Southern Funnies

“You’re lucky to be alive.”

“What do you mean? How so?”

“You’re lucky that you never ran into a wall, fell down a flight of stairs or into an open manhole. This prescription that the optometrist sent over for you is pretty strong. Your vision looks like its gotten worse. From the looks of things, the doc thinks you’re blind … an accident waiting to happen,” the technician in the optometrist’s office says. Then she hands me a set of gargantuan black horn-rimmed spectacles that could have well been ‘Buddy Holly Originals’.

"I really stepped into it this time."

“Here, let’s try these bifocals. That’s what the doctor says you need…”

“BIFOCALS!? What the …? There must be some mistake … the wrong script. Surely, I can’t need bifocals. Some of my friends even call me ‘Hawkeye’.”

“…must be called ‘Hawkeye’ by your friends, who are blind Mr. Cantrell. Now…do you see that spot over there on the wall?”

“Actually, I still see a whole bunch of spots in front of my eyes.”

“Do those spots have sharp edges or are they blurred?”

“Kinda blurry …”

“Here …look towards my finger. Now that you’re wearing bifocals, you’ll have to point your nose exactly at what you want to see, Mr. Cantrell.”

“Like a hunting dog! …a bird dog!?”

“Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it.”

“The spots are still there. I’m still seeing spots in front of my eyes! That’s why I came in to see the eye doctor in the first place!”

“Relax. Those spots that you see are clearer now, right? They have sharp, well–defined edges don’t they?”

“Yeah, they’re sharper …but …”

“That’s the way it is with bifocals, Mr. Cantrell. Like I said, you have to point your nose directly at what you want to see … otherwise things will look blurry …”

“But …”

“That’ll be three hundred and seventy five dollars.”

“THREE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY FIVE DOLLAHS!! That’s not what …”

“You do want to see everything better, don’t you? We can’t have you falling down any manholes, now can we? It can be fatal, you know.”

“Well, no we can’t, but …”

“Will that be cash, VISA, Mastercard or American Express?”

______________________________

I had a birthday a few days back. I’d tell you which one it was except that I forget the exact number myself. Just know that I’m slightly older than I used be, chronologically anyway. There are people — several of whom live at my house — who continue to express doubts about my overall maturity though. “Are you ever going to grow up?” they shake their heads and ask, usually in another fit of exasperation.

I am what one might refer to as an ‘old tweener’. It’s that weird, funny period between middle age and dotage — too young to officially retire but too long in the tooth to still be taken seriously by The Current Powers That Be. I find that I am in that period of life that is too often, the Age of Irrelevancy in which no one else — but possibly another ‘old tweener’ — who gives one good damn about what you have to say or think. Nevertheless, I have arrived at this point largely in tact–more or less anyway. Of course, there are some individual pieces comprising the sum of my parts that have depreciated in value and don’t always work as well as they did originally.

In addition to my recalcitrant memory, two other sometimes balky body parts are my eyes. To wit: my one and only birthday reward for surviving to be an old tween-ager are a new pair of spectacles — bifocals, in fact. (This instead of the new golf irons that I’ve been lusting after for months.)

You can be sure that bifocals were not at the top of my Gift Wish List … they didn’t even make Honorable Mention. But I was convinced by the optometrist, as well as those people that live at my house (them again!), that it was better to be able see the stuff with which one was about to collide or, as is usually my case, step in.

______________________________

I must admit, the new specs changes my view of the world remarkably. The sky is bluer, women prettier and everything else bigger and closer than it once appeared. There is a new dimension and a new depth to most things that I see. And even on those occasions when I still see those pesky spots in front of my eyes, the spotted pests are in sharper focus.

Seeing what I was missing is almost frightening – like ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ frightening. Who knows what could have happened? “Yep”, I conclude, “I was lucky not to have fallen down a manhole.”

However, while I can see considerably better, I can no longer “watch” very well at all. This business that requires the pointing of one’s now bifocaled nose directly at the object to be viewed negates certain talents and skills honed over a lifetime. This is an especially annoying development when it comes to girl watching.

One might think that an aging tweener would no longer be interested in such foolishness, that he should know better, be more mature. You would be wrong. It’s true: my body has gotten older chronologically, but my mind thinks ‘all of us’ – mind, body and soul – to still be nineteen.

To its maximum effect, girl watching is best done surreptitiously, covertly and out of the corner of one’s eye (using peripheral vision.) The successfully ‘admired from slightly afar’ pretty woman often never even knows she been admired.

As it turns out, pretty women hate nose pointers. “They are too obvious. They lack class, subtlety and savior faire,” a new age pretty woman said to me, recently. I’ve also learned, they especially hate the newbie class of ‘nose-pointers. “When a bevy of pretty women passes by, newbies act like their head is on a swivel,” another one said.

And no matter what her age, race, creed, ethnicity, physical appearance, weight, political persuasion, sexual orientation, or country of national origin, female companions hate newbie nose pointers too. An obvious surveying of the territory (i.e. ‘watching of girls’) — as one is invariably forced to do when first donning bifocals — will often result in a glare, a cussin’ out on the spot or the worst, “Will, when we get home we will have a conversation. What does Miss Thang over there — the one that you were just ogling — have that I don’t?”

_________________________________

Getting new glasses and getting officially older on the same day, also has another effect — if one that is only emblematic. It triggers a reality check of sorts, a ‘taking of stock’,  ‘a coming to terms with one’s limitations’ and a reluctant acceptance of the (new) way things are … and are likely going to be. As for me, I came to accept that some of my very long Bucket List of items may go unaccomplished:

-I will never achieve six-pack abs. (The economy size, one pack will do just fine though.)

-I will likely not get a call from Billy Payne inviting me to play Augusta National.

– I am probably not going to get a late night phone call from Halle Berry’s asking me to sleep over. (I am still willing to make an even swap,  one for the other,  if either Halle or Billy has joined the readership, however.)

Now that I am wearing bifocals, I have also come to the conclusion that being an ‘old tween-ager’ is not easy. Aging takes courage and adjustment — constant adjustments it seems (like learning to point one’s nose at what one wishes to see clearly — or even at all.) Getting older is more than just waking up everyday (although it is a good start).

Lastly, this whole episode has made me realize that I am now and forever more a nose pointer –albeit a reluctant one …

… unless I want to risk falling down an open manhole. Or steppin’ into something.

© Copyright 2011 Will Cantrell

###
Will Cantrell

Will Cantrell

Will Cantrell (a pseudonym) is a writer, storyteller, and explorer of the milieu of everyday life. An aging Baby Boomer, a Georgia Tech grad, and a retired banker, Cantrell regularly chronicles what he swears are 'mostly true'  'everyman' adventures. Of late, he's written about haircuts, computer viruses, Polar Vortexes, identity theft, ketchup, doppelgangers, bifocals, ‘Streetification’, cursive handwriting, planning his own funeral and other gnarly things that caused him to scratch his head in an increasingly more and more crazy-ass world.   As for Will himself, the legend is at an early age he wandered South, got lost, and like most other self-respecting males, was loathe to ask for directions. The best solution, young Will mused, “was just to stay put”. All these years later, he still hasn't found his way but remains  a son of the New South. He was recently sighted somewhere close to I-285, lost, bumfuzzled and mumbling something about “...writing' his way home.” Of course, there are a lot of folks who think that “Cantrell ain't wrapped too tight” but hope that he keeps writing about his adventures as he finds his way back to the main highway.