F-ing Bifocals


The little red farmhouse  in the distance faded in and out of focus. I looked straight ahead as instructed, wondering how long the wait would be once this bit of the appointment was finished. Vision check-ups have been notoriously long in the past, with lots of waiting in between each part of the process. Sitting in the quiet of the doctor’s office, after a noisy spell in the waiting room, I felt at ease and relaxed.

She put a different test in front of me, words written on a piece of paper and held up close to my face. An adjustment was made: “Better here… [pause] Or here?” I chose the latter. Again. “Better here… or here?” I chose the former. And that apparently made all the difference.

The doctor rolled her chair back to her desk and scribbled a few notes down.

“I’m going to recommend that you try bifocals,” she began. I looked around to see if there was someone else in the room to whom she was talking. “Around the age of forty, most people start to…” and it was there that I zoned out. Who the fuck was around the age of forty? Oh my God, she’s talking about me. I need fucking bifocals. I’m almost forty.

I looked at her again. Words like “line-less” and “bifocal contacts” were being uttered. Her hair was straight and shiny, and her initial ennui with the day had slowly transformed to genuine concern and engagement. I noticed then that she must have been in her early thirties. She was younger than me. The older I get, the more people seem to be younger than me.

There are some things I can take about the aging process. I don’t mind the growing battalion of gray hairs that have sprinkled the side of my head with more salt than pepper. I don’t mind the little spare tire that’s lassoed itself around my waist despite my disinvitation. I don’t even mind curbing the fried foods that make my stomach hurt the next morning. But bifocals? How far away is a cane? What’s next, a coffin?

“I’m sorry,” I stammered, “But I wouldn’t even know how to use bifocals.” She gave a small patient smile and ensued an explanation which I promptly ignored. She wasn’t hearing me. I may have gone blind, but she was clearly deaf. I returned the smile and went back into the waiting area to select the frames that would hold my new fucking bifocals.

[Incidentally, Andy had his first eye-exam in two decades a day before I had mine. He doesn't need bifocals.]

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