I went to the eye-doctor recently.
I’ve always kind of hated going to the optometrist/ophthalmologist/oculist/occultist (did you catch that joke there? It’s a doozie!) because I always felt like a spectacle (oh, another one! I’m on a roll!)
(Those jokes were so cheesy that by invocation of the laws of humor blogging I am now required to kill myself like a failed Ninja which I believe involves disembowelment and a lot of bowing. I’m not going to do it though. Mostly because it might make me throw up, and I’m phobic.)
Anyway, going to the eye doctor is always a funny experience for a guy with a blind eye. There’s always some drama. When I was younger, it was annoying. In elementary school, the following conversation took place pretty much any time I interacted with an Eyeball Professional.
Female Eyeball Professional: All right, go ahead cover your left eye and look at the letters on the wall. What can you see?
Me: (reads a bunch of letters)
FEP: Perfect. Now cover your right eye and do the same.
Me: My eye is blind.
FEP (skeptically): That’s okay, sweetie. Go ahead and just give it a try. Tell me what letters you see.
Me: Okay… (covers eye and looks at the screen) I can’t see any letters.
FEP: (Switches screens so the letters are larger) What about now?
Me: …I really can’t see any.
FEP: (Switches to the really huge “E”) All right, try this one.
Me: I can’t see it. I can’t see anything. I can’t even tell where I’m supposed to look.
FEP (as if this is a revelation): Young man, you are blind in that eye!
Every. Single. Year.
I always wanted to say something snarky like “And clearly you are deaf, because I told you I was blind before we started” but I was too nice as a child.
These days when I see an Eyeball Professional, the mood is different. They are riveted by me. Not only do they not need to be “tipped off” that the weird orb in my face looking the wrong direction is blind, but they are more than eager to sit down and take a gander at the sucker.
I’ve finally begun to realize that they are just fascinated by the thing. I mean, it really is a novelty. It’s like a relic from the 80’s–they like to look at just what the surgeons did to me. Where they hacked it open, and what they took out. They find it fascinating.
But that’s okay. It makes me feel special. It makes me feel like a celebrity kind of. A really poor, anonymous, deformed celebrity. Except for then they always want to dilate my eyes even when I don’t need it, and that gets annoying.
Anyway, my latest visit was weird. I went to a new clinic because I had new insurance. So, I was prepping myself for the same routine. “Hi, how are you, nice to meet you… WHOA what the FREAK is that nasty grape doing in your left eye socket and can I study it for the next 30 minutes please?”
I sat waiting in the waiting room, filling out the paperwork, and when the time came, the doctor came out and brought me into the office. He sat me down, looked me straight in the eye and had no reaction.
At first I was kind of relieved. Like, okay, finally I’m treated just like everybody else.
But then I started to feel… miffed. He didn’t care. He didn’t even seem interested. Had he not noticed what he had in his office? Was he too obtuse to realize what he had access to? This eye, sir, has been cited in medical texts of the 1980’s. I was a special case! I was cutting edge! And you just look at me like I’m some random guy off the street with two normal eyes.
I mean seriously, the audacity.
Then he looked over my paperwork and said, “so, are you still teaching middle school?” I hadn’t written anything about teaching middle school on my paperwork. I hadn’t taught middle school for years.
“No…” I replied, looking baffled.
When he saw my confusion, we talked and discovered that I had seen him half a decade before when I taught at the local school district. I had no recollection of this. I was kind of thinking, but didn’t dare to hope, that even though I couldn’t remember him at all, I might be so memorable to him because of you-know-what. That maybe it wasn’t ME he was remembering, but a special eye-condition that he couldn’t get out of his mind…
And then he said it, the thing that let me know that I still had it–that this eye still had swagger.
“So, how’s that eye of yours doing?”
I was flooded with relief. I was special again! I was different. My uniqueness hadn’t been stripped away by some highfaluting “everyone is the same” robot. I sighed deeply.
I didn’t even cringe when he asked the inevitable: “Do you mind if I dilate you so I can get a look inside that left eye again…?”
This guy? He had remembered my situation for years. He had earned access to the inner regions of my cornea. “Have at it,” I said.
And then he had his way with my face for the next 30 minutes, and I just basked in the glory of my atrocious looking congenital defect and the awesomeness it afforded me.
So listen. It may be true that my eye looks a little bit like somebody took a flame-thrower to a marshmallow and then attached it to my face with a hot glue gun, but by golly if it doesn’t have its fringe benefits as well.
Don’t you wish you were deformed and really special and unique like me?