A couple of weeks ago, I took off my glasses at work to make a dramatic gesture, and the temple snapped off in my hand. This is the second time these particular frames have broken in just a few months, so I bounced right off to my funny little optician to get them fixed.
He is a silly little bunny. His prices are good, but he is not much of a businessman. Also, intellectually, he does not seem to be the most fully-inflated beach ball at the pool party. “They’ll be ready by Wednesday” usually means “Check back on Friday.” He gets dithery and confused easily. Every time I go to him, I swear I’ll never go to him again. Then he posts a new price list, and I think: Wow! That’s cheap! And I go back to him.
Anyway: “No problem,” he said. “I’ll order new frames for you.” (This was on a Saturday.) “Check back on Wednesday.” (Translation: “Stop by next Saturday.”)
During the week, I made do with old pairs of glasses. My prescription changes dramatically from year to year; evidently my eyeballs mutate at random. Some of my old glasses are good for distance vision, some for close-up. I found I was reading the newspaper by taking off my (old) glasses altogether and holding it up to my eyeball, like a jeweler examining a precious stone.
Another week passed. I went to see Funny Optician. He spun in circles, excusing himself for not having fixed my glasses yet. It was the manufacturer’s fault; they hadn’t sent the replacement frames. He didn’t know what the problem was. (Did I mention that he has a high whiny voice with a really seriously advanced Rhode Island accent?) Come back Monday, maybe Tuesday.
I checked in on Monday. I found a sign that said CLOSED MONDAY.
Now I was ready to kill him.
I took the day off on Wednesday and went to see him again, carrying a polo mallet. Again he spun in circles. Then, suddenly, he circled back. “Hey!” he wheezed. “What about plastic?”
“What?” I said.
“Instead of metal frames,” he said. “Maybe they’d wear better for you. I could do those right now. These are tortoise. You don’t want tortoise. Are these brown or black? Can you tell? I got black here somewhere. Wait a minute –“
As he was jabbering, I thought: I need something new. I just turned fifty-five. I’ve been wearing metal frames for decades now. Maybe a little hipster action will be good for me. Also, he’s probably right; plastic will probably wear better than metal.
I left a few minutes later with a nice pair of plastic frames. I’d forgotten how intense! my most recently-updated prescription was; as I stepped out onto the street, I think I could see the past and future simultaneously.
Everyone says I look younger now.
So: my funny little optician has (inadvertently) given me the best fifty-fifth birthday present of all.