I’ve been making spectacles of myself for half a century now

Emmitt B. Feldner • forThe Review

I’m seeing the world through new eyes.

All right, it’s new eyeglasses in front of the same tired old eyes, but at least something’s new.

I recently had my annual eye examination and I’m glad to report that I passed – I still have two eyes, one on each side of my nose where they’re supposed to be.

They still don’t work perfectly, of course, but then again they never did – I’ve been wearing eyeglasses since the third grade, which was back in the days of the Kennedy administration.

I nearly bankrupted my parents with those early eyeglasses.

It’s not that they were terribly expensive – while they’ve gotten thicker over the years, they were never Coke bottle bottoms.

No, I had a bad habit of read - ing in bed at night before I went to sleep, and I’d take my glasses off and stick them underneath my pillow.

I rolled over and snapped them in half more than a few times before dire threats from my nearly-broke father finally broke me of that habit.

A few years later, I was coaching first base in a pickup baseball game when the first baseman missed an errant throw from shortstop that sailed by and struck me smack between my two lenses.

The glasses snapped neatly in half as I fell to the ground, but fortunately I bounced back up no worse for the wear – al - though I couldn’t say the same for the glasses.

Then there was the time in college when I went on a road trip with several friends to an - other college town nearby.

Naturally, this trip wasn’t for purposes of academic or cultural exchange, but to try out the drinking establishments in another locale.

I had a bit too much to drink and paid the price on the way home, leaning my head out the window of the car while driving down the interstate, laying down something other than asphalt along the roadway.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a very good grip on my eyeglasses and they flew off with the rest of what I was leaving behind.

That was not a very pleasant phone call, calling my dad to ask him to get a new pair from the optometrist and send them out to me – not when he asked me what happened to the old pair.

I have managed to stop breaking or losing them as I’ve gotten older.

They never get far away enough from my face for me to lose them.

Since I pretty much have to put them on as soon as I get out of bed in the morning to see my way out the door and I need them to see anything farther away from me than my elbow, I can’t afford to lose them.

It was a few decades ago that I graduated – if that’s the right word – to bifocals.

I’m probably not too far away from trifocals and then quadrifocals - if there is such a thing.

I hadn’t gotten new eyeglasses in probably five or six years and, while what I had still worked well enough, there’s been enough change in my eyes over that time that I figured it was time for a change.

As I said, it was my annual visit to the optometrist – I’m not sure what it means that I’ve probably made more visits over my lifetime to optometrists than to medical doctors.

It was the usual examination, but one of these years when my optometrist asks me which is clearer, “Number one or number two,” I’m going to answer “Number three” just to see if she’s really paying attention.

I did miss one of my favorite parts of the examination when they skipped the color-blindness test.

Every year when they’ve shown me all those numbers in those colorful circles, I’ve added the numbers up in my head as we’ve gone through the book and given the examiner the total when we’re done.

Every year, they’ve come back to let me know I was right – and ask me how I do that.

If they’d done it this year, I was going to tell them it’s time to get a new book, that I’ve done that old arithmetic book already.

I did order my new glasses and they came in this week, so now I’m walking around with a new look on my face – that’s not really all that different than before and certainly no overall improvement, given the face the eyeglasses are on.

I’ll just continue to make sure I don’t stick them under my pillow after I’m done read - ing before I go to sleep – I’ve learned that lesson over the years, at least.

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