‘Is that better or worse?’

I like a test. You might go so far as to say I love a test (I came home from an induction day at my secondary school bitterly disappointed they didn’t set any homework, so that tells you all you need to know about my nerdiness). But there is a test I fear. A test that makes me go strangely goosepimply. The eye test.

It’s like all the worst social awkwardness wrapped up in half an hour of squinting. And, worst of all, it’s a test I routinely fail.

Why am I being a big baby about a ‘harmless’ trip to the optician? Fine, I’ll tell you:

  • It’s dark, the lights are dimmed, the room is hushed and a face moves slowly towards you. Closer and closer it gets, just inches away. You hold your breath. Your heart races. ‘Are they?’ you think giddily, ‘Are they going to kiss me?’ No, you egomaniac, they are just looking at the back of your eye.
  • Some small part of me can’t believe those huge plastic frames with all the slots and twiddly arms aren’t just a huge joke to help pass the optician’s time of day. Imagine, they laugh in the staff room, she actually thought it was part of the eye test! Ha! (I wonder if opticians have a word for the poorly-sighted, like wizards call people Muggles in the Harry Potter books. Gogglers? Squintoids?)
  • ‘Is it the green light? Or the red? A? Or B? Which is clearer?’ I DON’T KNOW! MY RUBBISH VISION IS THE REASON I’M HERE! Don’t look to me for the answers – help me!
  • You’ve never known terror until someone else puts contact lenses in your eyes.
  • If you don’t want me to blink as the puff of air is shot into my eye, perhaps don’t tell me you’re about to shoot my eye with a puff of air. Just a suggestion. It’s like saying, ‘Don’t move your foot away because I’m about to tread on it.’

At yet without all this awkwardness and the health professionals that distribute it, I’d be putting Bisto in my chocolate cake mixture and lining my eyes with a Berol pen. It’s grin and bare it time, I suppose… Or, more accurately, read it and weep. 

C x

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