Let us go back to my occasional, that is to say, recurrent, dreams of driving a car that is out of control. You know what I mean. The brake goes to the floor with no effect, while the hill gets steeper, etc. This propels a certain amount of my current internal worry. The notion of setting off on some minor road excursion and finding myself in a whole heap of trouble. Case in point, the San Francisco fundraiser on Thursday that involves going to some high-rise on Market Street, where the parking is underground, and so are the fears. First, that I will get stuck either going in or out of the parking structure. Unable to reach the little plastic ticket that emerges on the way in or unable to insert it in its appropriate slot on the way out. Disaster, either way. Stuck en route like the Flying Dutchman. Or Charlie on the MTA. A minor nightmare, in other words.
Of course, there is so much to worry about, and the annual eye appointment provides another rich set of opportunities. Consider the possibilities, from macular degeneration to retinal thingamajig. There’s a long list. However, it must be noted, being married to Jane, this year I come armed with the Episcopalians. At least with their health plans, vis-à-vis, VisionMed. And a good thing it is, too. Rolling on the door I almost tell them this, that if they fuck with me, they are going to hear directly from the Archbishop. I have his mobile number in Canterbury, I want to add.
Though none of this is necessary. For the nice Jewish optometrist and I hit it off quite pleasantly, and I am out of my wheelchair and into the eye chair faster than you can shake a lens. Which is more or less what she does, this eye woman. Turning my glasses this way, tilting them that way. Actually, this hands-on personal examination of my current optics reassures me. It’s not all about machines, only mostly.
I am thinking of the stations of the cross, which I don’t know too much about, but I am with the Episcopalians at this moment, and they are treating my eyes just fine. The next station is the shine-the-bright-light-in-the-eyes machine. I like this particular one. Its predecessor, the one where you look at this, then that, and is this sharper or fuzzier, that machine produced a certain amount of neck strain. Of which I don’t need anymore, thank you very much. My neck having been severely strained by a 22 caliber bullet, no longer bends the way I would like. Not to worry, for this particular machine is handheld. Just sit back and let the optometrist flood your eyeball with enough photons to make you forget everything.
And I have forgotten everything, particularly the fear that I didn’t fear. Where everything has gone swimmingly in the automotive department. The drive from Menlo Park, barely one mile, went without a hitch. True, I did have to make a left turn. But that worked out just splendidly. In fact, damned if I didn’t hurl myself ahead of some oncoming cars with devil-may-care abandon. Want to see a left turn, fuckers? Watch this. And in a thrice, I was parked right in front of the optician’s. And while I am still remembering this, I am forgetting the more obvious and essential part of an eye exam. The drops.
Oy. Here they come. And the usual light show ensues. Dilation. Jane, who has always been very light-sensitive, may see the world somewhat like this. Even the fluorescent fixtures above are burning like miniature suns. Meanwhile, we have progressed to another machine, and this one is taking alleged pictures of my eyeball. The latter, by the way, has enlarged enough to see way beyond the visible light spectrum. Stopping briefly at the front desk, I pick up my new lens prescription, which has not changed at all in the last year, and glance briefly through the plateglass windows. A big mistake. The parking lot is burning like the fires of hell. The optometrist’s assistant fits some temporary dark film around my eyes, then positions my glasses on top. I say goodbye and roll into the solar Inferno.
Surely I could have anticipated this. Didn’t I have one of these eye exams only one year ago? Well, yes, and no. A year ago I wasn’t driving, was I? A year ago I had my eyes examined in downtown Menlo Park. I rolled home in my wheelchair, optics be damned. Now, here I am, equipped with a new vehicle and all worried about driving. What to do? Well, I test the reality. Which takes me to the CVS pharmacy across the parking lot. I buy some nasal spray. Did I mention the cold? It has dominated my life for the last several days, but now I have other neurotic fish to fry.
Back across the parking lot to get a cappuccino, naturally. All this has taken time, and that is a good thing, the eyedrops being what they are. But also a bad thing, reminding me that I don’t like wasting time. And hanging around Town & Country shopping center is just that. So what is there to do but roll into the van, close the doors and peer through the windshield? There’s the sun, the actual sun, to my left. Fold down the visor, reverse out of the parking space and into the future. Avoid turning left, of course. That way lies madness.