Friday, 8 November 2013
I've not had an eye test for over 20 years. The last one being at primary school, when I did the obligatory spot the numbers in the coloured dots to check I wasn't colour blind.
Going to the opticians was an ordeal. I am not actually having problems seeing stuff - everything (luckily, considering my family optical history) is actually very crisp and clear. The optician asked me what the problem was.
"I keep feeling sort of dizzy."
"Right. I see. Does this happen ever when you're driving?"
"But I am a safe driver, I'm not like passing out or anything. I can still control the vehicle." (I imagine him reaching under the desk for his traffic police emergency button. I imagine getting back to my car to find it has been clamped and a law enforcer enforcing my keys from my sweaty, panic stricken hand.)
"It also sometimes happens when I am standing too near to someone when I'm talking, it makes me feel like I have to look away, like I might fall over if I don't." (I imagine the law enforcer standing too close as he requisitions my keys and me keeling over onto the tarmac.) I gulp nervously. I think I might cry.
He asks me to look through the goggle box testing machine thing and checks me with a series of different images. He asks me which is clearer, slide A or slide B. He talks in such a gentle, patient way that I feel bad that both slides both look pretty much the same and I'm so desperate to please him that I make up some of my answers.
He shows me pictures of my eyeballs. I pretend to be impressed, although TBH they look pretty gross that close up. He tells me I am a tiny bit longsighted and therefore can legitimately enter the great world of speccy-four-eyeness (my words, not his) I am not sure how I feel about this.
I find myself in the glasses showroom with a lady who is responsible for helping me choose my glasses. I stand there indecisively while she tries to peddle me a pair from the most expensive range. I steer us towards the value collection. I think about all my friends who wear glasses, who, without exception, look totally rad in their spectacles. I try on one pair after another and look like a bit of a tit.
"What about those ones?" I point at some rectangular dark framed ones. "I read somewhere that you are supposed to pick the shape that is least like your actual head shape."
The woman looks at me dubiously. What the hell do you know about it, glasses virgin, her twinkly blue eyes say. I giggle like the virgin that I am. We try every pair on in the rack.
"I'm sorry, I'm taking up all your time," I mutter after a couple of minutes. "I'm normally very decisive." She says it's fine. Really. I wish she would go away and let me embarrass myself alone in the privacy of the open shop window. We try on some more. I start getting dizzy, despite the lenses being clear and neutral.
"Perhaps you'd like to come back with a friend," she suggests. I think about ringing my lovely husband, himself a cool classically-trained glasses wearerer. But then feel a mother-induced feminist stab of guilt that I should just be able to Do It by myself.
"What about those?" I reach for the NHS old-lady-chic glasses on the top rack.
"I don't think so, no," says the woman, slapping my hand away.
I give in and settle for the ones she tells me look best. I am not sure. It might be because one of my ears is higher than the other, so I will always look a bit cockeyed in them anyway.
I giggle awkwardly when I go back a few days later to collect them. "We've never seen someone so excited to collect their glasses," says the sales assistant. I ask her what I'm supposed to do with them.
"Wear them, honey."
"I mean, when... Do I wear them like, now? Like, to go home in?" I remember being a little girl at Startrite getting patent shoes for the first time not sure whether to keep them in the box or put them on.
"If you like, but really they're only for when you're eyes are tired. Or if you're driving"
I drive home with the glasses in my bag. I'm afraid to put them on in case I crash. The dark rim in my periphery gives me two massive blind spots... and I am worried motorists will be distracted by the odd woman in wonky glasses coming towards them and side swipe me.
I have worn my glasses a little since. Although my mother advises me not to wear them as I'll develop lazy eyes. But there is something in 'putting on your glasses'; a bit like putting on a hat for a specific task that I quite enjoy doing in private.
I would add though, they don't seem to have done much to ease the dizziness.