The nurse who gave me the clap had only one eye. The other one was a glass prosthesis. In fact, her nickname on the wards was “Susan One-Eye.” Off the cuff, we called her “Susan Free for All.”
As a physician, it’s difficult for me to admit to this, but for my entire career I have yet to be able to discern in anyone who has a glass prosthesis, which eye is the real one. This is because the glass eye usually seems to be making eye contact, as it’s always fixed and looking dead straight ahead. Also, because the good eye seems to be looking at something other than me, no matter how hard I attempt to look at it, for some odd reason it always seems as if the intact good eye is the one deviating off course.
At one time in my life, when meeting an Internet date or a “fix up,” usually for the first time at a bar, if her two functional wandering eyes spent more time looking around the room at other men, than making eye contact with me, I would take this as a sign that the odds were fairly high there was going to be little or no hope for a second date. much less a one night stand. But if she only had one good eye, I never would have perceived the hint, as the prosthesis would always be looking at me. The advantage in this blind date goes to the one eye.
Sometimes the glass eye scenario forces me to tilt my head back and forth or up and down to see if I can detect the eye motion necessary to determine which eye is working, a quirk that probably makes me idiotically look like a horse in a paddock when its handler approaches. Horses happen to have an inclined-plane retina, which makes them bob their heads to focus at close quarters. This leads many horse lovers to mistake this anatomical accommodation as meaning, “Yes. I really do love you” when in fact the horse is only trying to be able to see who is coming to visit. They rely more on voice, touch and the smell of a carrot or oat treat to discern a known friend.
I guess it doesn’t really matter, because even when a person is the beholder, it must still appear to the person with the disability, that full eye contact is being made by the beholden—especially because that person can only see out of one eye anyway. However, I feel stupid when I realize that all my attention has been riveted on the blind eye.
This is when I default to looking at the teeth, another quirky behavior I inherited by being the son of a dentist; and must then wonder if the person I’m talking to is aware that I am quietly sizing up their dentition as though appraising the health of a horse at an auction.
It also didn’t matter when I was having sex with Susan One Eye, because by that point my eyes were rolling back in my head in my head while both of hers were becoming symmetrically glassed over.
The advice I must impart, however, is that if ever meeting a person at a cocktail party who seems to have strabismus, such that one of his or her eyes seems to be deviating off course and not looking directly at you—do not ever make the mistake that if it happens to be the left one, cover your tracks with lame opening-line small talk, and blurt out:
- So, what’s wrong with your left eye?
The answer will invariably be:
- Nothing. But the right one is glass.
So, what will you say next?
- You have perfect teeth. Are they real. Or caps….or maybe dentures?
(Beauty is in the eye of the beholder)