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Wednesday, Apr. 03, 2002
I don't know how I get myself into these things sometimes. Situations where decisions must be made with great foresight and surgical precision.

Surgical foresight, indeed. Heh. Read on.

Yesterday, at the prodding of the vocal majority, I went for an eye exam. A free one. At a newly built and soothingly decorated tower dedicated to but one thing: The Zapping of One's Eyeballs using Hideously Expensive Ray Gun. Lasers and stuff. Light beams. I half expected Luke Skywalker to greet me at the door and probe my cornea with a handheld gamma ray device.

The purpose, naturally, of granting free eye exams at this place is to determine if you "qualify" for elective laser eye surgery. And to do so they pass you through a series of tests, from one station to the next, each manned by a smiling post-pubescent lass who recently disembarked from a Far East locale. Honestly, are Asians the only ones who are willing to work in the ophthalmology field? Perhaps they are the only ones who are able to keep poker faced while staring into eyeballs and beyond, into the very heart of the gray matter beyond, while giving continuous commands to "Blink!" or "Don't Blink!"

Wonder what it is they see in there….

At any rate. The herding of Outfoxed through a myriad of exam rooms and a series of tests went on for the better part of an hour, accompanied by young Chinese girls every step of the way. "Please to place chin here, look into there. Tilt head back please, I will put drops in eyes. Blink please. Wipe face with Kleenex. Ah, you doing well."

They put enough drops in my eyes to float a small fishing vessel. With pupils dilated and looking, I'm sure, like one of those alien Grey People with black visual orifices and tiny mouths, I staggered into the Room for Cosmic Advertising on the arm of the latest girl, who planted me in a chair and crooned "Now we turn down lights and show you movie!" It would not have surprised me overmuch if a Chinese porn flick had been on the menu but, like I say, it was a free exam. All they showed was a video extolling the virtues of laser surgery, with happy and disgustingly fit Americans frolicking in backyards and reading and driving, all with the eagle-eyed gaze of the enlightened who had joined the ranks of the visually empowered.

At the end of the show, I went careening, half-blind, through the hallways to the Room of Actual Doctor Interview. I don't know who I was expecting at this point, maybe Bruce Lee or Chaing Ki-Shek. It came as a bit of a let down when Dr. Surfer Girl came striding in wearing (I have neither the imagination nor the inventiveness to make this up) surfboots and a long-sleeved-T advertising a local wave riding shoppe. She didn't seem to be in any particular hurry, which laid waste to my immediate theory or mental picture of her having a radical six foot board stashed near the back door for a quick jaunt to the beach and some cut back action.

And in the course of further testing and eye drop activity she paused and sat back and rendered the opinion. "You know, you've got a sort of choice to make, dude. Your right eye is fine (I knew that) and the left eye is not too awful. We can, like, shoot the left eye and you'll be able to get the long distance stuff pretty well. But your reading vision, now, that will be the thing that suffers. Might have to get some reading glasses for that. Tell you what, I'm gonna make you up a quick sample contact lens for the left eye and show you what it will look like after laser. Wear it around and come back tomorrow, we'll see what you think."

Geez, my reading or road signs late at night. This is tough.

Naturally enough, it put me immediately in mind of Corporate Partner Stu, who can sit at the wheel of a car and spontaneously break into a litany of billboards and road signs which are a half mile ahead. "Hey, check it out, there's a sign for Mexican Food with Topless Sombrero-Wearing Chickita's up ahead", which causes me to squint and peer and generally fail to zero in on the sign until it is close enough to slap with an open palm. It probably is the enduring reason for putting me in the navigator's seat, reading the map and warning of impending intersections while Stu breezily spots them from telescopic distances and makes appropriate yet sudden lane maneuvers.

But, this is the same Stu who dons lawyerly looking reading glasses when sitting down with the newspaper. Fumbles with close-up work. Passes all paperwork to me while muttering "Huh. Can't see anything smaller than a cup o' coffee at this range. You do it."

So, choices. Do I want to be able to perch on the stool at the Watering Hole and be able to see the scrolling print on the television overhead? Sit at a concert and be able to determine the brand of shoe worn by the drummer? Sneak furtive glances at the far away boat on the lake and be able to tell what sort of bait the cunning old-timer who always catches his limit is using? Buy a cheap pair of Wal-Mart reading glasses and just get used to the idea that when one is elderly (read, past 40), one should look the part?

Or. Let things stand as they are and continue to scrunch up the face when presented with things at long range. And keep the happy reading ability.

Why, you might ask, don't you just get a set of contacts or glasses for this obviously minor and correctable scenario? Why indeed. Having worn this one contact lens for the past 18 hours I can tell you that it just ain't me, and I fear what might happen when they might be introduced to the dusty world of carpentry and all the face scrabbling agony that a mote of sawdust betwixt lens and eyeball might bring. As for glasses, you need only examine the sunglasses I wear now to figure out that Outfoxed is a world class abuser of things worn on the face. Scratches, bent frames, you name it, I can get maybe four months out of a pair of glasses at best.

Dr. Surfer Girl and I have another rendezvous this morning. At which time I'll have to give her the nod, or not, to pull out her laser gun and shoot titillating beams into my left eye. For the cost of a new laptop, I can once again be the eagle-eyed lad that I probably never was.

I mentioned to Ally that the spending of the money on a new laptop might be a more prudent investment but all I got back were hissing noises and some random, invective, and totally unladylike queries as to the state of my mental well being. So I guess that's out.

Maybe I could opt for a monocle. Colonel Klink and I have so much in common already.

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