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?