I recently went to the opticians. I was due my biannual check up and besides I have spent the last few months peering very unattractively at small print on the sides of jars and considering the large print book aisle in the library.
I turned up for my allotted slot and, after having failed about ten times to not blink as a machine puffed cold air into my eye ball and as the patient lady tried to take a photo of each of my retinas, I finally got in to see the optician. (Apparently I have a very sensitive blink reflex, not sure whether to be proud or not…)
It is a cliche to say it but the optician or opthalmist or optometrist (if you know the difference please do let me know) really did look about twelve. She wasn’t the same optician as last time. But then it had been two years. We trawled through my eye history. How long had I worn glasses. Forever. Had I ever tried contacts. Please see above re my sensitive blink reflex. Did I have a history of eye issues. No. Was I experiencing any issues. Yes I can’t read anymore without the use of a magnifying glass, oh and recently whilst doing a particularly difficult colouring in by numbers with Youngest I had to wear a head torch.
The usual stuff.
Anyway she then said ‘Oh I can see you are a surfer!’
I was a bit taken aback by this.
Many things went through my head. I guessed that I had said this last time. I wasn’t sure why. Then I remembered that I had ordered prescription swimming goggles to wear on my holiday in Portugal where I was determined to learn to surf.
Many of you may have read Surfing. If not I suggest you do before carrying on. As you will therefore know my experience of surfing in Portugal had not been a success.
Despite this fact, and proabably because I was taken aback by the tone of admiration in her voice and that all these recollections were flowing into my brain at much too slow a pace to not leave a really, really pregnant pause I found myself agreeing that, yes, I was a surfer.
As soon as the words ‘Yes I do love to surf!’ left my mouth I realised my mistake.
My optician/opthalmist/optometrist proceeded to tell me how she was desperate to learn to surf and had tried but failed. She then went on to describe the exact problem that I myself had encountered when I was trying to surf. Namely getting up from one’s knees to one’s feet.
I murmured something which I hoped passed for understanding empathy for this dificulty. Which of course I do have. As I myself cannot get from my knees to my feet.
As I was trying to decide which was better ‘lens 1 or lens 2’ she proceeded to ask me for my tips for getting from one’s knees to one’s feet. Apparently she had had lessons, watched you tube videos, the works, nothing had helped. I was her last hope.
I managed to deflect the question by sympathising with her predicament and she was thankfully distracted by ‘are the dots clearer and brighter on the green, or the red’.
She then went on to ask me for my favourite surfing locations. As I have only ever failed to surf at one beach in Portugal, the name of which escaped me, I merely mentioned that we were off to Polzeath in the summer. This is true. I won’t be surfing.
We moved onto reading the extremely small print on a paddle.
I tried to deflect her persistent questioning on the knee/ foot/ location issues. She really wasn’t giving up. I decided on a new tack. I mentioned that if she found surfing too hard she could try body boarding. Thankfully she didn’t seem to know what I meant so I was able to fill some time whilst she fiddled around with the exceptionally ugly plastic frames perched on my nose waxing lyrical about a sport I can actually do.
Once I had outlined body boarding in some detail she seemed to suddenly get what I meant. ‘Oh’ she scoffed ‘that, well surely everyone can body board?’…
Well not really. I quite often leave keen looking middle aged men for dead when body boarding as they mis-time their jumps quite spectacularly.
She wasn’t to be persuaded.
I floundered on deflecting questions by explaining how good my kids are at surfing and desperately trying to avoid giving any advice. Which clearly I couldn’t give anyway.
The session ended. My reading prescription had jumped a whole half a point. New glasses should help with the reading. And colouring. But not my truthfulness.
As I left (rather hurriedly) to meet up again with puffy air, flashy photo lady to try to pick new frames whilst not being able to actually see what I look like, the optician/ opthalmist/ optometrist said to me,
”Well you have inspired me to have another go at surfing. If a lady of your age can do it surely I must be able to…”
The whole experience was wrong on so many levels.
Its two years until my next check up. I doubt she will still be there. Yes?