Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Second Sight

The teacher announced that he usually wears glasses but prefers to see the class as a blur so he isn’t distracted by faces. I admire him for that. In the same way, a hearing-impaired person develops more visual acuity. The senses have their own compensations

I’m beginning to think that’s how I’ve gone through life; seeing the world askew. My astigmatism turns me inward, illuminates my inner world.

Now he has me bound to a chair in a pitch black room. The walls are closing in and he’s in my face going over everything I say, every letter,backwards and forward, looking for inconsistencies. “Come clean, Levine, first you said this and now that.”

I can’t keep my story straight. With teary eyes I break down, admit my life of crime; road rage, tax returns, college cheating, return trips to the salad bar, the unspeakable acts in my room. (It’s a wonder I didn’t go blind).

Suddenly the lights go on. The optometrist says, “No prescription change” as if he didn’t hear a thing I’d said.”

In a moment of malicious mischief my wife said to close my eyes and describe what hung on the wall across from the couch. It could have been worse. She could have asked me what she was wearing or the color of the wallpaper we don’t have. I was getting off easy;Only the wall which had become invisible from familiarity not unlike my own face which I might not recognize if I met myself in a crowded elevator. I bumbled my way through with some lucky guesses but missed two African masks and a Oaxacan wood carved lizard.

I am not a reliable witness. At a police line-up once I picked the desk sergeant. (The man with the gun in my face had gained eight inches in my mind). Everyone looks like someone else to me particularly in British movies where I’m constantly losing bets to my entrepreneurial wife who has come to rely on my astigmatism as a revenue source.

By now I’ve grown emotionally attached to my faulty vision. I must be seeing something, after all. Maybe life is a collage, a running joke, a diffused gladness and part of the colorless air I breathe which I’d surely recognize if it wasn’t there.

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