Monday, November 30, 2009

Vanity Bites

It’s that time of life. You pass 40 and all of sudden your arms aren’t long enough for reading. So they tell me.

I made it six years past 40 without a real issue. But after a contact lens prescription change, the printed word started getting fuzzy fast – and I found myself making mistakes at work.

Inconvenience I can deal with. Mistakes are a problem. So I wandered down to the local drugstore to try some reading glasses. I grabbed like, six pairs – one in each strength they stock, I think. They all stunk, one worse than the other.

Now what? If I can’t see to write, my livelihood is going to be in big trouble. (Maybe Starbucks is hiring.)

Let a professional handle it. Back to the eye doctor. He did a full “near point” exam. I even brought the laptop into the exam room to compare bits and bytes to ink on wood pulp.

Simple fix. I need weak readers, 1.0 strength. I told him about my drugstore experience – why did none of them work? He explained that drugstore readers are pretty crappy. They’re made in overseas sweatshops and not necessarily optical quality. Sometimes you get lucky, but it’s hit and miss.

Unwilling to part with $200 at his office for reading specs, I headed back to the drugstore armed with new information. This time I grabbed all the 1.0 pairs. He was right – no two were alike. Caveat emptor.

However, knowing my number I was able to find a pair that kind of works, for the most part.

Of course, the problem with modern-day readers is that they fuzz your far vision, because they are disguised as regular eyeglasses. Why? Baby boomers.

When we were kids and our parents grew old enough to need reading specs, they got those nifty little ‘half lenses’ that perch on the end of the nose. You look over them to see far, through them to see near. An elegant, time-worn, ergonomically correct design.

Try buying a pair of half lenses at the local drugstore. Forget it. Why? The baby boomers still think they’re 18. They’re completely unwilling to admit that they are just as old as their parents were when they started using reading glasses. They live in a fantasy world in which people born between 1946 and 1964 magically, miraculously do not age.

Specs that make you look like a librarian don’t fit with this particular twisted worldview. Have you seen the T-shirt? “I reject your reality and substitute my own?”

Oh well. So I can’t buy a decent pair of readers at the drug store. Neither could our parents – there was no such thing. They had to pony up the dough at the eye doctor. Maybe I should quit complaining.

But I’m not old, I’m a baby boomer! I want it both ways! I deserve it! Besides, I am only 18! Why should I need reading glasses at all?!

This is my reality. The blind leading the vain leading the idealistic.

-Sal, Head Word Guy�

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