Optical delusions


A true story…

I have a mild crush for my optician. Don’t worry – the Mem does too. If ever we get around to a threesome she would be near the top of the list. Once I had put my foot down to veto George Clooney.

I suppose it’s inevitable. Here is a woman who is paid to put her hands on my face, gaze into my eyes and tell me that I look good. Usually when she is telling me that the outrageously expensive designer frames really suit my face more than the much cheaper alternatives.

Of course I have no way of telling what I look like in these designer frames. Without my glasses I am as blind as the proverbial bat.

Glassless, I look in the mirror and see a blur. She puts a pair of empty spectacle rims on my nose and asks me what I think. I look in the mirror and still see a blur. Mmmm, yes, um …

Anyhoo, I was changing my spectacles a couple of years ago. She asked me if I would like a light tint.

For the briefest of seconds I didn’t quite catch what she was saying. My ears are as crap as my eyes. It almost sounded as if she was inviting me to participate in some kinky sexual practice. Would I fancy a quickie behind the machine that puffs air into your eyeballs?

Or on top of said machine if I was feeling particularly energetic.

No, no. A light tint. On your new spectacles, you daft old fart. The glasses react to light. They would darken in bright light to give some protection from the sun. The effect would not be as good as sunglasses. Subtle.

She got me at “subtle”. To be perfectly honest, she got me at “hello”, but I think we have already established that. We duly ticked the box marked “light tint”. Along with a few other boxes that I didn’t know were options with spectacles. I half expected to be asked if I wanted to pay extra for metallic paint, alloy wheels and a brace of cup-holders.

A few weeks later my new spectacles arrived. The optician lady did the usual fitting thing, which mostly involves stroking my cheek, looking lovingly at me and telling me how damned fine I was looking. In between tweaking and squeezing the spectacles.

I swear that no woman apart from the Mem gets that close to me other than the dental hygienist. Who, for the record, I don’t fancy. It’s hard to feel sexy when your mouth is full of ironmongery and the dentist is asking you where you are going for your holidays this year. Ngnahnanmn.

The new spectacles are fabulous. They are vari-focals, which is a fancy way of saying that my eyesight is rubbish at both long distance and short distance. If I look through the top of the glasses I can see far away. If I look through the bottom half of the glasses I can see things that are close to. And for anything in the middle distance, I bob my head up and down like a nodding dog as I try to find the sweet spot.

But there’s a problem with this light tint thing. The good news is that it is absolutely fabulous indoors. The glasses turn perfectly clear and with a judicious amount of nodding I can see perfectly well.

Bright sunlight is another matter. It turns out that “subtle tint” means that they turn black. Totally black. We are talking about Tom Cruise’s aviator shades in Top Gun.

And when I walk into a building from outside, they stay black for quite a while. Friends and work colleagues have accused me of making an entrance like a pop star. Godalming’s version of Bono from U2. But with less hair.

About a year ago I was being interviewed outside by a television reporter for my day job. Almost straight away the cameraman starting shaking his head. Something wasn’t right. Those glasses will have to go. Apparently they made me look like a drug runner.

But the crunch point came when I boarded a bus. A young lad took one look at me and promptly offered me his seat. I like to think that he thought I was blind and not “you is well old innit”.

So there I was, back at the opticians. It was time for my two yearly check-up, which inevitably meant that I had to upgrade my spectacles to an even higher weapons-grade level of assistance for my increasingly awful eyesight.

I am sitting opposite you know who.

She asks me that question again.

Would I like a light tint like last time?

Well, what could I say?

“Yes, please.”


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