Leslie Knope: George, I notice you're wearing glasses; yet, on the day in question, I don't recall you wearing glasses. Could it be because you WEREN'T wearing glasses?
George: I never wear 'em on the job.
Leslie Knope: Can you take your glasses off please
[George removes his glasses]
Leslie Knope: and-and read this for us?
George: [George reads the paper in Leslie's hand] "I could read this…
[Leslie moves the paper away, George reads louder]
George: …if I weren't so blind!"
Leslie Knope: Well, well, that went terribly.
—Parks and Recreation, “The Trial of Leslie Knope” (12/1/11)
For most of my life, including when I first moved to Baltimore, I had some pretty good vision going on. In fact, I had some pretty great distance vision.
Then, around 2003, I was getting an eye exam and the doctor noted that I was having some trouble seeing smaller print. It was his opinion that I needed glasses to read.
“I’ve had great vision my whole life,” I protested. “What happened?”
He said, “You turned forty, that’s what happened.”
So that’s pretty much the way it goes, it turns out. Around age 40, the lenses in your eyes start to harden—specifically, they become less flexible—and it affects your vision. You need more light to see well, but you’re also more susceptible to glare. And, of course, smaller type becomes a big problem, you should excuse the expression.
Over the 13 years since then, my vision has really deteriorated, to the point where if I’m not wearing glasses, absolutely nothing in my field of vision is clear. I’m pretty sure that if a person with normal vision were to put on my glasses, they could actually see the future.
So this morning I was on my way out of the house, when I heard a loud rumbling nearby. I realized that it was the garbage truck making its rounds, and I realized that I had time to grab the trash I’d neglected to put out last night and get it to the curb. So I tossed my stuff into the car and grabbed the trash bin.
Just as I passed the car, the bin bumped into the front end of the car. I took a stumble and, as I gesticulated wildly to regain my balance (one-handed; I was still holding on to the bin), I accidentally knocked my glasses off my own face. They went flying off; I saw that much. But because of that nearby truck, I couldn’t hear them when they landed, so my echolocation skills weren’t going to help me. Despite this, I figured that if they’d hit the sidewalk I probably would have heard some clattering, and I hadn’t. So I started searching the immediate area. They wouldn’t be behind me because my car was there, plus my head would have been in that pathway. But ahead of me was some sidewalk, to the left, more sidewalk and several potted plants, and to the right was a garden that Wife had put in a few years ago. I started looking through the potted plants, the most likely suspects. Nothing. I looked in the garden. Nothing. I looked (carefully) around the sidewalk and, just for completeness’ sake, under my car. And again I came up empty. Another factor working against me is that it was overcast to the point of being about to rain, so the sun wasn’t shining down and reflecting off the glasses.
At this point I’d been looking for over ten minutes, so I said “To hell with it” and went back in the house to put in my contact lenses. The lenses will get the job done in that I’m able to read most print and drive safely, but a lot of stuff still just isn’t sharp. I wear them to social events and such, but it’s a lot of strain if I try to do computer-based work with them. So now, armed with better vision, I went back outside and looked again for the glasses.
Nothing. What the hell is going on here? How far could they have gone?
I finally had to decide that this was a mystery to solve later on, as I’d been doing this for about twenty-five minutes and I was definitely late for work. So, off to work I went. Fortunately it was not a computer-intensive day.
When I got home, I parked the car on the street rather than in the driveway, and I began searching anew for my glasses. The sun had broken through a little bit, so even though it was now on the other side of the house, it was still brighter out than it had been in the morning. Potted plants? Nope, not in there. On the sidewalk? Nope. On the ground near the potted plants? Nope, even moved them around. In the garden? Appears not.
Damn…Could they have flown across the sidewalk and into the lawn? I started to look that way but gave up quickly, then I came back…
…and there they were, in the garden.
Of course not. I know where they are, and I can’t even see them. Now, to the right is the opposite-direction view, taken from about the sidewalk meets the edge of the left-hand photo. Even from this angle, they’re pretty tough to see, but there they are, upside-down in the upper-right quadrant of the picture. You can’t even see the whole thing from that side.
But there they were, and there is where they spent the better part of the day, before I finally located them, almost accidentally.
And as for me, I spent the better part of the day trying to adjust glasses that weren’t there, which meant that I appeared to be saluting a lot.