Posted in Columns

The Eyes Have It. Now and in the Future.

There’s nothing like dinner with old friends to put life back into focus – sort of.

During a recent dinner out with a bunch of my high school friends and their assorted spouses, we found ourselves begging, borrowing and sometimes stealing those quintessential symbols of Middle Age: reading glasses.

Hanging at the bar before being seated was fine – the bartender asked what we wanted and each of us, in succession (much to the bartenders’ dismay, I’m sure) asked, “Whatcha got?” then ordered whatever sounded good at the moment.

It was a different story once we wedged our 16 bodies into the lengthy framework of tables and chairs that was reminiscent of our high school cafeteria, only way nicer. Apparently it was a better crowd, too, since there was no evidence of recent food fights or cranky cafeteria ladies scowling from behind the cash register.

The menus were the real problem. One by one, “cheater” glasses of assorted shapes and sizes were pulled from purses and pockets, stealthily placed at the ends of noses and despite the visual assistance the eyewear provided, a chorus of, “I can’t read a damn thing!” rose up to the rafters.

The entire scene confirmed the suspicion I’ve had for a while that I am, indeed, growing older. I do my best to ignore the signs –little lines on my forehead and around my eyes, waking up every day around 5:30 or 6 a.m. – even on Sunday. Can’t eat the way I used to. Can’t run around the way I used to.

Sometimes I cope by leaving my glasses off – look, no lines! I can’t see anything else, either.

Other times, I’m positive I am the only one feeling this way. (Let’s hear it for self-pity.) That nobody could possibly understand what it’s like to be – well, me.

Then I found myself amongst friends of a same certain age complaining about the same certain things – can’t see, can’t move, can’t whatever. We looked at pictures of each others’ kids and couldn’t believe how old the kids were – some the same age we were when we met around 30 years ago. I’m the only one who has grandkids – but in defense, I was also the first one to get married and have kids. So there.

At some point during the evening between the good wine, good food and even better conversation, I said, “Oh, my gosh, we are seriously getting old!”

My friend, Janet – whose personality and smile are probably more sunshiny now than ever – looked at me over her tiger-striped cheaters and said, “Who cares? We’re growing old together!”

OK, Janet, it’s true. We’re growing older. And really, there’s not a whole lot we can do about it other than accept it graciously and keep a fantastic sense of humor – not that there’s much choice in this particular group of people.

I hope we’ll spend lots of time together in our coming years. Can you see us hanging out in our rocking chairs on a porch in Florida, listening to “My Sharona” or some other early 80s pop tune?

There we’ll be, rocking to the beat, until one of us stops, shuts off the music and yells, “Hey! Can I borrow those glasses?”



I'm a writer, editor, photographer and artist living in rural Southeastern Wisconsin. I grew up in Chicago, made my way to the deep woods of Northern Minnesota and then landed here among the cornfields and cows. It's quite simply my happy place.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s