Peter McKay Tue Aug 21, 3:00 AM ET
Creators Syndicate -
My wife has beautiful blue eyes. But when we first met in college, she wore glasses so big and thick it looked like she'd cut off the bottoms of two drinking glasses and glued them onto her face. She didn't wear them very often (we never would have gone out) because she had contacts that she wore 90 percent of the time. In that brief period between glasses and contacts at the beginning and end of the day, though, she'd feel her way across the room like she'd lost her seeing-eye dog.
I used to kid her, telling her that her spectacles were so thick and powerful she ought to be able to tell me what was going to happen tomorrow. But her icy stares, magnified by Coke bottles, let me know she didn't appreciate my humor. Over the years I learned that making fun of her glasses was a good way to reserve a spot in the spare bedroom.
Then, a few years ago, my 40s hit me like a freight train with no brakes. My eyes started going, and the newspaper, first the small type and then even the headlines, became blurrier and blurrier. I found myself buying, and losing, reading glasses every time I turned around. In the end, I decided to get fitted for a pair of bifocals, an old-fashioned pair that wrapped around my ears, that I couldn't lose.
Now that I was the four-eyes in the family, it was open season. My wife started calling me "Grandpa" and "Ol' Man," and asked me if I needed her to cut up my food for me. It was particularly aggravating, seeing as I'd held my fire all those years, but to tell you the truth, I was just too old and tired to come up with a decent comeback.
Then, about six months ago, my wife started rubbing her eyes over her morning coffee, squinting at the newspaper and complaining about the lighting in our kitchen. Because I'm a better person than she is, I refrained from any smart aleck comments or zingers, and just told her that she was experiencing exactly what I had gone through a couple of years earlier. I even gently offered to let her borrow my bifocals.
She didn't want to admit that she needed to go to the eye doctor, but she went out and bought herself "Dollar Store" reading glasses by the dozen and stashed them at strategic places around the house. In the mornings before she'd had a chance to put in her contacts, she'd wear her regular glasses with her reading glasses on top and tilt her head back to see. Still, I said hardly a word because I am (if I haven't mentioned it before) the better person.
This past weekend we were in the car, taking an overnight trip, and my wife realized that she'd left all of her reading glasses at home. I offered to turn around, but she refused, saying that while I may need them, she surely didn't.
Before we checked in to our hotel, we stopped by one of those bath and body shops so my wife could get some bubble bath, another thing she'd forgotten to pack.
As she stood in line at the counter waiting to pay, she picked up a sample tube from the display, smelled it and rubbed a big gob of it all over her hands. As the cashier rang up the bubble bath, my wife kept rubbing and finally frowned at me.
"This lotion is too oily," she said. "I don't know how anyone could use it!"
The cashier looked up. "That's because it's hair conditioner, ma'am," she said with a polite smile.
The cashier led my wife over to a sink and allowed her to clean up, while I looked at the label through my Ol' Man bifocals, read it clearly and, being the better person, didn't say anything.
Back at the hotel the next morning, my wife was getting a shower and I was brushing my teeth, when suddenly she pulled the curtain aside and held out a small bottle.
"Can you check the label to see what brand this is," she asked. "This conditioner is not coming out of my hair, and I've been rinsing it forever!"
I put on my bifocals and squinted at the bottle.
"That's because," I said, wishing I weren't such a good person, "this time you actually are using hand lotion!"
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