As all of you well know, I really like to make good grades on tests. My therapist thinks that it’s because I’m always looking for approval and self-validation. My friends say it’s because I’m an overly competitive super-geek. Both observations are likely correct.
It is for this reason that I’m always a little nervous about going to see the eye doctor. A trip to have your vision checked at the eye doctor’s office is always full of tests that you have no idea if you’re passing or failing. In fact, the tests are designed that way on purpose so that you don’t say things that you think are the “right” answers. But tests that don’t have right answers are the kinds of tests that make people like me, people with Winning Complexes, break out into cold sweats. One of the tests I was subjected to today was prefaced with these instructions: “Look in here, and press this button any time you see a ‘wavy blur.’”
I wanted to jump back and be like, “WAIT JUST A MINUTE.” Because, a wavy blur? What the hell is a wavy blur? And how was I supposed to recognize something that vague?! I mean, if I didn’t even know what I was looking for, I could have failed the test just because her “wavy blur” criteria were different than my wavy blur criteria! I was seconds away from an wavy blurred existential crisis when I saw the first wavy blur in my peripheral vision. Then I was like, “Oh, yeah, that looks just like a wavy blur. It’s cool.”
But as we progressed through the test, I realized that as soon as I clicked the button that signified that I recognized a wavy blur, the wavy blur would vanish. Sometimes another one appeared immediately in a different place. Other times, there would be a 2-3 second pause before the next wavy blur showed up. As soon as I realized that there was a variation in the time between the wavy blurs, I started to psych myself out. I sat there wondering if there really wasn’t a time variation, but in fact, the times when I thought there wasn’t a wavy blur there really WAS one, but it was just one I wasn’t seeing because I was FAILING THE WAVY BLUR TEST MISERABLY, AND NOT EVEN BECAUSE THE EYE DOCTOR’S NURSE AND I HAVE DIFFERENT INHERENT DEFINITIONS OF THE TERM “WAVY BLUR.”
I never got any answers. As soon as the nerve-wrecking Wavy Blur test was over, we ran through a few other “no wrong answer” kind of tests, and then nurse sent me back to the waiting room where I was forced to contemplate my probable failure, and what life was going to be like when I had to learn how to read braille and navigate busy intersections with my blind-person cane. I moped because Zack was the one to always chose to be blind when faced with the classic “Would You Rather” scenario of Blind vs. Deaf, but I always chose deaf! And now I was sitting in a waiting room, sure that I was going to be told that I was an incompetent wavy blur identifier and should go ahead and get to work on my Vision Bucket List.
From there I was ushered into the Eye Doctor Hot Seat, where they put you into a dark room with a giant machine that sits right in front of your face and you get asked the same question over and over again, never knowing if you’re getting it right or wrong. “Tell me which one is clearer, this, or this?” the doctor always asks as he flips back and forth between two lenses with differences so minute that no human can detect a difference between them. I sat there and squirmed in my seat. “They both suck?” I’d say, hoping for some kind of validation that I was on the right track. The doctor would confirm my sentiments, but then gracefully force me to make a choice. “Yes,” he’d say, “but does one suck slightly worse than the other?” This is like asking me to tell you which I prefer more between Homer’s Iliad or Homer’s Odyssey. I can’t compare them. To me, they are both the same, and they are both terrible. But the Eye Doctor doesn’t care about my philosophical and literary ramblings. He just wants me to pick A or B. “This, or this?”
Just when you have reached the brink of insanity, it all ends. The doctor finally says, “Okay, how’s this look?” as he pops two lenses down that bring the whole world into crystal clear focus. Life makes sense again. You get the feeling that everything is going to be okay. You even forget about your devastating (possible) failure of the wavy line test until a week later when the UPS man shows up with the cane you ordered from amazon.com while you were in the waiting room.