Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Bifocals

When I was six years old, and going to first grade at Lincoln Grade School in Chicago, my first grade teacher, Mrs. Griffith, told my parents that she couldn't get me to read.

I had learned all the letters and sounds the previous year in Mrs. Stocking's Kindergarten class. All that was left was to put it all together and read. That evening, my father sat me down with my reading textbook and had me read to him. Though it was over 40 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember my father correcting my pronunciation of the word "grandfather;" I'd pronounced it "grand-fat-her." The "th," he told me, was one sound (a "dipthong", as I learned as a teacher).

By the next day, I'd finished the textbook, and my love affair with reading had begun.

My parents had bought a set of World Book Encyclopedias before any of us could read. My brothers and I would go through the encyclopedia and look at the pictures and speculate on what they were about, and sometimes ask my mother what they were about. I discovered, to my delight, that now that I was reading, I could read those articles myself.

I've read a newspaper just about every day since I was seven or eight years old. I can't eat my breakfast without a newspaper in front of me (sometimes the electronic version of the New York Times). When I was 11 or 12 years old, my father, ironically, exasperated with my constant reading, made me go 24 hours without reading (I cheated, and managed to sneak some reading in).

Last year, I got a new prescription for vision correction. I got new contacts, and put off new glasses. My optician told me that this was going to be the prescription that I'd need reading glasses. Sure enough, when I put my new contacts in, I discovered that everything close to me had gotten blurry.

I was able to use the store-bought reading glasses, but it wasn't that good. A few weeks ago, I finally went to Vision Works and had them fill my new prescription in glasses-- my first bifocals.

I got the call that my new glasses were in, and went to try them on. I was amazed. My father had had difficulty adjusting to bifocals-- he got dizzy. I had no such problem. I had the "progressive" lenses-- no lines.

They had a great deal; I got two pairs of glasses for $207. I highly recommend this company-- the service was great, and the glasses were made faster than promised. Since I got two pairs, I got one pair that's reasonably fashionable, and another pair that is bigger--my "Swifty Lazar glasses," I call them, for when I'm at home reading.

I can't tell you how nice it's been to be able to read comfortably again. I have a lot of reading to do for school, and I love reading my New york Times everyday, but I'm also really enjoying reading for pleasure again. I'm reading Michael Wallis' revisionist biography of Billy the Kid, "Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride," and have previewing what looks like a great biography of Eisenhower. I'm also looking at a book called "Heat," about global warming, and "The Republican War on Science."

Like my growing amount of grey hair and crow's feet, my new need for bifocals is a sign of age. But, as my mother points out, getting older beats the alternative.

9 comments:

Coaster Punchman said...

I'm not sure when I'm going to need them - my eye doctor was surprised last time he checked me that I wasn't ready for bifocals yet. I'll take your word for it that it's a good experience.

Cheer34 said...

I need them, but have not gotten them. I just switch glasses. Not very practical. I love to read too, only nothing as mind engaging as the books you mentioned. Currently I am reading "The Templars". History is a favorite topic of mine to read. I love crime mysteries too.

GETkristiLOVE said...

I'm the only one in my family that's never had glasses. I think I need them for reading now though. I should go make an apt.

Bubs said...

I love my reading glasses. I found out that MizBubs digs a guy in glasses. She thinks it makes me look brainy, and Jeebus knows I could use help in that department.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I've been using bifocals for two years now ... and I'm still young. Also, my bifocals have absolutely no hint of lines.

Johnny Yen said...

CP-
I've had no problem with them. I feel lucky that I got off without them until now-- my brother got them in his early twenties!

Cheer34-
I wouldn't be able to walk over and pick up a book without my glasses-- I'm very, very nearsighted.

Is "The Templars" about the Knights Templar? There's a book by John Robinson called "Born In Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry" about the Knights Templar. It explodes a lot of myths about them-- primarily that they are some nefarious group. They're devoted to public good.

Kristi-
Lucky for you! I've had glasses since I was 8 or 9.

Bubs-
Funny-- my bride thinks I'm hot in them too. Personally, I just feel old in them.

JR-
The lines-free are the way to go, aren't they?

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I bet you look smokin in those Swifty Lazar glasses!

I can't go 5 minutes without reading either. I'll read toothpaste tubes if I have to.

I've had readers for 7 years now, but I keep misplacing them.

SkylersDad said...

I wore glasses for being Nearsighted since I was in 4th grade. Then in 1997 or so I had the Obi One laser treatment, best thing I ever did for myself!

'Bubbles' said...

I tried the monovision thing with contacts. One eye for distance, one for close. Uh, that is just silly!

Since I had Lasik I have been pretty good, except for really, really small print.

Sadly... I seem to need more and more and more light to see, which I think is a sign of cataracts.

As Guilda Radner said, "It's always something."

What the heck did people do back in the days that there was no surgery for cataracts, etc.?