I woke up Monday morning the same way I wake up most mornings: startled, disoriented, and in a panic to find the source of the ear-splitting noise coming from my nightstand. Usually it only takes a few seconds for the beer-addled synapses in my brain to start firing again. I always imagine that to the tiny creatures/aliens controlling my brain, it must sound like someone trying to start a ‘68 Chevy, including a series of misfires, a couple of popping sounds, and finally a throaty rumble to life accompanied by a cloud of black exhaust thick enough to choke a Rhinocerous.
When my brain finally got past the usual morning struggle, I realized that the unholy noise was my phone alarm. I grabbed the phone and brought it to my face in order to hit the “Snooze” option. Now, sure, I do this more frequently than Congressmen send inappropriate pictures of themselves out into the unprotected interwebs, but I still like to make sure the button I’m clicking is the RIGHT button. See, there’s a “Snooze” and “Dismiss” option. Hitting the first one postpones the alarm 10 minutes, which means I’m telling my boss that I hit a water buffalo leaving my neighborhood. The second one turns the alarm off completely, and given that I’m still every bit as capable of sleeping until 1 PM as I was when I was 14, that one ends with me telling the disgruntled gentleman with the bushy eyebrows and Flock of Seagulls-style nose plumage at the unemployment office that I hit a water buffalo leaving my neighborhood.
I’m betting he doesn’t care.
With phone in hand, I looked at the screen and suddenly became even more confused than usual. I seemed to have gone blind. Where normally the display of my phone would show tiny pictures and text, I was seeing nothing but a whitish fuzziness. This probably should have alarmed me, but then, I was still waiting for the Chevy to warm up. So instead of questioning my newly discovered lack of sight, I clicked one of the alarm buttons, hoped for the best, and immediately went back to sleep.
Ten minutes later, the alarm started its unpleasant bleating again, and again I reached for the device. This time, though, I was slightly more awake, and realized that maybe, just maybe, something wasn’t right. So I squinted at the thing. Nothing. Then I decided to alternate eyes. Left eye, nada, zip, zilch, zero. Right eye, familiar alarm control buttons. Left eye, fuzzy, grey fog of Doom; right eye, good morning, Blackberry!
This could only mean one thing: either someone had borrowed my left eye and forgotten to check it back in, or apparently, I’d somehow lost a contact lens overnight.
Yes, I sleep in my contact lenses. I wear the nifty 30-day extended wear things because, well, I’m a huge baby. I hate, loathe, despise, and generally get an uncontrollable case of the willies even thinking about touching eyeballs. I’d rather a lick a wart-ridden toad—prince, princess, or common Bufo Americanus—that’s been sitting in a stagnant, muddy creek on a scorching August afternoon than have to touch my eyes or see someone else mess with theirs.
When I was younger, I had hard/gas permeable contacts. You couldn’t sleep in them, but they popped out with a squint and a blink…no fingering the eyeballs was necessary. At some point, though, my vision guy told me to get off the hard lenses and try these sleep-in deals. I was obviously dubious. I’d had to turn away in disgust from enough people peeling lenses off their soft, gelatinous eyeballs to know that I wanted no part of it. But, the vision guy needed to push one more free sample to get his kickback, so he persisted. Finally, I agreed to give it a try, but only if removing them could be done without any manual ocular manipulation.
Well, the practice run sucked, but I did, in fact, manage to get the bastards out without being reduced to a shameful, huddling lump of uncontrollable shaking reminiscent of “The Crying Game”. So I decided to give the extended-wear things a couple of months. As it turns out, if you wear them for, um, somewhat longer that the minimum suggested 30 days, by the time you’re ready to take the things out, they fly out of your eyes like pack of children hitting Chuck E. Cheese’s for a birthday party.
This isn’t the first time I’ve woken up and been without a contact. The first time it happened, I freaked out, certain that I’d rubbed my eyes hard enough in my sleep to push the little thing up and over into the Dark Side of The Eye. I had visions of it festering back there and eventually getting infected, or worse, become sentient and growing into some kind of gypsy psychic. I’d be reduced to popping my eyeball out at flea markets so it could read some teenager’s sweaty palm for $5 bucks.
Then again, eye patches are cool, right? The patched-wearing pirate captains get all the ladies.
Luckily, the Puddinette was able to confirm for me that the mysteriously disappearing contact lens had, in fact, disappeared and not made a run for the border. Since then, I occasionally wake up to find myself partially blinded by a missing lens.
So where do they go? Do they sneak off in the dead of night, hoping for a better life full of beauty and joy? I mean, I guess I do look at a computer screen an awful lot, full of either software or text. It’s probably not the most compelling life for a piece of silicone.
I suppose one could argue that I might consider sticking to the manufacturer’s recommended 30-day period of wear. But then I’d have to poke myself in the eyeball once a month, and I think we all know how by now likely that is. I could also wear my glasses more often. I mean, they do make me look all studious and sensitive. But they prohibit the use of sunglasses, and if I haven’t mentioned it, my eyes enjoy unfiltered sunlight about as much as a vampire does. But that’s another post.
For now, I’m going to spend the three sunniest days in the past month squinting like Mr. Magoo.
Next time, I’m duct taping my contacts in place. Duct tape fixes everything.
*Technically, there’s “ommetaphobia”, or fear of eyes. But my case it’s just about touching, so I think I’m just more weird that actually phobic.