Thursday, January 8, 2009

Seeing the Light

When I was 12, I couldn’t wait to grow up. I was thinking in terms of freedom, autonomy, and privilege, not near-sightedness, difficulty hearing, and general creakiness. How little we notice when we’re young!

I first realized I needed glasses when I was driving to the store and saw a small child ahead waiting by the side of the road. I hoped he wouldn’t decide to cross just as I reached him but I needn’t have worried. He was a mailbox.

I related this story to J the other day when we were comparing middle-aged notes. She confessed to having just the opposite problem. “I can tell the difference between a chickadee and a junco at 10 yards,” she said, “but I can’t see what’s right in front of me.” Then she gave me a for-instance.

One day a week, she cleans house for a client. She was waxing the furniture and noticed her dust rag was getting awfully wet. “It just dragged along every surface,” she said. It wasn’t until she went to put the can away that she realized why. She had dusted the entire house with pet repellent spray rather than Pledge. “The cans were the same color,” she explained as I started to laugh.

Things got worse as the week progressed. The very next morning, still sleepy and bleary-eyed, J reached into the cupboard for a packet of hot cocoa mix. She ripped it open, dumped the contents into a cup and added boiling water. The fumes from the instant chili mix made her eyes open right up. Another morning she took a jar of fruit off the shelf. She wondered why it was closed with a metal ring and a sealed lid, but she persisted in opening the jar and spooning the contents into a bowl.

Her first taste showed her her mistake. “You know those pickles you gave me in August?” she asked. I gasped.

“I ate half that jar for breakfast, anyway,” she confessed as I started to hoot.

Her husband came in on the last of our conversation. “You know,” he said to his wife, “I wish you’d take that blue tarp off the clothesline. I don’t know how many times I’ve looked up and waved, thinking it was Pauline coming over to visit.”

I don’t wish for the same things I did when I was 12. Now I just wish I didn’t look so much like a large piece of blue plastic.


Pam said...

So funny.Husbands come out with things that make you do a double-take.Just when you think they've been well trained in the "do I look fat in this" school (what male in his right mind would say yes), they drop a beauty. My friend had spend thousands of dollars on beautiful wooden flooring throughout her entire house and asked what we thought. How hard would "Great" have been. My husband peered and said " didn't notice, sorry -doesn't look much different".Bad eyesight has a lot to answer for.His response to the wife-glare?"well it doesn't"...what!"

Diane said...

Oh my word, that made me laugh like crazy... especially the, "I needn't have worried. He was a mailbox."

I've been nearsighted and worn glasses since the 4th grade (my daughter got hers in the 3rd grade). Though I don't tend to wear them when I read, I've never had difficulty reading with them on... until this past year. I was in a restaurant and realized I couldn't see the menu with my glasses on. Or text on my phone. When I went to the doc, before he even asked what was wrong, he said, "Let me guess. You can't read with your glasses on." I asked how he knew. He said, "Well, you're in your early 40's right?" Sigh.

Thanks for your lovely comment on my last post. It means an awful lot coming from someone who writes for a living (and does it so beautifully!!).

Java said...

I'm so short sighted I only discovered the other day you actually have this blog as well. Oops!! I love it!

Jean said...

Voir la lumière ...
Je comprends mal l'anglais .
Mais je crois avoir deviné un problème de vue .

La vue est si importante !
Voir la LUMIERE l'est encore plus ...

Molly said...

Oh! I'm so relieved that mailbox didn't run out in front of you!

Pauline said...

Pam - lol! Love the "What?"

Diane - I'm at that point again. Time for a new pair of spectacles before I make a spectacle of myself!

AD - a little slow on the uptake? Not to worry - glad you found me!

Jean, mon Français n'est pas bonne non plus. Mes yeux sont préoccupés mais pas tellement que je ne puisse pas voir la lumière. Oui, la lumière est plus importante !

Molly - it was quite a relief (though and embarrassed one) to realize that child was not a child at all!

Brian Hayes said...

I enjoyed the photo reading so earnestly. I remember innocence, devotion, and being oh so earnest.

On the matter of getting up in the morning, there's always ...

Pauline said...

Brian, you just made my day lol. Bacon! What a philosophical cartoon that is - Universal Bacon! I may have to post about it!

meggie said...

Sorry, I burst out laughing at the blue tarp story!
Gom came into my computer room,-minus his glasses- peered at the floor, said "What is that furry thing? Is it a dog?" It was my blue sheepskin slipper!!

Ruth D~ said...