It feels like you’re either having a 1960s flashback or a serious stroke. But it’s much too difficult to tell when the world is dangerously wacky everywhere you look.
It might be that new blood pressure medication interacting with the herbal green tea that you had this morning. Or is it a Chinook weather front moving in? That always plays havoc with your migraines.
A full moon perhaps? That can certainly do it. Or maybe it really is that blood clot in the cerebellum that you’ve been obsessing about lately.
Not to worry, fellow four-eyes. It’s just your new glasses. Or, if you are lot braver than I am, your new contact lenses.
The catch is, they aren’t just your ordinary simple single-prescription glasses — the kind you can easily substitute with a $12 pair of magnifying spectacles from London Drugs.
No, I’m taking about the mind-numbingly expensive, high-tech marvels of the modern age — progressive lenses.
I’m not sure where the “progress” part of the optometry is, however.
These surprisingly legal devices of torture were once called bifocals (which is a medical term, from the Latin “bi,” meaning “difficult,” and “focals,” meaning “to see anything.”
Then, believe it or not, they invented trifocals (from the Latin “tri,” meaning “impossible.”
Now, the optical profession, presumably as an inside joke, call them progressives, and the rest of us, the ones who have to wear them, call them something much less flattering. And much less printable.
The difference between then and now is that in the “old days” several years ago, everybody could tell that you were an old fogey because you were wearing glasses with several horizontal layers of correction in the glass. That’s because everyone could actually see the thick lines dividing the various levels of nearsightedness and farsightedness. Which was much more than the person wearing the glasses could see actually looking through the lenses.
Anyone who has had to progress to progressive lenses will know exactly what I’m talking about.
From the moment you put them on, you are standing in a canoe, looking around in a world of funhouse mirrors, wondering how you landed in the middle of Planet Bizarro.
As TV star Bill Cosby said when he got his new glasses: “The first time I went outside with my new trifocals, I took a three-mile walk through the lobby of my ophthalmologist’s building, climbed a five-foot curb, and then met an autograph seeker who happened to be a giant eyeball.
“Mr. Cosby, could I have your autograph?” “Yes, yes! Just don’t eat me!”
Your professional optical care person assures you that you will “get used to it in time,” not letting on that “getting used to it” means “not walking into things as much,” and “in time” means “about the time you need even stronger glasses.”
But, as with indigestion and telemarketers, you learn to live with it. Meaning, you get pretty good at faking it. Just like life.
So when you drive your car, you have your chin riveted to your chest, and when you read anything at all you have your nose straight up in the air.
That’s the only way you can look through the correct part of your glasses to clearly see a small percentage of what you’re actually looking at.
And when you do pretty much everything else in life, like working and watching TV (which for many of us takes up most of everything else in your life) you are squinting through the middle part of your progressives, which is a horizontal “window” about the width of a human hair. This is the section of your lenses that the optical professionals refer to, technically, as “the really blurry part.”
So we “corrective lens” category humans envy you lucky ones who don’t have to make spectacles of yourselves (haha). Because for so many of us unfortunate souls who stumble through our days and nights peering through progressive lenses, life is one big blur.
But at least we have an excuse.
Harley Hay is a local filmmaker and freelance writer.