I I I I
I got contacts this week for the first time in twelve years. The last time I went at this I was an impressionable 16 years old, and having watched "Labyrinth" on VHS a solid dozen times, my dream was to look exactly like Jennifer Connelly. Since I apparently had nothing more than a cartoonish grasp on the various complexities of the human form, I assumed that blue eyes and dark hair were all that was needed, and I already had the dark hair (albeit curly, but I had plenty of delusion to go around), so a set of colored contacts was all that remained to land my own teenage Goblin King. My mother, whose love for medical specialists is rivaled only by her love of "Man Vs. Wild" and possibly my father, was overjoyed that she and her daughter would have finally have something in common, and she happily took me down to the Walmart Eye Clinic to have me diagnosed up, right next to the bags of Ice Melter for impulse buyers.
Not yet having spent a decade online interacting with people solely through Times New Roman, my eyesight was not terrible, but I did have some need for correction. The contact industry had not yet evolved to the point that companies didn't still have to explain the basic concept--I think the slogan for my brand was "It's Like Glasses for Your Eyeballs!"--so the lenses I actually got were pretty primitive and useless. This was the same cautious, unexplored medical era that warned us that tampons were only supposed to be left in for a barely-worth-the-unwrapping length of four hours max for fear of the dreaded Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), which had resulted in the death of thousands of careless nonexistent teenage girls everwhere, until a quick straw poll amongst the wives of AMA doctors as to how long women were actually leaving their tampons in resulted in a national "Ew" and TSS joining the Forgotten Medical Worries list below "Too Much Black Bile."
It took very, very many tries to get the contacts in to what the doctor referred to as "small set eyes" using a less than affectionate tone, and in the daily Sophie's Choice of painting tiny flowers on each fingernail, studying, or improving my vision, the hands had it. When I did put them in, the blue fighting against my normally very dark eyes didn't give me the mysterious air I was looking for, and I ended up looking like a nocturnal predator. I tried to put them in every now and then for a change, but I was comically bad at it, and in my sophomore year of college, after I found a lost contact that had been hiding in the back of my eye socket for three days, I gave up.
Earlier this week, a combination of impending loss of employment/insurance and a driver's license renewal brought me to the local Cohen's Optical. I figured I'd just get the basic checkup and be done with it, since eye doctors never seem to appreciate my honesty when I tell them that I don't wear my glasses "because I'm vain", but when it became patently obvious that answers on an eye test should not contain the word "either" as often as mine did, I sheepishly asked the doctor to toss in the contacts examination. She followed up with a few very simple questions about what sort of contacts I wanted--apparently, "The ones that you can sleep in for a couple weeks" is not an actual brand, but rather and indication of the bad habits of many of my friends--and eventually gave me a pair that rather creepily promise to breathe oxygen.
I had thought that the fact I had made it to this age in one piece might indicate a general sort of competency, but when I went to the bathroom and the doctor asked me if "I had really washed my hands, with soap and all", I realized I hadn't exactly impressed her thusfar, and she made me put in a pair of contacts and take them out to demonstrate that I wasn't a danger to myself. Unfortunately, I was, and while the doctor was busily scrawling "DO NOT LET ON ROADS"on my DMV form, I proceeded to cry, poke, and snot my way through the trial, until she eventually had to come over and tell me to sit still while she combed through the folds of my dress to find yet another lost contact (still MIA). I finally was allowed to leave, and upon stepping out to the street and seeing my world with almost grotesque clarity, I wandered around like Nell all day, playing the "Who can read the sign first?" game like a child.