On or around your 40th birthday, the written word fades away. At the same time, your arms become shorter. Friends and family make snide remarks when asked to read the menus out loud. To avoid these unpleasantries, you must resort to the same solution used by your grandparents: Bifocals. And if you inherited the right gene, or spend hours staring at a computer monitor, you might even be forced into another layer called trifocals.
This is one of the most visible signs of having one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. Trifocals mean you are old, man. But here is the good news: Great technological advances have been made to satisfy the blind and the vain. You can now buy these glasses without the horizontal Venetian blind look. They are called progressive lenses. Anyone looking at me will note I do not own a pair.
To be fair, I tried them. They made me dizzy. They gave me a headache. My peripheral vision was blurry unless I rocked my head up and down like a horse on a short rein. I went back to the store. It turns out the salespeople have heard these complaints before.
“Point your nose directly at what you want to see,” they advised. “In a few weeks you will adapt to them. “
Now, this seems to be a fine example of getting people to adapt to the product, rather than the other way around. Hurray for the manufacturer, who got us all to point our noses in the same direction. But when I am out walking, I really want to know if I am about to be creamed by an SUV without having to point my nose at it like a good retriever.
After a few more dizzying descents down our front stairs, I exchanged my new progressive lenses for the kind you can actually see through.
“A non-adapt,” the store owner pronounced. That did not sound good. I consoled myself with a decision to buy new frames.
I perused the display, and picked up a purple pair with lenses shaped in a gentle oval. The saleslady rushed over.
“Only old people wear those”, she hissed, “Don’t even think about buying them!”
I had to promise not to, just to try them on. Sure enough, they were light, airy and comfortable. I had to think about this. The eighty-year olds the saleslady so dreaded were the same people who survived World War II, the Holocaust, the dropping of the first atom bomb, Korea, Vietnam, terrorism, and clothing malfunctions. That said something about choices and the people who made them. It made me think the 80 year olds wearing these glasses might be on to something.
I left the store, but am looking forward to the day when I am 80 and still looking out at the world through a pair of purple trifocals. Being old and still smiling at a cruel world is an attitude worth adapting to.