore and aft from any frame ever made?  And slid down your nose slowly and statelily, especially in hot weather, so that you acquired a permanent tic from shoving the glasses back into place? Do we remember when the plastic frames were brittle and the metal frames bent and when some asshole hit you in the back of the head with a dodgeball or volleyball — which is the kind of thing kids all love to do — they flew off and you had to crawl around on your hands and knees to find them? (It’s a good thing that I started out with a native attraction for physical exertion; I could either climb trees to get away from the little bastards that were my contemporaries, or beat the daylights out of them, and I tried both, turn about.)

Nowadays they have featherlight durable frames and polycarbonate lenses that bend light with half the thickness required of glass, and sometimes I can actually forget that I’m blind as a senile raccoon on a three-day bender.

Hell getting older, my size-nine foot. This deal is improving all the time.