Want to see frustration? Get reading glasses

April 11, 2005|By KEVIN COWHERD

THERE COMES a time in life when you suddenly realize you can't read anything without holding it three feet in front of you and squinting so hard the blood vessels in your eyeballs might burst.

At this point, you go to an ophthalmologist, who goes through the charade of examining your eyes, having you peer at eye charts, etc.

After a few minutes, the doctor yawns and says: "You need reading glasses. Now get out. See the receptionist if there's a co-pay."

From then on, your life is basically over.

Oh, I don't mean death is imminent.

No, you don't get off that easy.

Long before you're allowed to die in this country, you have to endure years and years of constantly misplacing your reading glasses and trying to find them.

This, of course, is the real hell of middle age.

People talk about diabetes, heart trouble, sexual dysfunction and so on.

But all that is a day at the beach compared to the psychological ball-and-chain that reading glasses become.

Losing them over and over and over again - this will just drive you nuts.

OK, but maybe we're getting ahead of things here.

Once the doc says your eyes are going, you may end up at one of these vision centers at the mall, or one of these boutique eyeglass shops, where the price of reading glasses will cause you to gasp and the room to spin.

Or you'll get yourself a cheap pair at your local Rite Aid, CVS, Walgreen, whatever.

The upside to going cheap is: 14 bucks vs. $199 or more, you do the math.

The downside is: No matter what glasses you try on, you will look like the Unabomber.

Or, if you're a woman, the Unabomber's female accomplice.

There is, I'm afraid, no getting around this.

No matter how stylish the glasses look on the models pictured in signs on the counter, once you wear the glasses and look in the tiny mirror on top of the rack, staring back at you will be the dorkiest-looking person you ever saw.

In any event, the moment you purchase your first pair of reading glasses, the nightmarish cycle of losing and searching begins.

This is a fact of life.

There's no use trying to fight it.

At least several times a day, if you live with others, you will find yourself running around the house shouting: "Has anyone seen my reading glasses?"

The answer, by the way, will always be no.

Quickly you will discover that no one else cares that you've misplaced your reading glasses.

This is the cold, harsh reality of the whole thing.

In fact, the people you live with will quickly become annoyed with your new disability, and after hearing you whine about losing your glasses, will take to snarling: "Stop it! No one has seen your stupid reading glasses!"

Young family members, in particular, tend to show a lack of compassion in this regard.

And God forbid you rest your glasses on your head when not using them, as I do, then forget they're there. Because these little brats, they will be absolutely vicious.

They'll let you root about for the glasses for several minutes, then explode in hysterical laughter and shout: "They're right on top of your head!"

At some point, when the vicious cycle of losing and searching, losing and searching, losing and searching becomes too much, when it starts to beat you down and drain the joy from your life, you may be tempted to purchase a chain for your reading glasses and wear them around your neck.

If you're a woman, this will automatically make you look like a court stenographer during a break in a trial.

If you're a man, it will make you look like a college bio-chem professor who has momentarily stepped away from the blackboard.

If you don't mind looking like a court stenographer or a college bio-chem professor, fine, go with it.

Look, I am certainly not going to sit here and judge you. I have my own problems with aging and image and so forth, which we can get into some other time.

One way to get around this perpetual lose-search cycle is to buy extra pairs of reading glasses and stash them all over the house, or the office, or wherever you tend to lose them and go thermo-nuclear.

Yes, this can get expensive.

But it tends to cut down on all the raging and stomping, and I highly recommend it, seeing as how you will be misplacing your glasses for many years to come.

Oh, yes, this is really something to look forward to.

I am just as psyched as you are.

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