Thursday, June 17, 2010

You're afraid of what you need... If you weren't...Then I don't know what we'd talk about


‘Mr. Coyle? This is Lafayette Hill Eye Care and we just wanted to inform you that you can’t order contact lenses until you get another eye exam. It’s been over a year since we last checked your eyes. You’re going to have to make an appointment.’

This is my first issue. I can still see fine with my current prescription. I’m not bumping into walls or mistaking rodents for house pets. Do I really need to come into the office again? It’s not like this year has been filled with ocular madness.

I have to wait over a month for an appointment, and I finally arrive on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The waiting room holds an old style Pac-Man arcade game, which has to be bad for your eyes. I’ve always wanted to step up and play, but why would I strain my peepers staring at a chomping Yellow circle evading ghosts minutes before sitting in that dreaded chair? So about 35 minutes later they call my name and I’m lead to a sterile room filled with ugly illustrated posters of eye infections.

A young woman comes in the room wearing scrubs and starts asking me the usual questions. Are you allergic? Do you have any diseases? Your thoughts on metaphysics? She then instructs me to hold a black plastic spoon looking thing over my left eye and hands me a card filled with random sentences. The card has fonts ranging from monster to mini. This card has been handed to me every fucking time I get my eyes checked. I practically know the last sentence. It’s about popcorn kernels containing a certain amount of water, which leads to them popping when heated. WHY? Because the water inside the kernel turns to steam, this causes the kernel to pop.

I start reading and she immediately tells me the card is too close to my face. I then place it on my lap, and she tells me it’s too far. She then decides to hold to card up for me. I have bad eyes, not bad hands. So I read the sentence about popcorn kernels and she looks at me and says, ‘You know…those are all true facts on that card.”


Then the lights go down, no candle is light, but she holds a pen light in her hand. She gets so close to my face that our noses are about to touch and starts shining the light in my eyes. Then it hit me.

Her breath was fucking awful.

I make it a point to have gum or a mint in my mouth whenever I go there. I know they are going to be close, so I prepare. I’m just an ornery patient, but this is her job, her breath should smell amazing. It should remind me of the beach and the fresh air in the mountains. All it did was compliment the massive pictures of oozing sties hanging from the walls.

When that torture is over the Ophthalmologist comes in the room for the ever-so popular ‘Read that line of letters’ test. The eye chart appears on the wall via some archaic projection system and I’m asked to read the bottom line with my right eye covered.


Every time I get it right she responds like I’m a child who just learned to go potty. ‘WOW…THAT’S GREAT. YOU’RE DOING AMAZING!’

Then I am asked to cover my left eye and read some more letters.


It wasn’t hard because I said the same thing two seconds before. I could have covered both eyes and passed with flying colors. Why don’t they switch the charts when you switch eyes? Nobody wants to get it wrong, so even if they are struggling they’re still going to repeat the letters. How hasn’t this issue been raised yet? And has it led to people having wonky eyes?

Then my face is placed in some contraption that looks like something Egon wore in ‘Ghostbusters’ and once again the doctor nears my face. I try not the breath out my nose, but I can’t hold it anymore and get a whiff. She should have a never ending supply of Altoids in her lab coat. She’s the top dog in the office and has worse breath that the last woman.

She then puts drops in my eyes that burn like the sun and does some more tests. My prescription hasn’t changed (no shit) and I’m ready to step out into the world with some fresh lenses. However she forgot to tell me that the drops would make my eyes sensitive to light. As soon as I start driving, I start screaming. I can’t see the road, start swerving like a drunk idiot in the middle of the day and almost kill myself and other drivers. It took about ten minutes of writhing around car before I could see properly again.

So I was teased by a video game, forced to sit in an uncomfortable chair, showered with halitosis, and almost died in a car accident just to learn my prescription hadn’t changed in over a year. Amazing.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

I'm Happy...Hope You're Happy Too


We stumbled into the gray dorm with the coordination of a baby fawn. The soda machines glowed bright next to the community bathrooms. I am sure we stopped along the way, avoiding a public urination fine from the campus police clad in bike helmets and heavy-duty fanny packs. The bathroom was surprisingly clean for a Saturday night and we held ourselves up before the urinals by leaning on the speckled dividers. I leaned too hard, belly full of beer and cafeteria food, and heard the sound of plastic cracking. Ryan looked over and chuckled before leaning into another divider.

We both hit the floor chuckling next to shattered urinal dividers. Out of breath and wheezing with laughter Ryan stepped in front of the mirror. He lifted his right arm, pointing at the line of blood creping down his arm. His wide grin lingered in front of the mirror as I picked up the broken divider and fired it up into the fluorescent lights above. A cloud of white dust and glass showered the top of my head. It was my time before the mirror.

I shook my head sending glass fragments onto the tiled floor. I didn’t have any blood to show, but my grin was just as strong.

I then assumed a three-point stance and sent myself into the side of one of the stalls. Bolts snapped and skipped across the floor. I was left laying belly down on a cold light-brown piece of hollow metal. I didn’t feel a thing and rolled onto the floor laughing maniacally.

Ryan and I are high school friends who went to different colleges in the same city. His school was filled with stone buildings that held the reverence of castles. It was a school that held soon –to-be presidents and cancer curers. A school that would have scoffed at my SAT’s.

My school was a far ride down the Metro amongst once gorgeous dilapidated homes and corner bars. Everyone looked the same and drank beer together on the weekends at the same place. Wearing sweatpants everywhere was the norm.

Ryan assumed the same three-point stance and leapt before crashing through the hollow metal of the second stall. He growled like a cat in heat, wind knocked right out of his gut. I fell to the ground laughing, leering at the third stall, imagining its fate.

The destruction of the third stall left my sweater ripped from shoulder to hip. Ryan noticed first. His blood stained arm aimed at the casualty of war.

With his last bit of gusto Ryan destroyed the fourth stall with ease. He stood over the rubble, gnarled hands above his head, violently catching his breath.

The bathroom was left with at least hundreds of dollars in damage and an awful mess for an unsuspecting janitor. We were first semester freshmen and this was one of the most exciting nights we had all year. Getting into a bar with a good fake ID, and heading back to the dorms with drunk anger and aggression blowing out of our ears. This is all we knew and what we lived for.

Ten years later and I look back upon that night with guilt and wonderment. Why would I run through a bathroom like a wild hungry beast smashing through everything before me?

As college moved along I stopped visiting this school filled with castles. Ryan was there, but I didn’t belong there. I leaned against the bars alone wondering if people were whispering about me. My future was bleaker than theirs. My sweater had a big rip in it.

That cannon ball of a night was inferiority firing out of my pores. I knew early on that my school was a long way down the Metro. Sometimes I wonder if Ryan was feeling the same way. Did he want to smash that whole place with an axe? Part of me thinks he did, but then again…I started it.

'Max knew his animal kingdom, but he had no names for these beasts.' - Eggers