I had my annual physical the other day…Oops, you’re supposed to call it chronic review or Medicare won’t cover it. So, during my ‘chronic review’, when the doctor looked at my bruised bicep, he paused and asked, “What the hell happened to your arm? Did you fall or something?”
I started to explain, but then realized what it might sound like. If he thought I was the victim of spouse abuse, he might feel compelled to report my wife. “Yeah,” I mumbled, “stumbled into the wall a couple nights ago.”
Here’s the backstory. It all started three months ago when I went to get an eye exam…they make you do that if you want to replace scratched lenses, even if you don’t think your prescription has changed. Huh! The sweet young thing did the usual: ‘Which is better? One? or Two?” Then bending over her hand-held tablet, crunching numbers and bringing up screens, she muttered through her Covid mask. “You have dry eyes.” Mutter…mutter.
Never used to have that problem. I teared up regularly for the usual occasions—funerals, birth of my kids, banging my thumb with a hammer, even laughing too hard. And while I never bought into the ‘men don’t cry’ myth, I do reserve judgement as to when to let tears fall. But these days, the optometrist was right. I don’t tear up as much or as easily. Maybe I’ve seen too much. Become cynical and hard boiled. A crusty old man. The only surefire way to bring tears to my eyes is to dice an onion or go for a long drive with my wife.
Let me explain. It’s when I’m on a long drive that I really notice the change in my vision. Sometimes, I can hardly make out freeway signs until I’m practically on them. I’ve learned it’s all about the ‘tear film’ I’m lacking that keeps vision sharp. Tear drops fix that. But who can stop every half-hour to put drops in your eyes? We’d never get anywhere between stopping for bathroom breaks and lunch and gas…aargh.
So, back to the chronic exam, what I couldn’t tell the doctor was, whenever I noticed highway signs blurring, I’d ask my wife to pinch my arm…hard. And after a couple hundred miles, it really brought tears to my eyes. Mission accomplished. But would he understand?
Retired trainer, and writing instructor, Joe Novara and his wife live in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Writings include novels, short stories, a memoir and various poems, plays, anthologies and articles. Read more at https://freefloatingstories.wordpress.com/