Ramblings From an Apathetic Adult Baby

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My Eye Was Diagnosed As Lazy, But He Might Just Be Trying To Find Himself

“Usually only see this in children,” Dr. Richardson said, his words trailing off, like I owed him an explanation.

 

“I’m…sorry?” I felt my face grow hot and my forehead crinkle.

 

“Don’t squint, please.”

 

He moved the penlight from left to right while I tried to follow it.

 

“Tell me about your right eye—do you coddle it?” My mouth went dry and I felt the full brunt of his judgment. I kind of looked away, but not all at once. “You coddle it,” he said, “I can tell.” His words took on an edge. “You let it shy away from life’s challenges—let it cling to its parasitic pampered existence. You’re an enabler,” his nostril flared and his lips tightened, “just like my wife.”

 

Dr. Richardson pointed at the family photo below his degree. His wife stood, poised, between a restless Dr. Richardson and their brooding adult son.

Eye chart

“Anytime you’re reading something far away or firing a weapon, you use your good eye?” he asked, “the left one: the alpha?”

 

I wasn’t much of a reader, distant signs or otherwise, though I supposed I did favor my left eye for Big Buck Hunter. Dr. Richardson heard this and deflated in a sigh, clearly his definition of “a firearm” or “reading something” was not so broad. The eye patch, he continued, was still the standard treatment. I was skeptical and asked if optometry often resorted to public shaming.

 

“No, the eye patch goes on your left eye, your golden boy. That right eye—Goofus—needs to learn to fend for himself in the real world. To do something of value with his life instead of just moping, going through the motions and expecting to ‘get discovered’ for his films.” His penlight was whipped into the corner, somewhere between five and thirty feet away. “Of course you want him to be happy, that’s beside the point. You’re his father, for God’s sake, but he needs to develop a marketable skill set.”

 

“I think he’ll find his way; maybe take a gap year. My left eye’s an excellent role model. Like you said: Golden Boy.”

 

“Have you ever been to a student film festival?” He said, cutting me off before I could tell him that my right eye had been planning our trip to Bonnaroo, though had been vague about who would be paying. “Motivate that right eye to succeed now. Set attainable goals. Don’t indulging his laziness or you’ll be the one sitting through these all-weekend affairs of pretentious nonsense with barely any non-ironic laughs.”

 

It hit me and I felt paralyzed. Where had I gone wrong, was it when I’d let him watch Clockwork Orange, or, maybe, when I took him to visit the sawdust factory? Was a lazy eye a product of lazy parenting?

 

“You shell out one-hundred-and-fifty thousand for him to go to film school, for him to live in New York. Money for his cell phone so he can pester you and his mother every time he needs more money. You know, it’s uncanny, he knows the exact tone that’ll get my wife to wire him anything he needs, for rent, or for a new camera, or for a PlayStation.”

 

I wanted to leave. There was a waiting room with two or three kids still knocking into things and ignoring the old issues of Highlights. The humiliation had worked and all I wanted was to get my unintentionally shameful eye patch and drive home without depth perception.

 

Apparently, his wife thought the son had some talent. Apparently, his wife also liked a lot of things that were just pure garbage.

 

“Please, just give me the eye patch.” I said and Dr. Richardson saw, at least in Golden Boy, the effectiveness of his words, that I’d been scared straight and could hope to one day, also, see straight.

 

 

 

 

 

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