(Mike Royko is on vacation. While he is away, we ar repeating some of his favorite columns from the past.)
HE WAS BENT over a sink in the office men's room, poking a finger into his eye and muttering.
I asked him what his problem was.
"The air. Must be a lot of pollution or something. It goofs up my contact lenses."
No, I scoffed, his problem wasn't the air. His problem was the vanity of those who insist on wearing contact lenses because they think it makes them look better and conceals a minor physical flaw.
They can't be like the rest of us normal, well-balanced, weak-eyed people who are not embarrassed about perching regular glasses on our noses.
They are so concerned about their appearance, so lacking in self-confidence, so vain and filled with conceit, that they go to the trouble of sticking a tiny piece of plastic to their eyeballs.
While poking at his eye, he indignantly offered a long, lame explanation about how much better he can see with contacts.
I've heard it before. But there is only one reason to wear them, and it is vanity.
I used to hear the same stuff from the right fielder on my softball team every time we had to stop the game while he crawled around on all fours, looking in the grass for a lens that had somehow leaped from his eyeball.
And I used to hear it from a handball partner, as he crawled on all fours, peering into the cracks between the floorboards.
There is also the golf partner, who in the midst of a game will suddenly clap his hand over an eye or begin poking at the orb with a finger.
That's the most offensive part of it -- when they stick fingers in their own eyes.
Never once in my entire life have I touched either of my own eyeballs. Nor have I permitted anyone to touch them.
And I never will. To touch the eye is against the laws of nature. No creature on Earth wants its eyeball touched.
You can make a test to confirm that statement. Take the nicest, gentlest cat you can find. Or the most docile, tail-wagging, droolingly happy dog.
You can pet them. You can rub their ears. You can ruffle the fur under their necks. You might even be able to get away with pulling their tails.
But just dare to try to touch their eyes. Those friendly little beasts might nip off your finger, as they should.
Or try it with a friend. You can pat a friend's back, put a hand on a friend's shoulder, take a friend by the arm, even pat a friend on the cheek.
But make the test. Go up to any friend, even your best pal, and try to touch his or her eyeball. They will leap away.
And it isn't mere surprise that causes that reaction. Give them warning. Ask your friend, "Would you mind if I touch your eyeball with my finger?"
You do that once or twice and your friends will shun you.
There is also inconvenience. People who wear those things can't just yank off their glasses and toss them on the dresser or under the bed when they go to sleep.
They have to mess around with their eyes to remove them, put them in a miniature cooker, simmer them or whatever they do overnight, then go through the whole thing again in the morning.
And we've all heard the stories about people who awake thirsty during the night and, in reaching for a glass of water on the night stand, accidentally drink their contact lenses.
There is something else they can't do. When provoked in, say, a barroom debate, they can't make the menacing gesture of removing their glasses, putting them on the bar and serving notice that the talking is over. Now there is action.
A person would look pretty foolish saying, "I don't have to put up with your guff," and then begin poking himself in the eye.
Finally, I have long suspected that there is a potential health menace in contact lenses. Eye doctors will deny it. But logic tells me it exists.
The danger is this: What is to prevent those things from sliding off your eye and up behind your forehead and even farther up, into your cranium? What do you do then, when this tiny object is up there in your head, rattling around between your skull and your brain?
Think about that. And be careful about rolling your eyes.