It's Better Here

It wasn’t exactly non-verbal communication, since the man was using his verbs. It was the way his verbs were verbalized that made the diff.

“Is it better here.... (click, click...) OR IS IT BETTER... HERE?”

Without specifically letting me know that it was better on the second option, with the tone of his voice, elevated volume and inflection, the optometrist of my childhood ostensibly left it up to me to choose through which specific lens, my eyesight was, in fact, better.

In a darkened examination room, E’s pointing in all directions on the far wall, with that behemoth of an apparatus containing myriad lenses and dials perched precariously on the bridge of my youthful nose, the man telegraphed what we both knew to be true. I needed new glasses.

After the diagnosis, he was really skilled at steering my mother to the “showroom,” where dozens of eyeglass frames were perched in individualized trays that covered all four walls, interspersed by mirrors. Move the little handle to the right, and an entirely new selection of horn rims and wire frames emerged.

Skilled, because selling frames was an easy money revenue stream for Dr. Is it Better Here or HERE. Mom soon caught on that we could get the same or better frames, cheaper, at a shop in Twin Lakes and I learned the difference between an optometrist and an optician.

(Though I remained a little fuzzy about what, exactly, went on at the Optimist Club).

The fact that I was a kid, and the man knew enough about my vision patterns to predict that I’d need stronger lenses every couple of years made these annual optometrist appointments somewhat perfunctory. I’d been wearing specs since third grade. The only question remaining was when would I transition from 60’s horn rims to 70’s gold wireframes? The general answer: Long after all my peers and colleagues had. The specific answer: Summer between 7th and 8th grade.

Now firmly entrenched in the precipice of middle age, I have achieved (evolved to..? earned..?) the point in time on the cradle-to-grave chronology that those who render medical-related services tend to be younger than me.

My dentist looks like his most recent worry was pinning the corsage on his Senior prom date (Do they still do that? Pin corsages on prom dates?) After the weather and Big 12 football, he and I have pretty much exhausted our common interests.

But bless our hearts, we try.

Kid Dentist: “So, how about that D-line?”

Me: “Ahghlrzmth, nuhrhft... gawoeyhaugtzh.”

Today, I learned that the behemoth of an apparatus containing myriad lenses and dials perched precariously on the bridge of my no longer youthful nose is called a phoropter (FEAUX-ropter). I learned it, by asking my current optometrist, who carries on the time-honored peeper diagnostic tradition.

She’s 30-something and wields the phoropter with the skill and expertise that comes with experience. She lays the “Is it better here.... (click, click)... or here?” routine on me, though without the telegraphed inferences of her predecessor of my youth.

When these ancillary medical practitioners look at me, their optics reveal someone their parents’ age. They tend to defer accordingly. Thing is, I don’t think of myself as their parents’ age. I’m still not used to it.

I guess it depends on from which side of the lenses you’re viewing.

So maybe it is better... HERE.