Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Elder Eyes


My glasses broke the other day and I'm having trouble finding a replacement pair that lives up to the standards set by these lovely ones I've had for nine years. Fifteen minutes before I had to leave for work, I picked them up after my shower and, huh? The left ear piece remained on the shelf, like a detatched limb. I didn't have time to grieve them. I had to find the contacts I wear when I want to look pretty.

The last time I wanted to look pretty was Valentine's Day. Will and I had gone to a fancy, highly recommended restaurant for dinner. But they had the weirdest menu. Someone must have spilled wine on the printer. It was obviously drunk. Every letter on the menu was wavy and misshapen.

I looked across the candle at Will. He hadn't mentioned the weird font. He appeared to be actually reading it. Figures. Instead of 20/20 his vision is like 20/15. He definitely has a third eye, I'll attest to that.

"Can you read the menu?" I finally asked after watching him peruse it.

He looked up and smiled. "Yeah, you can't?"

I looked down again. I held the menu closer to my face, an action I was used to taking whenever I'd had trouble seeing. The print got blurrier. I looked up at Will. He was smiling even more.

I extended my arm exaggeratedly and read the menu like bad actors do when they're playing someone old. The print became clearer.

Oh shit. I'm forty.

I couldn't figure it out then. My brain was overworked thinking about what the hell I'm going to do now that I'm forty. But now I know why I couldn't read up-close while wearing my contacts. Because I can't read up close while wearing my glasses either. I've gotten in the habit of looking under my glasses whenever I need to see something close. I didn't even realize it until I wore my contacts to work. I kept lowering my eyeballs like I would if were wearing glasses, but it didn't work. There was no lens to look under. It was stuck to my eye.

I had to break out the magnifying glasses to read someone's driver's license. Yes. I did. I have old eyes. I looked it up on Wikipedia, where any respectable librarian finds answers.

I have Presbyopia, which "comes from the word presbys (πρέσβυς), meaning 'old man' or 'elder', and the Neolatin suffix -opia, meaning 'sightedness', giving rise to the laymen's definition often seen in consumer articles or medical glossaries, 'old eyes'".

Why can't we call them "elder eyes"? Why they gotta focus on the pejorative sounding "old man" definition of the word instead of focusing on the "elder" aspect of it? Elder. Elder sounds strong. Elder sounds wise. Elder sounds respected.

Too bad in our culture as we age we tend to get so myopic about our own beauty and wisdom. We lose our ability to smell the bullshit the media feeds us and succumb to uncritical thinking. We forget that beauty and wisdom resides within ourselves, no matter how many years we've been residents of this planet.

So, instead of feeling embarrassed when I use my outstretched arm to read fine print, I'll proudly show off my elder eyes.