Thursday, December 04, 2014

Curmudgeon addresses "the vision thing"

No, this isn't about George H.W. Bush -- or Hillary Clinton -- I'm not political today. This is about glasses....

I wear glasses. So does Long Suffering Spouse. But we wear them... differently.

Like most self-respecting middle-aged men, I have prescription bifocals. I've never quite figured out how to use the bifocal part, though. I can't wear my glasses to read -- and I read fine print for a living. I need the glasses to drive, even if the Illinois Secretary of State has not yet required me to do so, and I wear them more or less religiously now whenever I get behind the wheel. Distance is my problem.

I have one pair of glasses. They are generally on my nose or in their case.

If I recall correctly, Long Suffering Spouse had prescription eyeglasses when she was a kid. She grew out of them. She has no prescription now -- but she wears glasses, too. She wears "cheaters" -- you know, the frames with magnifying lenses you get three-to-a-pack at Walgreen's. Distance is not a problem for my wife. She can count the feathers on a falcon emerging from the cloud deck. But she can't see anything close. Even though the kids ginned up her cellphone so that it shows jumbo letters when she texts, she can't read anything on her phone without first finding her glasses.

My wife must have a dozen pairs of cheaters. There's an unopened three-pack of new frames in our bedroom. Just in case. And there's a pair in the car she drives (so she can correct while she's waiting for someone), and in her classroom, and in her coat pocket. My wife has a pair of glasses squirreled away in darn near every room of the house.

And yet, when her cellphone dings, she can never find any of them. "Where are my glasses?" she will yell, as she fumbles helplessly with her phone. It's not a question; it's an accusation. I believe my wife suspects that I purposely conceal her glasses every time I come across a pair.

Because I have no idea where her glasses are, I will plead ignorance. "'I don't know' is not an acceptable answer," my wife will snap. If I am nearby, she will shove the phone at me. "Here. Read this."

I read the message. Generally, it will be from Older Daughter or Younger Daughter. My wife does not text much with her mother (although Abuela has learned to text, sort of, sending occasional messages to Older Daughter or Younger Daughter AND ALWAYS IN ALL CAPS) but I begin to think that Baby-Boomer-or-younger parents these days do not communicate with their teenage-or-older offspring except by text. At least initially. After a while, if the transcript becomes sufficiently lengthy or involved, someone may actually give in and use their cellphone as a phone.

No, seriously. I've seen it happen.

Anyway, I'll read the message while Long Suffering Spouse scrambles to find a pair of glasses. "They were right here," she will say to herself, but out loud, as she plumbs the depth of the chair cushions or moves everything around on the end table.

Long Suffering Spouse says I'm deaf because I don't always respond when she says something. But I don't always know for sure whether she's talking to herself or me. If I guess wrong -- well, I guess maybe she's right. Maybe I am growing deaf.

Still fumbling for her glasses, Long Suffering Spouse will switch gears from a running commentary about "I used them here this morning" to dictating an answer to the incoming text. If I'm in the same room (and I usually am if I've just read the text to her) I will pick up on the transition. (I'd better.) I key in the message as directed.

This can go on for awhile, with me functioning as reader and writer -- a scribe in the 21st Century -- depending on how long it takes for Long Suffering Spouse to either find the missing glasses or go in search of a pair in the next room. Sometimes three or four pairs will pile up in the dining room. It's a high-traffic area.

I lose my glasses, too, sometimes, but it's usually at work. Later in the week, and especially later in the day later in the week, I'll need to put my glasses on to see the computer screen.

My eyesight is changing: My focal length is getting shorter. Though the computer screen hasn't moved here at the Undisclosed Location, it used to be comfortably on the 'near' side of my vision -- but, now, sometimes, slips into the 'distance' side.

My eye doctor is unconcerned with my trifling complaints. He's a 'big picture' guy, a specialist and a surgeon. He's not peddling new lenses; he wants to know if my glaucoma has finally deteriorated to the point where he must operate to save my remaining vision. (So far, but for one impromptu laser session, I'm a great disappointment to him. I hope to go right on being a disappointment to him until we both retire. At least until then.)

So I'll put on my glasses to see the computer screen, but then I need to refer to a paper in my hand on on the desk. I have to take them off to read from the paper. Maybe, because I'm going from page to screen, I'll lean in closer to the screen while I type. While I'm not looking, I'm pretty sure my glasses burrow beneath another stack of papers or a file jacket. I've not actually seen them doing this; my peripheral vision stinks -- glaucoma, remember? -- but I'm pretty sure that must be what's going on because I can't believe that my glasses could get as far as they do without some means of self-propulsion. (It's not just my glasses. My cordless office phone does this, too.)

Even if I'm wearing my glasses, I will generally take them off to answer the phone. Don't snicker: You probably do it, too. I think almost everyone does. I have no idea why that might be. Even Long Suffering Spouse, who must have her glasses on to answer a text or make a call, will take them off when the connection is made. In that way, I suppose, our vision issues are the same -- but in every other way, they're different. A modern-day Mr. and Mrs. Jack Spratt....