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Batteries: PEZ not included

Over the past several months, I started having difficulty seeing certain things like the writing on classroom chalkboards. At first, I insisted the fault was not my own. During several classes, I yelled to the professor, "Stop writing blurry!"

On other occasions, I played it off like I could see things I actually could not. "I saw that cow. I just ran it over because it gave me an ugly look."

I simply refused to believe my eyesight was declining. Eventually my roommate tried to force me past my denial.

Roommate: "Lee, you need to get glasses."

Me: "Who said that? Who's there? I do not need glasses!"

It's depressing to think my body is already fading while I'm still in college. I'm afraid if I give in to my weakening eyesight now, before I know it, I'll be wearing pants short enough to show my ugly socks even when I'm standing, and I'll adore Regis Philbin.

Anyway, I accepted the fact that I needed glasses and headed off to an eye doctor. Once there, I filled out a form, which unfortunately asked if I had a history of eye trauma. I say "unfortunately" because it's embarrassing to have to admit that.

"I got acid in my eye when trying to smash open a battery." I might as well have written, "I'm a freaking moron lacking in common sense. Please pity my ignorant soul."

Since I previously got permission from my faithful readers to digress in this column (I e-mailed both of them), I'll go ahead and explain how I got battery acid in my eye at the age of four. I wish I was making the following story up, but I'm not that lucky.

To put it simply, I wanted to understand the inner workings of a battery. Looking back on the experience, I can see how such an endeavor could be tempting. At that age, we saw batteries go into every cool toy we owned - remote control cars, talking Elmo, stun guns. But we had no idea what those batteries were doing in there or what they were made of. For all I knew, they had PEZ inside, and I felt I had an obligation to my fellow 4-year-olds to crack this long-kept secret.

Truthfully, my thinking was probably more along the lines of, "Let's see... what in this room have I not yet smashed with a hammer? ...The dog, but she'll probably make noise. You know what won't make noise? A battery! Not to mention there's a possibility of hidden PEZ."

So I wandered off to the shed because, even at that age, I knew that if a guy wants to build or dismantle something his wife or parents would not approve of, it takes place in the shed. And I wasn't the only boy who knew there were cool "off-limits" toys in the shed. In fact, when I walked into the shed that day, one of the walls was still partially brown from an incident involving my older brother and a can of spray paint.

So if things had gone as planned, I now would be informing you I was the first person to uncover the icing-filled center of batteries, earning me the Nobel Prize for science at the age of five. But things did not go as planned.

To my great surprise, slamming a battery with a hammer turned out to be a bad idea. When the acid sprayed into my eye, I ran to my dad, who was lying on the hammock relaxing, thinking about how life with children actually did have some peaceful moments.

As I started to panic, he asked me how I had hurt myself. When he looked me in the eye (singular), I had no choice but to tell him the truth. I said (this is true), "Dad, I ran into a bush."

To make a long story a little longer, I went to the hospital, but doctors found very little serious damage to my eye. Then, to my dismay, my parents decided I was no longer allowed to smash things with a hammer unless my dad encouraged it, which turned out to be fairly often.

Getting back to a couple weeks ago, I tried to put the hurtful memories behind me as the eye doctor did some simple testing.

Doctor: "Does it hurt when I poke you in the eye?"

Me: "Yes."

Doctor: "How about now?"

Me: "Yes."

Doctor: "How about if I do it harder?"

Me: "Yes."

She soon decided my eyes weren't that bad, and I headed off to buy a pair of glasses. It immediately concerned me that the salesperson, who was supposed to help me choose eyewear, sported frames roughly the size and weight of a cappuccino machine. I know very little about glasses, but he apparently bought his from a yard sale at Drew Carey's house.

Because I had never worn glasses before, I didn't realize how expensive frames would be. Should I really have to pay $150 to look a little more like a nerd? I had already been forced to confess my eyesight was declining, see a doctor and relive bad childhood memories.

So if you ask me, they should have given me the frames for free along with a bag of cookies and a psychotherapy session.

I now have a pair of quasi-ugly glasses I wear when I'm driving, when I'm in the back of a big class, and when there's a partially naked woman on television. For anybody who was shocked by the last sentence, relax because I'm just kidding - I'm far too lazy to bring my glasses to class.


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