I made a visit to the optometrist last week. It’s never a particularly comfortable experience, but this time they managed to make it even more squirmy than usual. I think maybe they’ve been practicing.
As usual, the first thing they asked me to do was remove my contact lenses. It’s a reasonable request, I guess — except that I showed up twenty minutes early for my appointment (for once). So instead of effectively blinding myself and being led in to see the doctor immediately, I was dumped — myopic and defenseless — back in the lobby where normal, mostly-sighted people were shopping for eyeglasses. I’m sure they were all staring and pointing at the doofus meandering along the wall like a drunken spelunker to find a chair — but how the hell would I know? It’s not like I could see them or anything.
(For the record, I don’t object to being stripped of my corrective lenses while I’m in the joint; if they need my eyeballs to be unfettered for their crazy optometrical eye-xperiments, well, that’s what I’m there for.
I’m just suggesting that maybe we could disrobe my peepers in the exam room, privately — and during the actual doctor’s visit. That way, I’m not stuck all squinty and pitiful in the waiting area where people might get the wrong idea. One time, I went in wearing sunglasses and drinking a soda. People kept dropping change into my cup on the way by.
I swallowed two nickels and a parking meter slug before I realized what was happening. Freakin’ cheapskates.)
Eventually, they retrieved me and led me in to see the doctor. She ran through a few tests, squirted unnamed liquids of various colors into my eyes — Kool-Aid? Antifreeze? ‘Hey doc, how come this one smells like asparagus?’ — and let me put my lenses back in. As crisp precious clarity swept away the graymorphous blobs of the past hour’s existence, I looked at the optometrist, smiling at me from her chair.
And searched frantically for an excuse to tear the lenses back out.
It’s not that my doc is ugly, mind you. Far from it — she’s an attractive lady, in her mid-forties, probably, with dark hair and the sort of skin tone that suggests at least one of her parents grew up sipping olive oil somewhere along the Mediterranean.
(Or she’s Native American. Or Pakistani. Or maybe she’s a compulsive tanner, or dips herself in a vat of shellac every morning. Who knows?
Clearly, my ethnicity-based-on-skin-tone deductive powers are lacking when I can’t tell the difference between Northern Italian heritage and three coats of Thompson Water Seal. Fortunately, that’s not the point. This time.)
No, the only problem with my doc is the look. She’s somehow developed — carefully crafted, even, over years of patient interactions, no doubt — this… this look that she fixes you with while you’re in the chair. It features a slight smile — just an upturn of one corner of the mouth, really — with wide-open eyes and just the hint of a playful twinkle. It’s clear she’s worked long and hard on this expression; I suspect it’s her own personal ‘Blue Steel’. It’s meant to convey to her patients that she’s here to help us — she’s friendly, and open, and not overly serious when she doesn’t have to be. As a doctor, she can be trustworthy, a confidant, a partner in eye care. That’s what she seems to be going for.
“I’ve always had trouble reading Pakistani-Italio-Cherokee women. Especially the varnished ones.”
What I get from it is that she’s mulling over stabbing me with a saline dropper and stuffing the body in the dumpster out back. Which is really not the sort of vibe you want to be getting from someone who just pumped your eyeballs full of chemicals and has you trapped in a dark room. Alone. With medical supplies.
Of course, it’s possible I’m misinterpreting her look. My continued survival after several trips to see the woman — or to squint toward the sound of her voice, mostly — would suggest that her intentions are less than homocidal. And frankly, I’ve always had trouble reading Pakistani-Italio-Cherokee women. Especially the varnished ones.
Still. That look is one I’ve only seen on the likes of Law & Order baddies, and the sorts of calmly psychopathic killers they show in horror movie trailers before you’ve had time to avert your eyes. I’m not sure what that means for me — but I do have a follow-up appointment next week, for a “fitting”.
Only, I didn’t order new contacts. And they told me to park in the alley behind the office this time. And to ‘come alone‘.
You know, if it weren’t for the $10 co-pay on my insurance for going to this place, I would seriously think about finding a new optometrist.Permalink | 2 Comments