Nothing has made me feel like I'm aging more swiftly, than the fact that, recently, I got my first pair of reading glasses.
For a while, I was in denial.
Take the day I was listening to the latest New York Dolls album. I got to liking a particular song, but couldn't remember the lyrics. So, I started to sing them off the lyric sheet. Sure the melody was "End of the Summer." What I sang sounded more like "Le Marseillaise."
I had a few more close calls. I nearly swallowed the wrong pills. (That might've gotten rid of my headache, but would have caused two days of constipation). While at the dentist, I almost read an article in The New York Post. (That probably would have had the same effect).
Soon after, I ended up at Kennedy, when I was looking for LaGuardia. That actually wasn't the scary part. I felt concerned when I didn't remember what I wanted to do once I got there.
I was licked.
I called my optometrist in Harrison and asked for an appointment. He said, "Come on in." He also suggested I hire a driver.
When I got examined two days later, I was able to read every line on the chart, except the two at the bottom. The eye doctor told me I only needed some mild reading glasses. And that I should feel "lucky," considering the last time he gave me a check-up was when "A Flock of Seagulls" ruled the charts.
At first, I felt elated that nothing too terrible had happened to my eyes. But this quickly turned to depression. After all, wasn’t this just the beginning of the end? Soon, it would be glasses all the time, then a pair of Depends...
I trudged out of the optometrist’s office with a sudden urge to cover myself with an afghan, make Bovril and watch “Hazel” reruns on Antenna TV.
A day or so later, I went to the Pelham to get my reading glasses off the rack. I figured what I saved on frames, I could spend on more useful items, like Metamucil.
I tried on a heavy black set. Too Buddy Holly. Then, some dainty gold frames. Too Lauren Holly. Finally, I found the right style and prescription. I knew I needed them, because I couldn’t read the info on the tag, without putting on another identical pair.
Without the glasses, the price looked like $99. With the glasses, an easy $9.99.
On the way home, I stopped off to shop. I took out my list and was able to see what I’d written.
Glasses on, I got my cottage cheese, juice and chips. There was no, "Why did I get plain yogurt and plantains?!" when I unpacked my bags at home.
It’s been a few weeks. I wear my glasses when I read and write. I take them off when I go out walking--just in case there’s a woman out there who might be interested, but doesn’t dig the Poindexter look.
Sometimes, in the afternoon, I compromise. I put on my glasses and watch an episode of “Hazel.” I figure, if I’m going to get old, maybe I can ease into it. That way, just maybe, when it hits me, I’ll be only slightly shaken. But not so much that I get knocked off my feet.
After all, glasses aren’t so bad. Especially, compared with something really heavy, like a fractured hip.