Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Here’s Lookin’ at You, Kid
My dad has one eye—well, actually two, but one is plastic.
At age seven, he was playing Cowboys and Indians with his brother and the neighbor boys. My dad liked to horse around, so he was a cowboy. Unfortunately, an “Indian” shot an arrow into his eye.
Since then, he has worn a prosthetic eye. Every couple of years he has a new one made, and his old eyes are placed in his jewelry box. If a thief were to search Dad’s room for valuables and discover Dad’s eyes, the burglar may leave a deposit.
Dad has a good sense of humor about the situation. Being in the lending business, he’d say to an unsuspecting client, “If you can tell me which eye is artificial, I’ll give you the loan.” Credibility.
As a child, I grew up seeing Dad’s eye sitting in a glass of water by the bathroom sink at night. For me, it was normal. When I’d have a friend sleep over though, reactions would range from a screech to, “I won’t brush my teeth with that thing watching me.”
To my friends, seeing an eye in a glass was like keeping fat from your liposuction in a Ziploc bag as a conversation piece or saving your appendix in a jar to remind you how useless some things can be. You kind of wonder.
When I was about four, Mom, Nana, and I went on an Amtrak journey from Wisconsin to Indianapolis to visit Nana’s oldest daughter and her four kids. The trip involved sleeping overnight on the train, and I had been raised to understand that some people took out their eye before going to sleep.
At bedtime as we were walking past a group of passengers to go to our sleeping compartment, I innocently asked Nana, “Are you going to take out your eye?” The passengers abruptly ended their conversations and tried not to gawk.
As a rebellious teenager, I always had the urge to freeze one of Dad’s eyes in an ice cube and drop it into a friend’s drink. I figured it would open some eyes. “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.”
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