The Eye Exam

Dear Santa:
I’ve been a bad girl.
I woke up realizing that I had not had an eye exam in 4 years.  I know, I know–I need to take better care of my eyes. And teeth. And varicose veins. And thinning hair.  And a few other things that qualify as TMI.
Wishing to correct my oversight (and add new glasses to my 2012 tax deductions), I flew into an eyeglass box store this morning.
Boy, was I shortsighted! I did not anticipate killing  3 (THREE) hours at the  business for which I had coupons totaling  $7.
First I spent half an hour trying on 400 pairs of frames, aided by a softspoken woman with infinite patience (or, maybe she was on something). Delicately,  and with great tact, she explained why 398 of  the frames were unsuitable, because they clashed with my hair, were too large for my face, didn’t sit right on the thick bridge of my nose, or wouldn’t go with my wardrobe (of black jeans).  Together we narrowed down the choices to 2 frames–one for the everyday trifocals that would  prevent me from walking into walls and confusing my neighbor’s golden retriever with a marmoset; the other, for the many outdoor activities I enjoy, like slurping ice cream, taking out the trash, and picking dog doo from my shoes.
Frames in hand, I waited for a  pre-exam with a pre-doctor. The highlight, as always, was “the little puff of air” he blew onto my fully exposed eyes.
I then waited half an hour for the optician who, during the interview portion of the appointment,  thought it fascinating that I’m a writer and editor. “Not so fascinating,” I said, “when it’s time to pay bills.”
He shared with me his tastes in reading, his desire to write, and the names of several authors who write the old-fashioned way–by putting pen to paper.  I feigned interest for a spell.
I felt like saying: “Take me out for dinner and I’ll tell you everything  you want to know. Toss in dessert–and who knows where this will lead!”
Next, he asked me to identify the circles on a piece of paper he held half an inch from my face.
“Huh?” I saw smudge marks.
He told me not to worry (about my blindness) and finished the exam.
The exam completed, I returned to the glasses lady who measured me, marked my eyeballs with a black marker on dummy glasses, asked me if  I wanted plastic or glass ( middle or top of the line), glare or non-glare, diamonds or emeralds ….
After close to 3 hours (2 of them occurring well past my lunchtime), she went to the laboratory, returned a fortnight later and delivered the coup d’grace: “We don’t have THOSE lenses in stock.”
“Don’t you have some empty Coke bottles lying around?” I asked.
No, says she. “We’ll have to order them FROM OUR HEADQUARTERS IN TEXAS.”
“But what if they secede this week?  How many days will that take?”
Without missing a beat, she replied, “2 weeks!”
“This is a Hannukah joke, right? You ran out of oil?”
Well, Santa. I can pick up my new glasses on Dec. 24. After 3pm.
Right across the street from the mall and all those nutsy last-minute shoppers.
I guess that’s my punishment for misbehaving.
So, I may not make it home in time for your visit. If the cookies are stale, please understand. I’ll be better next year.

6 responses to “The Eye Exam

  1. I’m 46 and haven’t had an eye exam since middle school, although I think my many years at the computer (newspaper columnist) have begun to take their …. wait… Oh, there you are. Anyway, yeah — Not looking forward to that exam. Your story didn’t quell my fears. Did make me laugh, though 🙂

    • Can’t make up this stuff. After waiting 2 weeks for my new glasses, I called Visionworks a few minutes ago. Guess what I was told: “We have one pair. One of the lenses in the second pair wasn’t right. We sent them back to Texas. You should have them in 4-5 days.” (note: I ordered them Dec.10.) My first and last time buying glasses at Visionworks.

      • You see? You’re seeing more clearly already! Seriously, though: sorry about the glasses 😦

      • It ain’t over yet. On Dec. 26 I went to pick up BOTH pairs of glasses. I tried on the sunglasses first. They barely covered my eyeballs and rested on my lower lashes. I looked up. The salesman-technician flinched, as one might on arriving at a particularly grotesque accident scene. “These don’t look right,” he offered. You guessed it … Selected another pair of frames. They are on their way to Texas. With any luck, I’ll have them by Jan. 15. By then, I’ll need another eye exam.

  2. Ned:
    Those years staring at a monitor take their toll. An eye exam is nothing compared to, um, some very uncomfortable invasive tests–and giving birth. So be grateful for small favors!

  3. This is frightening, frustrating and expensive. Worst thing is that even after the perfect exam and new glasses, that are multi-focals and very expensive, I still need a magnifying glass to read the small print on all instructions, from pills, to detergents. Thanks to Beth for keeping the aging process humorous. Always a great laugh is awaiting the reader.

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