30 October 2004

Jeepers creepers

by Matt Rubinstein at 11:20 pm

chdal.jpgRight now I’m recovering from laser eye surgery, although perhaps “recovering” is the wrong word. I thought it would be like this scene from Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí’s stoner fave Un Chien Andalou (you can see more screenshots, including the nasty one, here) and take weeks of stumbling and Lear-type cursings. And although this still does approximate one important step in the LASIK procedure, in fact the whole thing was almost painless and almost instantly effective, and now I’m going around recommending it to all of the myopic types among whose number I used to count myself.

I was first prescribed glasses when I was about 11 and could no longer read the blackboard for all my squinting and guesswork. It was an ambivalent relationship, best summed up by a sequence of whispered comments by a couple of fledgling babes in my first high-school maths class, which I always suspected was deeply sarcastic. “I think he’s cute without his glasses,” said one. (I wasn’t.) “Yeah, but his glasses make him look older—more mature,” said the other. (I’m sure, if they did, the effect was negligible.) You can imagine the paralysis to which a pubescent dork might be reduced by such a pair of conflicting appraisals.

I got some contact lenses but kept losing/ripping/letting ocular crud accumulate on them and soon gave up on the whole business. For a long time I embraced my glasses as a reflection of my personality, almost as a kind of nerd battle-scar—that’s what you get for reading Ulysses, for writing a thousand sonnets, I thought, and tried to find frames that went well with skivvies and God knows what else. I quite liked being able to take my specs off and let the world fuzz up a bit, let us retreat from each other. I felt slightly morally superior to, and slightly betrayed by, the contact-lens crew and the squinter brigade, with their fragile self-worth, their pitiable vanity. I always kind of fancied girls with glasses, and I don’t think that’ll ever change.

But at bottom, not being able to see unaided is a real pain. Carrying around regular glasses and prescription sunglasses, swapping them every time you go in and out of somewhere, not having anywhere to put them all; trying to see in the rain; getting involved in almost any kind of sport. If you want to get into a fistfight—which I always kind of did, in a secret and not-very-well-thought-out way—you can’t really do it, you can’t muster the necessary abandon. Even these miraculous disposable one-day contacts, which I’ve recently sworn by (“Fuck, these are good—and relatively cost-effective,&#8221 I always said to myself, when putting them in)—even they come out when you’re swimming, or disappear up behind your eyelids when you jump into water from something high above the water, giving you all sorts of concerns about your optic nerves and so on. Plus, they dry your eyes out.

So once a couple of friends had had this diminishingly-newfangled procedure done, I started getting interested. And I couldn’t be happier with the way it’s gone. There were disturbing noises and burning smells at the time, and for the afternoon and evening of that day I could hardly open my eyes—you know how it is when you’re chopping fresh chilies and you accidentally rub your eyes (which by the way is far from the worst thing you can do when you’re absent-mindedly chopping fresh chilies)—but by dawn the next day (4:58 or something ridiculous) I could see clear across the room, for the first time in a long time, and it felt like some kind of miracle. It really did. Twenty-four hours after the operation I had near-20/20 and was ready to get out and look at things. I think I got off pretty lightly, as some of my friends had a slightly rougher time for slightly longer. But they all say it was the best thing ever, and I’d have to agree. Things are a bit bright during the day and haloed at night, but getting better already. There are risks, of course, but if I can keep from rubbing my eyes for the next while I think I’m out of the woods. It is an amazing thing. I may miss the glasses, and whichever high-school maths-babe claimed to prefer them, but really we’d been growing apart anyway.

One Response to “Jeepers creepers”

  1. Nick Says:

    good to hear it. did you get a “stunt cow” to stand in for you just to continue the bunuel theme?

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