It all began with a Dorito Loco Taco Combo, and it had been creeping up on me over the past year. I’d walk into a fast food place then glance up at the menu only to find that someone had fuzzed it up. The words on the lighted billboard used to be so plain but recently they’d gone out of focus. New lighting? A sloppy maintenance man? It couldn’t be me. I’d had my eyes tested off and on ever since I was young and always came out with twenty-twenty vision. In fact, the last time I visited an eye doctor he’d said, “Stop bothering me. Go to ShopKo and buy a pair of reading glasses. Your eyes are fine.” But that darned menu board was going out of focus. Thinking that perhaps it had something to do with the hot sauce I tried Hardees. Same thing. Burger King. Ditto. So I walked back into the Taco Bell and not wanting to seem somehow disabled I said, “I’ll take a number 11!” It turned out to be a Dorito Loco Taco Combo and it tasted pretty good. Bottom line: I ordered nothing but number 11 from then on. I had no idea what the other menu items said and I wasn’t taking any chances.
Okay, the Dorito Loco Taco Combo isn’t bad but I could see myself doomed to a lifetime of eating the same thing, so I bit the bullet and returned the eye doctor and quickly discovered that things had changed a great deal since the last time I visited an Eye-ologist. It had been several years since I had my orbs examined, but I was pretty sure that I sat the reclining chair, the doc put a machine up against my eyes, I identified the letters on the screen and then he gave his diagnosis. This time I was treated to a twenty-minute interview. “Are you having problems with your eyes?”
“Uh. . . yes.”
“What sort of problem?”
“I keep ordering the Dorito Loco Taco Combo.”
“That’s three tacos with a bunch of stuff of them.”
“I mean, what’s the problem?”
“The world has gotten fuzzy.”
“For how long?”
“For as long as I’m looking at the menu board.”
“I mean how long have things been fuzzy.”
“It’s hard to tell. I attended college in the sixties.”
“I mean with your current problem.”
“Uh. . a year? It’s hard to say. I can’t see the calendar.”
Having checked all her checkmarks she told me to wait for the Head Poobah of the Eye-ologists who guided me into a room that resembled the Apollo space capsule. If I could have seen what was happening I could describe it more accurately, but after a myriad of tests and questions I walked out the door (not into it) with a prescription for new glasses. I thought that the ordeal was over. Wrong.
I used to buy a car by going to the dealer’s lot, looking at what they have on hand, then driving something home. Now I have to order a vehicle after mulling over an encyclopedic list of options. Instead of just saying, “Gimme some glasses,” I was in for another half hour of decisions.
“Which of these frames would you like?”
“Anything that makes me look better.”
“Uh. . “
“Okay, so they don’t make them. Gimme the cheapest.”
“Would you like bifocal, trifocal, or occupational multifocal?”
“I just want to go home. Can you lead me to my car?”
Then we entered the world of bifocals with a visible line or without, glasses that darken when you go into the sunlight, glasses that cut down the glare of approaching traffic, prescription sunglasses, and a whole mess of cleaning options. If I had taken the entire package it would have almost equaled what I paid for my first car so I picked a couple of the cheaper choices, made a note to stop at the bank to arrange a loan, and felt may way down Morton Avenue awaiting the arrival of my new specs.
To reward myself for surviving the optical ordeal I stopped at Taco Bell and took a chance by ordering a number 15 although I couldn’t tell what it was. It’s really hard to drive down Morton eating a Taco Salad.