I was good at school. I took it seriously. My brothers were both athletes; one a runner and one a thrower. When I would arrive at a new school, the PE teachers would see my name on the student list and no doubt hope for greater athletic glory. When they eventually saw me, squinting, as thin as an excuse, and with little interest in running fast or throwing far, their respective looks of disappointment were identical. I wonder if they get taught that at gym-teacher school.
In high school, there was a Records Board in the gym, showing the various athletics records going back many years. I walked in to that gym, ten and six years after my brothers had passed through the same doors, and their names were still on that board.
I did not trouble the scorers during my 5 years as a student there.
I could not compete against them at sports, and that bothered me as we were quite a competitive family. Games of Scrabble went unfinished as one of us refused to play because “Tuffy” was most definitely a word. My dad would gleefully bankrupt us all at Monopoly. Even watching TV, we were competing to get the first and sharpest dig in to whoever had the nerve to show up on our screen.
I did OK with the sarcasm. I was better at getting grades. Until even my body started competing against me.
In middle school I was not short-sighted. I just want to make that clear right from the beginning. Whatever you may have heard, in middle school, my vision was close to perfect.
I also wasn’t already losing my hair, but that’s a subject for another day.
So, middle school, perfect vision. The only thing is, I sat too far away from the board. They put the blackboard too far from where they placed my chair. I sometimes made mistakes. For a homework, I spent hours trying to come up with an opposite for “transport”, for example, when the actual word was “transparent”.
The answer is not “opaque,” fellow nitpickers, no matter what that English teacher might have thought.
So, I had a distance problem, I knew, not an eyesight problem.
And remember, this is Back In The Day when we had dirty stinking socialist healthcare in the Old Country – nanny-state interfering busy-bodies that would force their way into public schools and forcibly make young children take health tests and treat any problems they found for free.
So, this is how I find myself standing at one end of a long corridor while a lady in a white coat and a large cardboard eye-test chart walks way past halfway and then stops. She spins dramatically, hair spinning from her head like rays of light from the Sun, she strikes a dramatic pose and then brandishes her eye test at me, the trapped rabbit in her headlights.
(That last bit was a poor and transparent attempt to sex-up a short walk up a corridor.)
The lady, who now looks like Black Widow in my imagination, says, “Tell me which letters you can see on the sign.”
I pause. I squint. Finally, I say, “What sign?”
So, yeah, maybe a little short-sighted. And then I got glasses, free-to-me thick-lensed monstrosities, and my world became very different. Much less blurry, for example.
And my road to inevitable world dominance now lay out before me.