...before I forget to tell you:
It had been more than five years since I'd had my vision checked, so when my daughter said she needed to get her eyes examined, I went with her.
The beginning of the exam was fairly typical of what I’d experienced in the past. I pushed my face into the giant-goggle machine and rested my chin on the cold metal bar. First, the doctor darkened the room. She looked at the inside of my eyes while I looked first in one direction, then another. She caused little puffs of air to blow onto my eyeballs. Then she asked me to read several rows of letters on the light box on the far wall. That went fairly well.
While the room light was still off, the doctor went to the far end of the room and fiddled with something I couldn’t see. (My face was still pressed into the machine.) When she turned back to me, the following conversation took place:
Doc: “Can you see this?”
What I saw was a large, dark area that almost totally obscured the light box. On the dark area I could see a red rectangle and a neon-green rectangle, both kind of shadowy, and both with something written on them in a large, unfamiliar script.
Doc: “Okay, read what you see.”
Me: “Well, I can see it, but I don't know if I can read it.”
Doc: “Just try to read whatever you can.”
Me: “Okay. ‘You. Are. Something something something. To God.’”
Doc: “Uhhhh, okay, wait a minute.”
She leaned in to the machine and made some adjustments.
Doc: “Okay, let's see if this is better.”
Me: “It’s still not very clear, but I’ll try: ‘You are. Never. Something something to God.’”
At that point the doctor shook her head as if she were totally confused, then turned around to get another look at what I was reading. That’s when she burst out laughing and announced that she’d inadvertently left a cabinet door open. The large, dark shape I saw was the inside of the cabinet door, which opened directly in front of the light box. The red and green rectangles were brightly colored sheets of paper taped to the inside of the door, each one bearing a handwritten affirmation.
Apparently, when I was saying, “You are something something something to God,” the doctor was hearing, “U-R-something-something-something-2-God.” To her, it sounded like letters and numbers. She said later she had thought I must be “blind as a bat,” and she couldn’t imagine why I kept saying “God” after I messed up.
The rest of the exam proceeded normally, except that neither of us could restrain an occasional fit of giggles.