Through the Lens: Cheaters
When you hear the word “cheater,” what comes to mind? The kid that sat next to you in math class and copied your test answers. Your doctor tells you to cut back on food and lose weight? Then you order a double cheeseburger, fries with gravy plus a diet drink to comply with your doctor’s orders. Or perhaps an illicit affair between two people involved in a romantic tryst may come to mind.
These are a few ways we cheat on ourselves and others. But the point of this story is the cheating we do to compensate for our ageing eyes and loss of hearing.
The first sign of cheating with your vision is when you read the newspaper and you hold the printed page at arm’s length to see the words clearly. Adjusting to hearing loss requires a bit of acting skills. Do you find yourself nodding your head like you understand conversations, but have no clue to what’s being said for the most part?
Next you begin to find things to help with these problems. You find near the checkout counter two items that will help with your struggles. Reading glasses for $1.00 and rechargeable hearing aid for $19.00. You do a quick look around to make sure no one sees your impending purchases before laying them on the checkout counter.
The first time using the glasses, you look around to see who may have noticed your cheating. Carefully you remove them from your pocket, slip them on to read last night’s ball game scores. At first, you are reluctant to let others see you with the small pair of dollar readers. But after a while, you begin feeling confident with your improved vision. Then comes the big move, slipping your hearing aid into your ear. You turn it on and the world of noise suddenly invades your brain. You have now joined the ranks of cheaters using checkout counter glasses and hearing aids to rejoin the social world.
After a while the 1.5 magnification of the cheaters is not enough to read the small print of the evening paper.
You return to the discount store and take the test. You know the test. The one where you try on different magnifications and read the five lines that have progressively smaller print. After trying a couple pairs you find a set of cheaters that make it easier for you to read the test sentences. You realize the 2.5 x magnification makes the words much clearer and they still only cost a dollar.
By this stage in your battle with diminishing eye sight, your vanity has gone by the wayside. You find yourself wearing your cheaters more and more to function in the daily world of printed material.
The inexpensive cost of readers causes us to become collectors of the cheap reading glasses. We have a pair in our coat pocket or purse. A pair sliding back and forth across your cars dash. And a pair next to your chair. A pair on the magazine in your bathroom. Oh! And don’t forget the missing pair on top of your head.
At the beginning of being a cheater, you hid the cheap glasses in your pocket so no one will see them. By now the denial that your glasses are the one dollar pair anyone can purchase as they check out has been forgotten.
Your hearing is a little more difficult to correct than your eyes were. Inexpensive hearing aids help you hear the world around you. Car horns, dogs barking or the big mouthed guy sitting next to you at the restaurant. The difference between cheap hearing aids and expensive ones is, the good ones filter out sound outside the normal frequency of voices. You also find that the hearing aid make things louder, but not clearer to hear certain words.
As we age, Mother Nature plays a cruel joke on each of us and turns us into cheaters. We use dollar glasses to tell ourselves we really don’t need prescription glasses. We convince ourselves we only need them occasionally and see no reason to visit the optometrist. And as too our hearing, we learn to pretend to hear conversations. We watch others to laugh or smile at the correct time. We shake our heads in agreement, having no idea what we agreed to. And our wives point out she has to repeat herself more than she used to. You know in your mind a few years ago you just ignored her words, but now you don’t hear them very well.
For just a few dollars, we try and stave off the curses of old age. Then at a restaurant looking through your cheaters to read the menu, a young lady asks to take your order. She joyfully points to the where the specials are listed on the menu as if you couldn’t see them and she speaks a little louder so you can hear her words informing you about the seniors discount that evening. You pretend you didn’t hear her comment. The world has cheated you out of the dream of youth and makes sure everyone knows as you charged the meal on an AARP discount card. And if reading glasses and hearing aids were not enough of a reminder of your lost youth, I’ll bet one day at the checkout counter will be a bottle of little blue pill cheaters for sale. Once again we will be reminded of our loss of sight, loss of hearing and loss of attention as we try and cheat old age Through the Lens.