I still get all bunged up when the eye doctor asks me which one is better: "Number one? Number two?" I want to give the best answer, since I know that correcting my vision is the optimum result, but sometimes they look just about the same. The last time I was in the chair with the impossibly ornate vision-checking goggles lowered in front of my face via spring-loaded arm I decided to let this slip. "They look about the same."
There was a pause, then my doctor enthused, "Good!" And suddenly all that tension slipped away. It is related to the paranoid fear I have of dental guilt, the hygienist tsking at me for the plaque and tartar that creeps inside my mouth in spite of my concerted efforts to brush, floss and rinse it away. Brushing and flossing my retinas doesn't seem like a practical plan, but I do wear my glasses every day, and avoid eye strain by taking breaks from staring at screens on a regular basis. Still, I've got this wobbly left eye that will never be as clever as his partner on the right, so I do the best I can with what I've got.
And that's just how my optometrist made me feel. I felt like I was being coached instead of shamed. As I read each line, I could hear, "Nice! Nice! Good!" in the background. I could feel my self-esteem growing as I worked my way through the random sampling of letters of ever-diminishing size. I wanted to read that last line of tiny text, but at last they were simply a gray blur.
And as a bonus, as I worked my way through the various permutations of the alphabet in different sized fonts, there was a rambling conversation that covered topics from movies to John Denver to the Occupy movement. This one was different from the one-sided discussions that take place in the dentist's office, while my mouth is full of tools and someone else's hands and I am left with nods and grunts as my only viable responses. Sadly, my insurance plan wants me to see the dentist twice a year, but I only get to hang in the optometrist's office once a year. I guess it makes sense: thirty-two teeth and only two eyes. I guess that's what makes the experience so very special.