This morning, I dropped my contact lens in the sink, and it took me no less than 10 minutes to find it. Yes, the lens is transparent, making it difficult to find, but the thing about losing your contact is that you don’t have the working eyes to find it.
I have been in glasses since first grade. Back when I was a child, my dad, whom I’ve only ever known in glasses, said not to worry. My eyesight could never be as bad as his. By junior high, I had doubled his prescription.
The good thing about poor eyesight is how remarkably fixable it all seems. When I lived in Los Angeles, the only time I thought about my poor eyesight was when I’d consider the possibility of having an earthquake in the middle of the night. If my glasses fell off the bedside table during the Big One, how would I be able to navigate my way to safety? Would I be able to tell the difference between a helpful neighbor and a charging coyote among the rubble? I considered getting laser eye surgery. Problem solved. This was ignoring, of course, that I’d just been through hypothetical earthquake devastation. But one fantasized tragedy at a time.
Then we moved. We also learned that my son is legally blind in his left eye. No glasses or laser eye surgery could make that eye see the charging coyote (or helpful neighbor). Upon learning that, my irritation at my own prescription suddenly felt obnoxiously privileged. Both of my eyes see 20/20 when my contacts are in. That is, when I don’t drop them into the sink.
Lately, my writing partner and I have been pitching around a kids show about a girl living among the first Homo sapiens. The show is a joke, blending much of our world today with life in prehistoric times. But for as slapstick and silly as the subject matter is, I find myself oddly overridden with anxiety. I would not have survived in the Stone Age. I would have run to hug my mother, only to discover she was a saber-toothed tiger. I’m guessing this embrace wouldn’t have ended well. A prehistoric world without glasses would have been a world in which I would have met an early demise. Survival of the fittest, with me being unfit.
I’m also unfit exercise-wise. I’ve always been a slow runner, and I’d surely be even slower if I couldn’t see anything in my path. You might be thinking, “Oh, but the women didn’t need to run back then, because they weren’t on the hunt. They were home, picking berries.” Well, it just so happens I also have trouble seeing different colors, so I’d have been the woman feeding all the children the poisonous purple berries instead of the nutritional red berries. My entire clan would have been in danger. My writing partner asks me why our new project has me in stress knots.
“Berry Bees,” an animated children’s show I wrote and developed, just came out in Australia and Europe. It’s about three kid spies who go undercover to defeat evildoers. That storyline never had me worrying about whether I, too, could survive an evil villain with a laser or an evil villain with a memory evaporator or an evil villain who traps me in a gold mine.
I tell my writing partner that obviously, I didn’t get stressed out when writing those scenarios because I am not the type of person who would ever be recruited by a spy agency. Duh. So I would not find myself in those situations.
“Blimey, you suddenly find yourself a time machine and think you’re gonna find yourself with a mammoth soon?” asks my writing partner. He’s British. And rude. And right. Maybe it’s easier to entertain the anxieties that aren’t likely.
My son asks me whether I think he could have survived in prehistoric times with his blind eye. I tell him he could have. We didn’t even know about his eye for three years because his good eye had compensated for it so well. His good eye can see 20/20. He’s also a fast runner.
“Then I’ll save you in cave man times, Mama,” my 7-year-old says.
This is why we have children. For the anxiety-reducing sweetness. And to thoroughly confuse them as to what era we’re living through.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book “Stop Farting in the Pyramids.”