Monday, February 15, 2010

That Vision Thing

This post is a rerun from my other blog, Snideties. I am recycling it because I am swamped this month, which is a good thing since it translates to paying bills. Also, this post is a better fit for Eucalyptus Way. Hope you enjoy it.

As far as I'm concerned, the nature/nurture debate is over. All you have to do is reproduce and try your best to raise your kids. Just as you come to the realization that your children have inherited all your worst traits, you're hit with another epiphany: you're turning into your parents.

My father is quite nearsighted and has always worn glasses. Without them, he has that telltale soft, myopic gaze and is, if not helpless, definitely challenged. He is a physician and health-conscious, with just a touch of hypochondria, so he wears sunglasses – over his glasses. But because he fears that's still not protection enough against those pesky, cataract-inducing UV rays, he adds on little clip-on shades. Every day is a gray day in the land of Dr. Dad.

Then, there's my grandmother. As a girl, I found her spectacles truly annoying. No, not the frames themselves - the daily drama of finding the right specs when she needed them. She would start by asking my grandfather in their native French if he had seen her "glasses to see far" or her "glasses to see close" , depending on which pair had gone missing. Pretty soon, the entire family would be searching the house, the car, the beach or the restaurant for my grandmother's glasses, which somehow always turned out to be in the first place she'd looked, her purse. My mother does not yet need distance glasses (wish I'd gotten that gene). She only wears readers, but she makes up for it by losing them twice as often as her mother did.

Growing up, I found my father's redundant eye wear and my grandmother's daily vision quest incredibly embarrassing. Surely everyone was staring at my eccentric family, thinking "That poor girl. She's related to these people." Of course, I had 20/20 vision, and I wasn't about to hide my best feature behind a pair of shades. Five presidents and a digital revolution away from middle aged lucidity, I didn't know that with maturity comes a blissful lack of concern about looking goofy.

Fast-forward a few decades.

Don't know if it's from staring at a computer screen for a living, but my eyes went south surprisingly fast. Right around my fortieth birthday, the type on paperbacks began to blur. Menus in dimly lit restaurants became illegible unless I squinted like Renee Zellweger and dislocated my arm. I got a pair of cute little red 1.0 reading glasses which quickly became inadequate. Soon, I needed glasses to look at the thermostat, the dosage on the cold medicine, the needle I couldn't thread. Too vain to go full-grandma and get an eyeglass chain, I started wearing my readers like a utilitarian headband.

I had graduated to 2.0 lenses when I noticed an annoying development at the movies: The projectionists were all too lazy to properly focus the image. Tired of reading fuzzy credits, I'd duck out of the theater and bitch to the nearest theater employee. Eventually, I realized it wasn't the projectionist who had the focusing problem. I got my eyes tested and officially graduated to bifocals, which I have never gotten used to. When it came time to change the prescription, I had the optometrist give me regular distance lenses. Now, I switch back and forth, just like grandma did. Sometimes, I too can't find my glasses, which usually turn out to be on my head.

It's when I go on my nature walks that things get really complicated. I need reading glasses for the trail map, sunglasses to protect my peepers and distance glasses to make sure whatever is causing that rustling in the brush isn't a mountain lion. The distance glasses give my vision a tantalizing clarity. I can see every leaf dancing in the breeze. But the glare can be intense, so I've resorted to wearing sunglasses over my distance glasses.

Just like my Poppa does.

No comments: