It had been a while since my last eye exam. My prescription eyeglasses were failing me. I did not want to fork out the money for some new fancy eyewear and was stretching out the time. I found that if I turned the three-way lamp to high I could still read.
And then I got some mail telling me I could get a free eye exam every twenty-four months under my insurance plan. Sure, the exam was free, but it did not include the glasses. Oh well, there was always WarbyParker.com—top styles from twenty-four dollars, seventy percent off. All I needed was the prescription. Bingo!
Prepared to outsmart the system, I pulled up the list of providers for the eye exam. I called the only name I recognized on the list; Dr. Plager. I knew his name from some friends who were now glasses-free after getting Lasik surgery from him. Lasik would be nice, but not in my budget at the moment.
I dialed the number. A very pleasant voice answered, “Good afternoon. Barbara speaking, how may I help you?”
“Hi, Barbara! I need an eye exam. How soon can you get me in?”
“Well, I did have a cancellation for 2:30 today but it’s already 2:10.”
“I’ll take it! See you shortly. Getting in the car now!”
“Wait! What’s your name?”
Even with traffic, I burst through the door at precisely 2:25. “Ta-Da!” I shouted to the two ladies behind the reception desk. “I made it. Which one of you is Barbara?”
The two ladies looked at me and then each other and burst out laughing. “Wow, you got here fast. I’m Barbara and this is Sally. She has some paperwork for you.”
As Sally came out from behind the desk with a clipboard and pen her eyes were drawn to my feet. “Nice shoes!”
At which point Barbara got up from her chair and said, “I wanna see the shoes.”
I launched into a model’s pose to show off my sequinned and jeweled sandals. Sally turned to Barbara, “And we thought this was gonna be a boring day.”
As Dr. Bailey conducted my exam, I knew I was doing poorly. I could barely see the top line on the eye chart. I started fearing the worst. Was I going blind? Did I have macular degeneration? Can you go blind from too much Chardonnay?
“Pretty bad, isn’t it?” I asked as Dr. Bailey continued turning the dials on the machine and writing down results in my chart. I was doomed. Maybe I could get a white cane with sequins and jewels.
“Yes, it’s bad…I’ll tell you why in a minute.”
In a minute? I thought. In a minute?! I felt like Westley from Princess Bride, in the iocane powder scene when the Sicilian thinks he’s outsmarted the Dread Pirate Roberts by switching wine goblets to avoid drinking the poisoned one. The Sicilian smirks and laughs out loud. Westley asks why. “I’ll tell you in a minute,” as he cackles just before keeling over dead. Turns out both goblets were poisoned, but Westley had built up an immunity to iocane powder in case an occasion such as this arose.
In my case, I had no immunity. But, I did have good news! Dr. Bailey looked me in the eye (yeah I could still see him), and said, “You have cataracts in both eyes. We can fix that with surgery.”
“Let’s do it!” I cried. “The sooner the better.”
I knew a few people who had undergone this surgery, and according to them it was no big deal and the results were almost instant. The girls up front will schedule you. There’s no point in getting new glasses until we see how the surgery goes.”
When I got to the front desk, it hit me—Wait a minute! Cataracts? That’s for old people. Oh, yeah…after all, I was catching up to Mick Jagger and Cher. I wonder if they have cataracts. Barbara saw my face and read my mind, “Don’t worry, I looked at your chart and I can’t believe you’re that old. If you live long enough, you’re gonna get cataracts. Everybody does. It’s just a matter of time. We’ll fix you up!”
My face brightened. Yay! I lived long enough to get cataracts! What next? Miracle ear?
What did you say? I can’t hear you!