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    The Exciting Conclusion of Paul's Stupid Eye Adventure

    As you all remember, my first trip to the opometrist was an unmitigated disaster. I nearly failed the eye exam, forgot everything I should know, and generally made a fool of myself. My biggest tactical error, though, was agreeing to come back in two weeks to pick up my order. Since I had made such an ass out of myself the first time, I thought, returning was going to be humiliating, like Napoleon returning to Waterloo two weeks after his defeat. (Note: Although initial historical research does not demonstrate that Napoleon returned to Waterloo two weeks later, the analogy still stands. Sort of. If Napoleon is anything like me, I'm sure he forgot something there.)

    At the hellish gates of the optometry office, I wiped my clammy hands on my jeans and comforted myself with the thought that they wouldn't really remember me. Optometrist-induced idiocy must be a common problem. Anyway, I probably exaggerated my failures in my own mind. I couldn't have done that bad.

    Braced with these thoughts, and taking a slug of liquid courage from the flask at my hip, I went on into the office.

    Even as the bells over the door jingled, I knew I had been wrong about people not remembering me. The receptionist and the optometrists, who were loitering around smoking cigarettes and playing mumblety-peg, looked up and regarded me with hidden smiles.

    I approached the receptionist. "I'm here to pick up some contacts and stuff," I said.

    "Your name?"

    "P-Paul," I began, but it became very obvious that the receptionist didn't need my name. Even before I began speaking, she reached back to pluck my file off the dart board. Scrawled on the bottom of the file were the words "HE'S THE ONE--DON'T BELIEVE HIS LIES".

    "What kind of glasses are you picking up?" asked the receptionist, a glimmer of amusement twinkling in her half-lidded eyes.

    "I'm picking up contacts... I think... maybe glasses too, if you say so," I conceded, unwilling to call her a liar.

    "No, just contacts. What brand?" she asked, feigning ignorance. "Was it Acuvue? Or Bausch & Lomb?"


    "Ah." With a sphinx-like smile, the receptionist looked down at my chart. "Are you sure it's not Bausch and Lomb?"

    "I, uh... is it?"

    "No, it's Acuvue," she said. "Go talk to that optometrist. He'll give you your contacts."

    "What kind of contacts are you getting?" the optometrist barked as I sat down.

    "B-Bausch & Lomb," I hazarded.

    "But you just told the receptionist it was Acuvue."

    "If you knew, why did you ask?" I snapped. Under the withering glare of the eye doctor, I soon regretted my tiny act of defiance. "I'm sorry. Just give me whatever I ordered."

    "But we can't possibly give you anything until we make sure it's what you want. What's your prescription in your right eye?"

    I took a stab at the last question. "Um... 15?"

    "Hogwash," the doctor snorted. "You're ten at the highest. Now, what kind of contact do you want?"

    After my conversation with the receptionist, I felt confident on this ground. "Acuvue," I said.

    The optometrist gaped at me, literally stunned by my stupidity. "What kind of answer is that?" he asked. "I said, What kind of contract do you want. Two month, one year... it's a replacements contract. Surely your opthalmologist told you about that two weeks ago. He probably gave you some papers to look over."

    "Oh, I thought you said contacts. You confused me," I said.

    The optometrist stared at me. "I'll try not to confuse you," he said in a voice one reserves for the deeply stupid. You never use this voice with someone who is genuinely retarded, because you know their mental handicaps are not their fault. My stupidity, it was clear, was entirely my fault-- the result of wilful inattention or catastrophically intense drug use.

    After signing me up for the most expensive contract, the optometrist began quizzing me. "What kind of contact solution do you use? Who is your primary care physician? What is the difference between and optometrist and an opthalmologist?" As my answers became more feeble and ludicrous, more and more technicians gathered around to enjoy the spectacle. Finally, playing to his audience, my eye technician delivered his coup de grace. "Would you like indigo on your epidermis?" he asked slyly.

    "Sure, is that extra?"

    "So you want me to paint you purple?? Haw haw!" The opthalmologist stood up and took a few victory laps around the office while his colleagues applauded. As I slipped away, red-faced and weeping, they were raising him to their shoulders and cheering.

    I never did get my contacts, but I count myself lucky that I escaped from the optometry office alive. I figure I don't really need contacts that bad. I'll just continue staring through a pair of onion rings taped to my face. It's a little blurry, but at least I have my self-respect.



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