I won’t mention any names, but someone I’m married to has been known to misplace his glasses occasionally. I used be smug about this. I wore glasses or contacts since I was a child and I never misplaced them. That’s because I never took them off.
At my first childhood eye exam, I couldn’t read the Big E at the top of the eye chart without correction. You don’t take off your eyewear when your vision is like mine used to be–except to shower. But now, thanks to the miracle of laser eye surgery, I scoff at the Big E, though I’m a little dismayed about how the inside of my shower looks.
After the surgery, I became even more self-righteous when my husband misplaced his glasses. I didn’t need glasses at all anymore, except sunglasses. And, I kept it to myself when I misplaced those, which now that I think about it, was fairly often.
But the doctor had warned me that even laser surgery couldn’t stop presbyopia, the clinical name for the eyes losing the ability to focus. It’s the price we pay for surviving to middle age. (Just a portion of the price, as it turns out.)
Either he was right, or they’re making phone book print smaller. And the 60 watt bulbs I use in my lamp aren’t as bright as 60 watt bulbs used to be. And I can’t read the menu when I go out for a candlelight dinner with my husband. Had I not been so smug every time he misplaced his glasses over the years, I could ask him to read it to me. Instead I order the special a lot more.
But the special isn’t so special sometimes. So I finally invested in reading glasses with that same resignation you feel when you buy your first pair of pants with an elastic waistband–not that I’ve done that yet. And as one who once lived in glasses, I can say the best thing about reading glasses is that I don’t need them all the time. And the worst thing about reading glasses is that I don’t need them all the time. If I needed them all the time, I would never put them down. And if I never put them down, I would never lose them.
What follows is a dramatization of how presbyopia could cure smugness–even as it destroys productivity. Let’s say I have a headache from reading on the couch by a lamp that isn’t as bright as it used to be. I curse myself for not using my reading glasses and go to the medicine cabinet for a pain reliever. I need readers to make out the dosage, but I’m thankful–and a little smug–that I still don’t need them often.
Several days later, I go to make a phone call. After looking beside each of our five telephones, under our couch, and behind the hamster cage, I find a phone book. Unfortunately, I can’t read it. I have no idea where my glasses are and I can’t bring myself to ask my husband if he’s seen them. So I ransack my office. I dig under the couch cushions. And I check by the lamp that isn’t as bright as it used to be.
Finally I give up and ask my son with the 14-year-old eyes to read the number for me. The whole episode has given me a headache, so I go to the medicine cabinet for a pain reliever, and what do you know! There are my reading glasses. This is lucky because I can’t read the dosage without them. One would think I’d remember, but apparently my vision isn’t the only thing going.
There are three possible solutions to my problem. I could put a pair of reading glasses in every room where I typically use them. I could hang a pair around my neck. Or I could admit to my husband that I too am having trouble misplacing glasses and enlist his help.
I put a pair in each room.