Sep 9, 2008

Growing Old Is Hard To Do

Oh, I know parts of getting older is easy—it mostly involves avoiding dying and the rest takes care of itself, sort of like growing a Bromeilad only with less water. Parts of growing old, however, are damned difficult, not to mention expensive.

Looking back over my years of being a wage earner (and spender of same) I can see a distinct, nay, say instead “mountainous” climb in the cost of being me. When I was a kid of 18, my biggest expense was paying my $10 a month Sears card bill and saving like a fiend for an astronomically expensive pair of Sony 6x9 speakers for my car. The price tag? A staggering $100.

Now granted at the time the minimum wage was a whopping $3.35 an hour, so $100 was pretty extravagant, not to mention distant, but still and all, spending a C-note on anything other than a car was heady stuff.

Now? Now I have a cellular phone bill that’s higher than that a month, not to mention the credit cards. I buy vehicles with price tags that would have left that eighteen-year old me’s jaw hanging. With time and increased wages and just plain old being exposed to inflation and economic conditions we grow accustomed to having it broken off in us. Yesterday, though, it really stung.

I lost my glasses.

I don’t ordinarily lose things. My actual behaviour is a polar opposite from that—I’m a pack rat who knows where most all his pack-ratted things are, even years later. I’ve still got cellular phones the size of car batteries (and their attendant chargers) even though the companies that hosted them are long extinct. I keep things, you see, “just in case.” Glasses are no exception. I’ve got the last two pair of glasses I’ve owned, even though I’ve not been able to wear them for the past six years or so. When I barely wore them I couldn’t lose them if I tried. Now that I genuinely NEED them (see my post on Bifocals) I’ve lost them.

Completely and utterly.

I remember walking toward the back door with them. I remember cleaning them on my shirt-tail. The next thing I remember is realizing I needed them some twenty minutes later because outside was awfully blurred. I spent an hour walking around, squinting. I walked through the house, squinting. I walked the yard where I had cut, squinting. I walked all over, everywhere, eyes crunched down like a cartoon Oriental. I even got the refugee-in-laws to help (no squinting required,) to no avail. No spectacles, other than the one I was making of myself.

So, I gave in. My head already hurts from not having them, I can no longer just not wear glasses if I don’t want to, so I drove down to my optometrist’s office yesterday to order a new pair and, as I found out soon enough, to have it broken off in me. Deep.

My insurance, you see, doesn’t cover a second pair of glasses if it’s been less than one year. Now, I didn’t need another exam. I didn’t buy any sort of swank, unbreakable titanium and carbon fibre frames. Nothing with a brand name; no Izod or Tommy or Gucci. Plain as milk. The exact same frames as last time, actually, only with complete frames instead of the half-frames I’d gotten last time, so they were slightly cheaper. I got the scratch-resistance coating because I’m rough with glasses even when I’m trying to be careful. I also got the progressive lenses because I think seeing that little ‘extra’ lens there in the bottom might drive me over the edge. In other words, I got exactly what I got the last time.

The price tag, however, was markedly higher this time. I got hit to the tune of $400 +. After the paramedics had gotten my heartbeat stabilized and my breathing back to normal I stumbled back to the car (squinting) and sat there and wept. Four hundred dollars. Four. Hundred. For a damned pair of glasses with frames so thin you can barely see the metal. Four hundred dollars that I simply don’t have.

Why didn’t anyone ever warn me that getting old was going to be so damned EXPENSIVE?


Clowncar said...

I lose my reading glasses roughly every three hours. Happily, they're $10 a pop, and so almost disposable.


meno said...

OOohhh, that really hurts! I dread the day when i will need to purchase bifocals.

Nancy Dancehall said...

Ouch ouch ouch. I blame Gustav.

My wedding ring met the same fate 4 years ago on a walk around the yard with two toddlers who liked to pick mommy's pockets. I'd taken it off earlier so it wouldn't get dirty while I was working in the garden. It still hasn't been replaced. Which is ok, I guess, except for the time a waitress started treating me coldly for no apparent reason, and afterwords I realized it was because O had a ring on and I didn't, and you can guess what THAT looked like...

But I can still see! though I think that has more to do with my contacts...

Joan of Argghh! said...

Aw man, that sucks! I have $400 reading glasses. I don't need a scrip, but I work at a computer all day and night, so have UV-protection, graduated bifocals that are merely two different magnifications for computer distance and close ups. Worth every penny, cuz the 8.00 WalMarts never provide the protection and comfort. No head-bobbing and nose-perching lenses trying to move thru my day. They last me for years and years, however, so I guess it evens out.

Irrelephant said...

CC, you deserve a good beating for that, you do. *g* I'd kill to be able to simply toss away my glasses at will.

Oh wait, seems I did just that. *gnashing my teeth*

meno, hopefully it won't come soon. I didn't know this but there are different 'levels' of bifocal quality, and once you pick a certain level you can only go up, not back down.

Nancy, that sounds like an EXCELLENT idea! So the waitress got all snippy, eh? Sounds like you were dining in the deep south! *lol* Did you short her tip?

Joan, I have the feeling that mine would last me years too, if I could just hang on to the damned things. *s* I was taking SUCH good care of them...right up until I lost them.

Sounds like James Brown on the witness stand:

"Mr. Brown, did you ever hit your wife?"
"Only when she need it, Yo' Honor."

Daisy said...

Oh, I just paid near that for my first pair of progressive frames. I'm sad to leave the $10 readers behind (or, on the right day at Target, $1 -- wahoo!)

I've had them three days and am terrified of losing them. The irony about losing glasses is, as you note, that if you can't see, it's hard to look for them!

[On Nancy's comment, I sometimes wonder if I'm picking up on attitude from people b/c I have two kids and no wedding ring -- if they think I'm one of "those" women who just decided to have kids b/c I was getting old.]

Gordo said...

Oh, dude! The internets have glasses! It doesn't help for an emergency replacement pair, but you can easily get a spare pair for less than $50.

Two years ago, I lost my only pair of glasses on vacation. In the surf in El Salvador. I spent three days looking at things on tours through the digital camera because I could focus on that. My replacements were $430 for nothing fancy and I despised paying it. Never again.

The prescription sunglasses that I bought online, and love, were $32US delivered. I'm just trying to settle on frames for a pair of photocromic all-days glasses. They're closer to $40. :-)

All you need is your prescription and the distance between your pupils. Ezra has info about getting that on the blog.

Merelyme said...

Wow...that is expensive! But you gotta see so I guess there is no choice. Just stopping by to say hello. It has been awhile.

Mona Buonanotte said...

When I bought my 'progressive lenses' (e.g., bificals for my old lady eyes) a couple years ago, I got no-nonsense frames with the computer coating so my eyes wouldn't fall out my head, and with the exam it was over $500. I peed my pants a little bit on that one. That was what my first car cost!

Nancy Dancehall said...

Happy birthday!

Irrelephant said...

Daisy, it STINGS, don't it? *g* It's bad enough that you have to have bifocals, but to have to pay dearly for the privelige? Wowzers.

Gordo, NOW you tell me! *lol* Actually I think you told me when I first bought the damnable things and I didn't remember it. Don't think THAT will happen again. I'm going right NOW. Gonna get me four or five extra pairs. *lol*

Merelyme, you're exactly right. I WISH I could just sort of skip over needing them but gone are my days of single-vision lenses. Welcome back!

Mona, I feel your pain, darlin'. Granted, back when I was a kid buying a car for $500 really meant you were getting a passibly decent car. Why isn't stuff getting CHEAPER as we get older? Dangit!

Thank you, Nancy! Lessee, I'm 41 now so that means I get to spank you 41 times and one to grow on, right?

Joan of Argghh! said...

Oh, btw, I asked the LHC crowd to take it easy and not end the world on your birthday. they were cool wi'dat.

Many happy more, old man!

Stucco said...

Have you checked for your glasses on top of your head?