When I was fifteen, I always sat as far back in the classroom as I could. “Out of sight, out of mind”, out of questioning range, was my motto.
The problem, sitting at the back of the room, I was literally “out of sight”. My eyesight was so bad, the blackboard was just a large dark smudge at the front of the room; chalk writing on the board couldn’t even qualify as a squiggle.
I must have been an attractive lad, squinting and firmly gripping the edges of my desk so my hand wouldn’t be interpreted as “raised”. Teachers urged me to sit closer but, never one to participate; I sat as far in back as possible.
Finally, using Gestapo-like tactics, the adults in my life forced me to go to an optometrist where I was fitted with some big black-framed Buddy Holly glasses.
The black plastic frames drew a lot of ridicule, (they were the cheapest the optometrist offered) and I spent the rest of that school year trying to figure out why the name “four eyes” brought guffaws from classmates. I didn’t think it particularly offensive, I just wondered why my piers thought it so clever, especially after many repetitions.
Adjusting to those first glasses was not hard, my vision was so much better; they quickly became an appendage I couldn’t do without.
A few decades later, the same could not be said for the bifocals I had to start using. Until I got the hang of them, I lost the ability to easily see anything below eye level.
What I had to do was learn to look around the “reading pane” of my glasses without bending my neck to the side and down, as a chicken might, looking for food on the ground.
I drove directly from the eye doctor’s office, sporting these first time bifocals, to the downtown Buffalo bus terminal to pick up my son Aaron.
I parked, and immediately tripped over a curb that hadn’t been there a moment before, at least according to what I could see down there around my feet.
Inside the terminal, looking up at the arrivals and departures board was a joy. New glasses, new prescription, clean and scratch free, are always a pleasure. I admit the scratches are my own fault. I often use my spectacles as safety glasses for a quick grinding or sandblasting job.
I was late, according to the arrivals board. My son must be in the terminal already.
He had been away at school for six months and to this day, he is likely to wear anything. He is also prone to doze off, standing or sitting, given a couple of minute’s free time. I cautiously strolled around the terminal, looking sideways and down out of my new glasses so I wouldn’t trip, like a hesitant rooster, checking those patrons seated and trying not to be noticed.
I won’t go into detail about the social faux pas of walking into a public Men’s room, calling loudly “Aaron are you in here?” or the hostile looks I received while standing at a row of urinals, straining to see around my bifocals like a rubber-necked chicken.
As it turned out Aaron’s bus was late, that information wasn’t posted.
I guess the bottom line here is, don’t be too tough on that guy next to you at the urinals, he may not have an overanundance of interest in what you are handeling, down there, he may just have new bifocals..