My optometrist is a very odd man. In about his late 50s he joins other para medical practitioners that I think are odd. Dentists, optometrists and chiropractors all seem to be new age, soy latte drinking, wheat free, dairy free, gluten-free, sanity free health nuts who have unconventional remedies and perspectives on illness and that make me deeply suspicious.
Today my optometrist asked me how my health was and as I was in the middle of a disgusting cold/flu that was kindly donated by way of body fluids during the night by my husband (there is no better romance killer than hearing a cough and a sneeze followed by a wet sensation on your back, and no, I am not talking semen).
I really want to say, my eyes hurt just looking at daylight, now I know why Edward Cullen is so perpetually miserable, my joints ache, my chest is chock full of phlegm, I have no idea where my nasal passages are, they seem to have deserted me in my hour of need, I wish I could sleep but my other flu mate is snoring like a freight train and coughing and spluttering all through the night, and my nightie. Just shoot me and put me out of my ugly, snot infested misery. But what I actually say is “I’m okay, just a bit of a cold”.
Then he goes on to ask me about my work and, since I have changed schools, proceeds to go on about how it must be so much better working in a middle class school with parents taking an interest and so on and I just nod politely because I just want a new pair of glasses, since I sat on the last pair and broke off the arm. But he is having none of it. He wants a response.
“It’s hard work” I say, thinking it doesn’t matter which school you’re in, dealing with prepubescent tweens is tactical warfare – balancing fragile self esteems against raging hormones and a sense that the world owes them every gadget known to man, time off when that English assignment is due and to never have to understand fractions because who uses them anyway, coupled with temper tantrums…and swearing…and furniture throwing…and that’s just the damn parents.
He leaves to see if they can get their genius of a technician to fix the arm on my existing glasses. I stare at a three D poster of the eye meticulously detailed with bulging veins and cross sections from every angle. That really is how an eye would look if you happened upon it in the street, minus an owner. Long tendrils once attached to the brain leading from the orb that allows me to love what I see. My gaze shifts as I sit in the brown leather adjustable chair. How I long for him to pluck out one of those lenses concealed in that black leather brief case and say that’s it, but I know I’ll have to endure is this better or this, clearer or the one before, how about this, better or worse and he’ll flick through them so quickly I’ll feel as though I am failing. Failing an optometry test. I’m sorry your eyeballs are just going to have to go back to school and take optic nerves 101.
“Well” he says, reentering the room, which is now dark, and claiming it’s his job to change my focus as it were, to get those two million nerves that supply information to the brain to feel less stressed (look out eyeballs, you may get a reprieve), to make them see that it is not so much “hard work”, so that I can approach my job with renewed, emphatic joy.
“Good luck with that” I say. And that was the door opener. I should have just smiled and nodded. But he went on a tangent about how important it is to love your work and get a good night’s sleep. He books his dreams in advance. His favourite is one where he is hovering above the ground and flying like superman across a beautiful pristine beach and every so often he’ll see a glint in the sand and pick it up. It’s always a gold coin and eventually he sits on the sand sorting through all his gold coins that are from all around the world.
‘That’s a seriously interesting dream” What else could I say?
“Oh yes, I have been having it since I was a boy and I think it means that I will experience riches, not that I am wealthy by any means ( I am about to pay almost $700.00 for glasses so I seriously doubt this last qualification) but of course we won’t starve, I am rich in other ways, ways I may not have imagined as a boy.
Just test me and give me a pair of glasses for fuck’s sake….is not what I said. However eventually he did just that, after he noted I was on antidepressants, and looked up from his paper work to give me that sympathetic stare that says, if only you ate healthily, – beans, lentils and dates are great – drank lots of water and exercised, you would realise it’s all in your head and does not need drug regimes, but of course he wouldn’t say that and my reciprocal stare said back off “doctor” without those little pills my head would have exploded inside an oven by now. My oven is electric so nothing would happen of course but it’s the principal of the thing.
So I pay a deposit on my fabulous new prescription for which my health insurance pays a significantly piddly amount and head home. I pop on my newly fixed old frames, the technician really was a genius as it turns out, and head to the car. The world is clearer, sharper, has more distinct edges. But it’s still winter, I still have a cold and I am already planning to have Monday off. I am also booking a dream for tonight and it involves Brad Pitt and sunshine, lots and lots of sunshine.