Joe Pisani and the mysterious case of the gaslighting glasses
One of life’s most annoying challenges as you get old — and by old I mean 40, even though I’ll never see 40 again — is that you have to wear “cheaters” just to read the fine print on highway billboards, along with those gigantic headlines on the front page of the New York Post.
At one time, your biggest concern was “Will I ever pay off these #%*!& college loans?!?” But now you’re wondering, “Where the *#&*! did I put those reading glasses?!?”
The situation is more complicated than just a pair of misplaced eyeglasses. In my case, it leads to domestic unrest, with my wife grumbling, “How the heck can you lose your glasses three times a day? Glue them to your nose!” Nevertheless, she’ll stop what she’s doing — usually something important like playing Scrabble on her iPad — and help me look around the house to find them.
Other times, she tries to scare the dickens out of me by saying something like, “You’re misplacing things a lot lately, and I’m starting to worry...” Then, down the rabbit hole we go.
Over the years, I’ve collected at least 45 pairs of readers, no exaggeration. And — no exaggeration — I don’t know where they are, except for the pair I’m wearing now, which leads me to suspect there’s a ring of nearsighted bandits roaming the streets, who have a fencing operation that sells stolen cheaters on Fifth Avenue or in the parking lot of Pearle Vision or LensCrafters. What will they think of next?
On the other hand, this could be one of those Agatha Christie plots, where a guy’s wife wants to make him think he’s losing his marbles (that’s a clinical term) so she can get control of his bank account, not to mention his vintage cribbage boards, so she can get RID of his vintage cribbage boards.
She assures me that’s not the case. Even though I’m prone to exaggeration, let me say in all honesty — or as much honesty as I’m capable of — that we spend a large part of our day searching for reading glasses because when we take them off, we can’t remember where we put them down. This presents an obvious problem, which is this: How can you find a pair of eyeglasses that you lost when you can’t see without them?
A few of my friends suffer from poor vision AND absent-mindedness. Their solution has been to go to Job Lots, Odd Lots, Dollar Store, Dollar General or any of those places where you can buy plastic glasses for $5. They’ll buy 15 pairs and put one in every room, including the closet, the garage and the outhouse.
When my wife picks up after me (that’s a professional term used by mothers, wives and cleaning crews), she puts my glasses somewhere different every time, so she’s probably part of the problem.
I recently bought a cord to keep them around my neck, but that doesn’t seem to work because now I’m losing the glasses along with the cord. I’ve even bought readers with “progressive lens.” That means I don’t have to keep taking them off because they work closeup and for distance. You just have to get used to wearing them all the time and not mind paying $165 for a pair of high-end cheaters.
Then, there’s the Chuck Schumer solution. He always has them hanging off the tip of his nose, especially when there is a photographer around. But I don’t want my official AARP membership card, my passport and my driver’s license to have a picture of me with my reading glasses on the end of my schnozz. That’s great for librarians, tax lawyers and bean counters, but not the rest of us.
The good news is that after 10 minutes of searching, I generally find my glasses on the side of the bed, under papers on my desk, in the bathroom, on the bookcase or in my pocket. It’s just one of the annoying occupational hazards of getting old.
Joe Pisani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.