This past Saturday, I had to go to the eye doctor. Nothing in my life causes me more stress than going to the eye doctor. I know there are other doctors that commonly cause people more anxiety than eye doctors, but, in my world, they are the most feared.
When I was a little girl living in Burns Lake, my parents came to realize that their socially awkward, extremely shy girl also had one eye that was lazy. Laziness of any kind was not tolerated in my family – only hyper productive, hard working eyes were allowed - so my parents set about to get it fixed right away. Because the town doctor was temporarily on “vacation” due to a revocation of his licence for something called “incompetence”, we made the arduous journey to the big city of Prince George. For those of you who don’t know Prince as it is called, think about mixing the smell of sulphur and rotting eggs with unemployment and red necks and you pretty much have a good idea of what that mill town is like. But Prince had an A&W, and we always got a root beer float everytime we went. For me, this feature made a visit to PG like a visit to New York – wonderful and exciting!
In Prince George, I met my first eye doctor, Dr. Dixon. My parents hated Dr. Dixon because he was a hippie. They knew he was a hippie because he had sideburns. Only hippies and communists had sideburns. Dr. Dixon examined my wandering left eye and said I needed to “see better”…. this I soon came to realize was code for “ You need to wear big, freakin’ ugly glasses.” Because, I also needed to have my lazy eye “corrected”, I also had to wear an eye patch on my stronger eye to encourage the lazy one to get up off its ass and see straight. The rationale of having a lazy eye that was always looking off to the side work on its own, pretty much guaranteed that I would be walking in circles. Seeing the world in front of me was no longer an option.
Arriving back in Burns Lake, I came to learn the definition of the words “pirate” and “torment”.
Yarrrrrrrrrr…..yarrrrrr…..yarrrrrrr….was how all sentences started whenever anyone spoke to me.
In today’s world, as an adult, I would be mortified if I had to wear a huge eye patch with a thick pair of eye goggles covering it. When I was a kid in grade two, however, I was mortified X 1000. After my forth day of coming home sobbing because the kids wanted to see my hook, my mom took matters into her own hands. Mortified X 1000 X 2, I watched as she marched down to talk with my teacher. My teacher, Mrs. Carlson, was 104 years old. Since Burns Lake could not get new young teachers to go there, anyone that started teaching was forbidden to retire. Mr. Tolbert actually died in front of his grade five class and they didn’t replace him for seven months. The administration said it gave the class a chance to catch up on their silent reading.
Anyway, after my mom’s visit, Mrs. Carlson promised to address the issue. The next day she called me to the front of the class. I stood there as she made this pronouncement to “fix” the problem.
“Children. Now, Maggie does indeed look like a pirate. But her mom says you should stop calling her a pirate. Stop asking her where her parrot is, telling her to walk the plank and asking to see her scurvy marks. You should also stop putting things in front of her. She cannot see them and will just trip If you want her to see something, walk over to her left side and show it to her. Apparently, her left eye has no Protestant work ethic and is, therefore, evil. Now, I personally think your behaviour it is funny and clever but, she can’t take it, so try to stop if you can.”
It was a crushing day in Maggie history as I made the long walk back to my desk only to find a note waiting for me on the far left corner….”Yarrrrr” it read.
The next week or so were relatively without incident until my mom decided to up the stakes. Because the removing of the eye patch was painful to me and time-consuming for her…(think about pulling a big adhesive patch off your eyebrows and face…yep, now you’ve got it)….my mom thought of a brilliant way to alleviate my pain and make her life easier. Instead of putting the eye patch on my face, she briiliantly decided to wrap black electrical tape around the lens of my glasses. Yes, at that point, even I was calling myself Black beard Maggie.
By grade six, my lazy eye had healed and Dr. Dixon, who had moved from a hippie phase to a pronounced disco phase, said I no longer needed glasses….YIPPEEE!!!
Fast forward twenty-plus years.
I began to get hints from my family and friends that perhaps I should consider getting my eyes re-checked. Apparently, it is not common to type in Microsoft Word with font size 72.
Taking a deep breath, I made an appointment to see an eye doctor near my house. His name was Dr. Stupid. That is what I am calling him. I took a day off work and sat in his waiting room for over an hour with a promise that he was “running late” due to important eye doctor business. I envisioned him stopping to fix the eyes of orphans or giving dogs to the blind. In reality, however, he was running late because he had to place an order for some stocks. I know this because that is what he told me. He also reeked of booze and stale cigarettes.
Anyway, I saw him for two minutes when he made the diagnosis:
(Read in loud echo-y slow motion.)
“Your eyes have deteriorated.”
Tightening in my chest
“They are in horrible shape.”
Lower lip starts to quiver.
“You need GLASSES.”
A single tear trickles down my cheek.
“We have a lovely new Pirates of the Caribbean line that you might want to check out.”
I began to sob uncontrollably. Dr. Stupid, who obviously learned his people skills from Stalin, ushered me out of his office and left me sobbing in the waiting room. People stared. I sobbed and dripped for a few minutes and then left. Everyone was happy to see me go. Even me.
After a month of trauma counselling, a friend recommended I see his eye doctor for a second opinion. I met Dr. Chris with a lot of hesitancy but he was young, hip and, well, SUPER gorgeous. It is amazing how a gal becomes much braver when a cute guy is involved. I told him of my experience and he listened intently, sided with me and blamed Dr. Stupid for being so lame. I was in love.
He looked at my eyes and said they looked fine. You bet they look fine! He said I might need glasses for reading but there are lots of sexy styles that would be fun to wear. Yes, what a great idea. Fun to wear sexy glasses!! Dr. Chris wanted to see me again. Yes!! In six months. Sure!! For another eye exam. Okay! I’ll take what I can get!!
I do have glasses now but just for reading. I’m okay with it. I can even make the odd pirate reference without sobbing…Yaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…..