I always guess one or two letters, but decades of reading fine print have made me a pretty fine guesser. And when they ask me to read the same line for the (weaker) left eye that I just read with the right eye -- well, my short term memory isn't completely shot. Not yet.
Today was my visit to the doctor who treats my glaucoma. I'm not his favorite patient. I entirely understand. I've decided how to take my eye drops, never mind the directions, and my vision has been pretty stable for 15 years or so. An eye surgeon can't put his kids through college on routine office visits.
"I've got so many interesting patients this morning," he told me as he walked in. His tone and manner made clear that I was not among these.
"Nice of you to take time out from all that, then, to come see me," I said.
He was a little embarrassed. "You don't want to be interesting," he said, maybe to me, maybe to himself.
"Not really." (Not to doctors, anyway. I still hope to be interesting to blog readers.)
The doctor's assistant had already taken my pressures and made observations of my frayed optic nerves. The doctor did have to sign the new prescription the assistant had written out for him, and he did so, then riffed through the chart indifferently. He turned on the little bright light and held a magnifier in front of his own eye and took his own quick look at my optic nerves. He made a notation on the chart: Stable again, darn it! (I'm reasonably certain that those weren't his exact words although I didn't actually check.)
But that's not why my visit this morning was successful.
I was actually on time -- a few minutes before my scheduled appointment time, in fact. That can happen in the morning, though hardly ever in the afternoon.
So that was good.
Better still, there was a reasonably recent edition of The New Yorker magazine in the waiting room rack.
As a life-long Chicagoan, I am deeply prejudiced against all things New York. But The New Yorker has long been one of my guiltier pleasures, even if I wouldn't let it in my house.
It's not just the cartoons. It strikes me that the long-form articles in magazines like The New Yorker are perfect for a doctor's office. It makes the inevitable delay much easier to tolerate.
I think that I got hooked on The New Yorker when I was a kid -- the magazine was available in the pediatrician's office. It was in the pediatrician's waiting room, in a back issue of The New Yorker, that I read my first Woody Allen essay.
Yes, I was a strange child.
I was so early this morning, and the doctor's other patients so interesting, that I just about finished a feature article on the Egyptian Revolution. I even got to study the pictures that accompanied the article and read all the embedded cartoons. That, I submit, was a successful visit to the eye doctor.
And, because this is a full service blog, I'll even link to a 2010 Woody Allen essay from The New Yorker, "Udder Madness."