Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Sunday Memory Drawer - You Need Glasses

This rather faded photo from my dad's Argus Technicolor camera features yours truly at the age of 5 and I make no apologies for the sweater.  Back in those days, all of our mothers dressed us.

You will note that, even at this tender age, I am sporting some specs.  They likely helped me to see better just how hideous my wardrobe was on this night, which must have been one of my parents' famous basement soirees.  Given the hat, it was probably New Year's Eve.  Maybe even the first year I got to stay up till midnight.  The next morning, I was bleary-eyed.

With or without the dorky glasses.

As long as I can remember, I would be wearing some contraption on the bridge of my nose.  At a very early age, it was determined that vision in one eye really sucked.  These days, parents would simply bring their kid for some Lasix procedure and voila...instant vision.  In the olden days, my folks needed to understand what was behind this problem.

And make sure it wasn't the result of a brain tumor.  Talk about your scare tactics.

So, I was dragged, kicking and screaming to a myriad of eye specialists.  First in Westchester, New York and then down to the really smart and expensive doctors in Manhattan.  Each and every one of these guys tortured me with the ultimate injustice.


I can't stand them to this day. But, when I was four or five, it was the equivalent of waterboarding.  I would never hold still and it sometimes took the physician a half hour to get them in.  Ultimately, it would be a three person project.  A nurse and my mother holding me down while the villain wearing the microscope over his head came at me with his deadly weapon.

Screams could be heard all over the eastern seaboard.

I think most of the doctors said that my folks needed to get over this.  But, ever persistent, they pressed on.  Perhaps they would be finally relieved if it was the result of a brain tumor. Once we ran out of eye specialists in our neck of the woods, we ventured into Manhattan where there were more degrees on the walls and more dollars on the invoices.

Now these excursions offered the sweet and sour of life.  I've be subjected to more tests and nonsense from a doctor.  But, as a treat afterwards, my mother would use our proximity to midtown Manhattan and take in a show at Radio City Music Hall.  We would always be accompanied by "Aunt" Edie who was the appointed chaperone whenever anybody from my family needed to venture onto the subway.  Apparently, she knew all the connections perfectly and was a mandatory companion on all such trips.

But, until I got to Rockette-land, I had to endure more probing, testing, x-raying and, of course,.....

....the dreaded drops.  One dosage at a specialist messed me up so much that I got to watch some movie and stage show through a fog that would have even impressed London.  What was the point, folks??

One doctor suggested I wear a patch over the eye.  I did so and managed to walk into anything and everything I came across.  I was in kindergarten and I looked like the bad guy in some James Bond movie.

I remember one trek to a New York hospital.  The room was entirely black.  There was a cold marble slab in the middle.  I might as well have been in a morgue.  They ran some machine over me that looked like a Transformer that broke down during the filming of the last movie.  It was freezing.  I was scared.  I started to wail.  

No Rockette would be able to calm me on this date.

Luckily, my parents finally improved their own vision of the whole fracas.   Thanks to Dr. Robert Day, a man who put an end to the torture.  With two sentences.

"He'll be fine.  So what if he needs glasses?"

Bingo, I had a winner.  And, for the next sixteen years, the sum total of eye exams I had were done annually every January with a quick trip down to Dr. Day's offices on East 68th Street.  Eventually, I could do it myself.  No chaperone.  No "Aunt" Edie.  And I would pop over to Radio City Music Hall all by myself.

Of course, there was the prospect of wearing glasses.  And, when the choice was left up to Mom, she always picked the worst kind of frame.

I'd look like Wally Cox.

I'd look like Steve Allen.

One pair was beige.  I looked like Steve's wife, Jayne Meadows.

By the time I got into high school and gave a crap over how I looked on a daily basis, I wrested control over the eyeglass selection.  And always try to get a pair that I would see somebody wearing on my favorite TV show.

I got smart over time.  This needn't be a hindrance to my life.  I'd get photogray lenses that would become sunglasses if you were outside long enough.  I'd try to be hip and I would endeavor to change my look every two years.

Now, I've got multiple pairs.  One for reading fine print (yeah, it's come to that).  One that is exclusively sunglasses for driving (mandatory in California).  And, most recently, I finally ditched the wire frames which made me look like a pharmacist.  I went for a younger look and one person told me that I "finally look like a writer."

Okay, that's a winner.

And, whenever I go for my annual exam, I even manage to endure the drops without tears.

Okay, maybe, there are still a few.

Dinner last night:  BBQ Pork Egg Foo Young from First Szechwan Wok.


Anonymous said...

Brain tumor treated with eye drops. Yes, I see how that would work. how are you today with taking eye drops?

Anonymous said...

Interesting phobias - eye drops and theater curtains.