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Me So Kooky

First, the office is really big on this pupil-dilation thing. I know, preventive care blah blah, but it's just never convenient and I hate it, so I declined this time around. And it was a big freaking deal, like, the optometrist's feelings were hurt, and there was this weird pressure to reschedule it for another time. The guy was hissing like an after-school special, "Tryyyy it, you'll liiike it. The first one's freeeee." Then I had my vision exam. This or this? A or B? The usual drill. Except for one thing: I have an ingrown eyelash on my top left lid. The eyelash is a small, flesh-colored lump on the lid, skinned over and not visible unless you are putting makeup on me or getting right up in my face while I tell you what to look for. Which, don't. Get away from me, freak.

Suddenly the eye doctor is pulling at my eyelid, then he's using a cotton-swab thing to keep it in place, then he says, "Hold still," and he grabs some kind of instrument and starts poking. Soon I realize that he is working on the ingrown eyelash. I think about saying, "Hey, you can't get that with tweezers, I tried," but what if he has special optometrist tweezers? What if he has tweezing skills acquired at optometry college? So, I stay quiet and let him poke, even though it hurts like fuck. I can sense that we are not getting anywhere, and the eyelash, though moderately unsightly when viewed in extreme close-up, is not painful and not troublesome and probably should just be left alone. After a few minutes of alarming and unproductive tweezing, the optometrist tosses the tweezers aside and says, "I can't extract that eyelash. If I had a scalpel I could, but I forgot to bring it today. You could see a dermatologist or something, or make another appointment and I'll make sure to have a scalpel here."

(A) He wants to take a scalpel to my eyelid.

(B) If a scalpel had been available, he would have been slicing and dicing faster than you could say "Buñuel film" or "Pixies song" or "Pixies song about a Buñuel film." With no warning or informed consent.

(C) I could go see a "dermatologist or something." (Who's the "something" who would be good at such things? A manicurist? A surgeon? Freddy Krueger?)

(D) The optometrist normally travels with a scalpel! But he forgot to bring it today! Oh, damn, I left my scalpel in my other pants!

I tried to recover from my near-scalpel experience by picking out new eyeglass frames. Flirty eyeglass guy was being helpful with narrowing down my choices, when all of a sudden he said, "You know, I lived in Wicker Park for seven years." We were not talking about neighborhoods but about eyeglass frames, so I'm not sure why he suddenly felt the need to establish his Chicago hipster cred with me. I hope it wasn't his influence, but I did end up with glasses that are even more wacky and cat-eye-shaped than my current ones. I am going to have to calm down and buy some Ann Taylor twin sets and sensible low-heeled loafers soon, because between the crazy glasses and the petticoat skirts, I fear ending up a me-so-kooky self-caricature by the time I'm 35. * * * There are moments when one is hideously aware of race and class differences. Then there are moments when all that stuff gets smoothed out, if only temporarily. I love those smoothed-out moments, which may be why I am such a rabid fan of public transportation -- it is just a little bit harder for cell-phone-yapping jerks to own their privilege when a homeless woman with small twigs in her hair is screaming how Jesus loved vegetables. Yesterday, I was riding home on a crowded train near four middle-aged, South Side black guys, all wearing various forms of blue-collar dress -- work shirts, overalls, hard hats. They seemed tight with each other and were having a loud, lively conversation about the old neighborhood, politics, basketball, and current events. The conversation turned to Michael Jackson and how jaw-droppingly freakish he is, and there was some amusing speculation on how long he would last in prison. Then:

Guy #1: I heard he was even messing with disabled kids.

Chorus Of Guys: No way! That's sick!

Guy #1: I mean, it's bad enough to be messing with kids, but messing with disabled kids? He be getting them out of their wheelchairs and shit? Touching their little bald cancer heads? Oh, damn, it makes me sick.

Me (trying really, really hard not to laugh): ...

Guy #1 (looking at me, also starting to laugh): Am I right? Isn't that sick? Michael Jackson messing with disabled kids?

Me: Oh, it's sick. You got that right.

Guy #1: Disabled kids. Damn.

Then we were both laughing, for hard-to-explain reasons, and soon it was my stop and we exchanged first names and he called me "baby girl" and told me to have a good day, and I wished him the same, and it was just a nice little stranger-bonding moment. It is slightly unfortunate that the nice little stranger-bonding moment took place in the context of the alleged sexual abuse of disabled children by a bat-shit-insane, hideously deformed skeleton of a multimillionaire, but there you go.


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