The dreaded B word

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The aging process sometimes has a way of sneaking up on a guy, jumping out and yelling, “Boo!”
For instance, it was shocking the first time a person who was younger than I called me sir. My initial reaction was, “Who the heck is he talking to?” My second reaction was, “Oh my gosh. Am I that old?”
I clearly recall how, when I was young, certain people were automatically addressed as sir or ma’am. These people were members of the geezer demographic and thus deserved to be denoted as such. In short, calling someone sir or ma’am wasn’t so much a sign of respect as it was a way of saying “Ha, ha. You’re old, and I’m not!”
The aging process has again jumped out and smacked me right between the eyes. Well, that isn’t exactly the case; it would be more accurate to say it smacked me square in both eyes.
I began to notice, with no small amount of alarm, that things were beginning to appear blurry when I read. This isn’t a problem when I’m using my computer as I can make the fonts so big that everything is absolutely huge, and it looks like the computer is shouting.
But printed materials such as newspapers were a whole other story. You don’t have the option of changing the font size in a physical newspaper. This left me no choice but to read over the tops of my glasses.
What’s the big deal, you might ask. The big deal is that reading over the tops of your glasses simply screams old geezer. This behavior is usually associated with such verifiably old, staunchly strait-laced and unfun people as Supreme Court justices and Mrs. Schultz, my erstwhile high school librarian.
Mrs. Schultz was so stern and severe that a single glance shot over the tops of her glasses had the power to stop a rowdy high school linebacker dead in his tracks with enough force leftover to stun a couple of nearby varsity basketball players. I did not want to begin to look like Mrs. Schultz.
With this thought in mind, I went to see my optometrist to have him take a peek at my peepers. To have my eyeballs eyeballed, so to speak.
My friendly local vision physician examined my eyes then made a strange comment regarding my religious affiliation.
“I am a life-long Lutheran,” I replied. “I have never had anything to do with any of the various Protestant churches that are governed by presbyters and are traditionally Calvinist in doctrine.”
“That’s not what I said,” he replied gently. “I said that you have presbyopia, the inability of the eye to focus sharply on nearby objects, resulting from loss of elasticity of the crystalline lens with advancing age.”     
I agree that my memories of this conversation might sound as if they were lifted directly from Wikipedia. This happens to me a lot, especially when I need to look up a word in the midst of writing a column.
But the good doctor had saved the worst for last. Specifically, he dropped the dreaded B word.
Bifocals! The horrors! I might as well have the words “hopeless old geezer” tattooed across my forehead.
My eye doctor held out hope for salvation in the form of no-line bifocals. I knew they cost extra, but I would pay anything to avoid those decidedly uncool glasses that have those weird halfmoon areas at the bottom of the lenses. Lenses that make it appear you’re wearing chunks of glass that had been polished by an OCD chimpanzee.
I found myself actually looking forward to getting bifocals. Maybe I would be able to see around corners. Perhaps those specs I ordered from a comic book all those years ago would finally arrive and I would have X-ray vision and be able to see through skin and clothes. What fun.
But alas, none of these new superpowers came with my new lenses. The only novel ability I gained came to light when I looked down and swung my head from side to side. Whenever I do that, the ground below me distorts and bends as if it’s being viewed in a funhouse mirror.
Maybe I could use this as an excuse for my congenital klutziness, such as when I walk across the room and trip over a paper clip. But I doubt if I would survive the look my wife would shoot at me from over the tops of her glasses.
    Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, South Dakota. He and his wife, Julie, have two grown sons and live on the farm where Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded over 110 years ago. Jerry works full time for Dairy Star as a staff writer and ad salesman. Feel free to email him at jerry.n@dairystar.com.

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