Maybe it’s the way I’ve been brought up, but there aren’t many things that I envy about other people.
Like, whenever I see someone driving around in a fabulous car, I don’t think, Gee, I wish I had that. Instead, I think about what how much the COE must have cost.
Or when I see a couple strolling through the park with their three little children, I don’t see a Hallmark moment – I see temper tantrums before bed and furniture that is no longer white. And, when, at a party, I sit next to someone who tells me about the wonderful time she had in New York, all I can think of is the horrific 40 hours it took to get there and back on a crowded, germ-filled plane.
“Really?” Amanda asked. “That’s what you think about?”
I shrugged. “It’s a gift.”
Amanda didn’t look convinced. “I bet your mother is at the root of all this.”
And now that I think about it, she probably is. I remember once when I was about seven, I complained to my mother that all my friends got dropped off at school by their drivers.
“Why do I have to take the bus?” I whined.
“Darling, when you make as much money as your daddy does, you can have Driver drop you off wherever you want. Do you make as much money as Daddy does?”
Even as a seven-year old, I could recognise a rhetorical question when I saw one and that was that.
Anyway, my point is, when that’s the kind of response you get whenever you want something, eventually, you get the message that you should just be happy with what you’ve got.
Except…I’ve always wanted perfect vision. I am cursed by myopia. I started wearing spectacles when I was five and by the time I was twenty, my short-sightedness was 1100 with 300 astigmatism.
“Oh my God, you’re legally blind!” Saffy said to me when we were waiting for a Lasik consultation some years back.
“Why do you think I’m so bitter?” I told her. “I can’t do any sport. I can never see what the hairdresser is doing to my hair…”
Saffy breathed out. “Ah, that explains things…” she murmured.
“I have to wear glasses even in the bathroom,” I went on smartly. “It’s awful!”
So, I had my Lasik operation and it was like one of those YouTube videos of hearing-impaired people who can suddenly hear, except in my case, I could now see. Saffy actually cried watching my expression as I sat up on the clinic bed and stared around in utter amazement. The next morning, I opened my eyes in the morning and instead of seeing blobs, I saw every crack in my ceiling. It was nothing short of a miracle.
Of course, it wasn’t twenty-twenty vision. The doctor muttered something about under-correction. I didn’t care. I felt like Superman.
Then a few days ago, when I was buying shampoo at Guardian, I saw someone try on a pair of black glasses and he had the same look as the YouTube videos. After he marched off to the cashier with two pairs, I drifted over. Vision Therapy Eyewear, said the sign over the stand. There was no glass, just black plastic with lots of tiny holes.
I slipped it on and looked around. Then I took it off, blinking. And put it back on. Then I took it off and looked at it. And put it back on.
I bought five pairs and rushed home.
That night, I gave a pair to Sharyn whose myopia is legendary even amongst optometrists who’ve seen it all.
“What is this, ah?” she said, turning the spectacles around.
“Take off your glasses and wear it this instant!” I instructed.
“You look like that Cyclops character in X-Men, Shazz!” Saffy said. “What’s the matter, why are you crying? Oh my God, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it, I…”
Sharyn waved Saffy into silence. She turned to me. “What is this? How come I can see so much better?” Tears streamed down her cheeks beneath the black frame.
“I have no idea! But it’s absolutely amazing! There’s no prescription glass but everything is so clear! I got it at Guardian!”
“Aiyoh, why no one tell me earlier?” Sharyn moaned.
“How does this even work?” Amanda said who was wearing a pair I’d given her. “It’s just got holes in it but I can see all the way to the other end of this restaurant! This is just incredible!”
“Hannor!” Sharyn said. “I oh-so say!”
“I’m so jealous you guys are all short-sighted,” Saffy pouted. “I feel so left out!”