By SHARON LOVE COOK
(50PLUSWIRE) One late summer afternoon, with dusk settling in, I entered my dining room and spotted my cat perched on the table’s edge. “Hi kitty,” I said, placing my hand on her head. Imagine my surprise when, instead of soft fur, my hand rested on hard plastic. I’d mistaken a fan for my cat!
In my defense, the room was dim, and Chiquita was in the spot normally occupied by a black Blo-Blaster fan, approximately her size. Still, I felt foolish and a little worried.
During my annual visit to my ophthalmologist, he’d mentioned cataract surgery, which I’d dismissed. That was an “old folks’” procedure. Despite being a baby boomer, my vision wasn’t that bad.
Yet it wasn’t the first time my eyes had tricked me. One morning I’d prepared a bowl of granola. Along with assorted nuts, sesame and sunflower seeds, I sprinkled dried cranberries from a packet. While eating the granola, I noticed the printing on the packet.
Without glasses, the words were a blur. But that day I saw, below the Dried Sweetened Cranberries, the words: Salad Toppings. Listed in finer print were other ingredients: bacon bits, parsley, dried onion and garlic flakes.
How long had I been sprinkling garlic on my granola? It had tasted pretty good. Maybe I was better off not knowing. Ignorance is bliss, as they say.
Did this make me a candidate for eye surgery? Bacon bits wasn’t the only example of my confusion. Not long after that, I mistook Crunchy Peanut Butter Bites (for humans) with Lovin’ Pets Beef Chew Treats (for dogs). Both were in white-and-gold foil packages in my cupboard, but that’s where the similarity ended.
The beef chew treats tasted nothing like the crunchy peanut butter bites. Didn’t smell like them either. I didn’t need glasses to know that.
One month later I was fooled again. I was at a rental cottage in Maine that had a dark interior, particularly the bathroom. I took my cosmetics case into a bedroom where the light was somewhat better. I always forget something when I go away — this time it was moisturizer. Rummaging through the case for a substitute, I found a tube of something that smelled good. I squeezed some into my palm and smeared it over my face. Immediately my eyes stung, and I lurched around in search of my glasses. Upon finding them, I discovered I’d covered my face with peppermint toothpaste gel.
It was a poor substitute for moisturizer, although the tingle had felt good on my skin.
Despite my trepidation, I knew it was time to talk cataract surgery. But first, I had to state my opinions regarding the new, specialized “designer” lenses. I told my ophthalmologist I was not a “high-def” person. I didn’t like it in TV, video or photos. I don’t want to see people’s pores or bright, glaring color. I’d rather continue seeing the world in sepia tones, like the photographs in my late Finnish grandmother’s family album.
He had no doubt heard this before. He explained how our lenses yellow with age. Replacing the old with a specialized lens enables patients to see “true” color, as we once did. Without surgery, “It only gets worse,” he said.
Thus I had the operations: the right eye first, and, one month later, the left. Afterward, I uttered all the cliché responses about the vibrant new world I was experiencing. I’m still amazed.
Yesterday, at the supermarket, I took off my glasses in order to read a label’s fine print. I felt bionic! And, needless to say, my cat is no longer in danger of being mistaken for a fan. MSN
Sharon Love Cook of Beverly, Massachusetts, is the author of the Granite Cove Mysteries (Come for the chowder, stay for the murder.) Contact her at [email protected]