A blinding example of a good eye test

February 2013

I was looking through some old photos recently and laughing at some of the stupid haircuts I’ve had over the years. From a shaved head to a ponytail, from spiked to cropped and from well styled to what it is now – which is the “I couldn’t care less” look. There are a number of reasons I don’t pay any attention to my hair now. Firstly I’m not 13. Secondly, I’m married and don’t need to make the effort to look good any more. Thirdly, I accepted years ago that I’m butt ugly so it doesn’t matter anyway, but the main reason is I hate getting my hair cut.

In nearly 30 years of getting my hair cut by a hairdresser, I still don’t know what to say when they sit me in the chair. I just want to tell them to make my hair shorter than it is now but then they ask silly questions like how much I want off the top, whether I have my hair parted and which way I have it parted or whether I even want a parting or not. Then they ask whether I want the clippers on the back and whether I want it square or tapered... I really don’t care. The only time I ever see the back of my head is when they show me the mirror at the end of the haircut.

Then they ask whether or not I want product in my hair. Now, if I’ve decided to go for a short haircut, I usually say yes because otherwise I end up with an annoying fluffy tuft at the back of my head that sticks up. Then they ask whether I want gel or wax. In other words, do I want something that is going to make my hair rock hard or something that will make it greasy? I was even once asked whether I wanted apple scented or normal. I really don’t care. I’m not expecting anyone to eat my head.

Sometimes I just haven’t bothered. I’ve asked them to do whatever they think is best and what they think would suit me. I think this is perfectly reasonable. After all, they have spent years training at college and are supposed to be experts in the field so they should be more than capable of using their experience and artistic flare to do that. Very few of them are it would seem and most get flustered and even annoyed that I would suggest such a thing.

They always try and make small talk as well. I’m usually fairly good at making small talk for a few minutes but hairdressers like to spend over half an hour trimming my Barnet and it’s obvious neither of us really wants to talk, so after 5 minutes of establishing that I want my hair shorter than when I walked in and discussing the weather, I sit there with this uncomfortable silence between us; a silence that is made all the more uncomfortable because my hairdressers have always insisted on resting their breasts against my face while they are cutting my hair.

The thing I really hate is the fact that I have to take my glasses off when they are cutting my hair and, because I’m practically blind without them, I can’t see what they are doing so when they ask if it looks alright, I simply have to nod and agree. And this last point leads me blindly into another place I don’t like visiting: The opticians.

Opticians always seem to be coming up with new and ingenious ways of humiliating you. I am sure most of the tests they do are pointless and unnecessary and are simply invented by them for cheap laughs and to see how much they can get away with.

For years they played the old game of switching the light off and attempting to make you laugh by getting their face as close to your face with a magnifying glass while they shone a bright light into your eyes.

The other old favourite was showing you letters made up of dots and seeing whether or not you could make out the letter. If you couldn’t tell the difference between an E and an F, they would jot down the word “retard” in their notebook.

However, in recent years they have got more inventive with their games. A few years ago my opticians devised what appears to be more like a reaction test. You have to stick your face in a scary looking piece of equipment and look at a red light. Every time you see a green light, you have to press a button. I’m convinced that if you take too long to press the button, they simply write down “retard” in their notebook.

Their latest game is to ask you to look into yet another scary piece of equipment whereby they simply tell you to try not to blink and then proceed to blow cold air into your eye. Is that really necessary? I can’t believe that proves anything other than establish the reflex speed of the unsuspecting patient. No doubt if the person fails to blink, they simply write down “retard” in their notebook.

Apparently the above are just “pre” tests. Having utterly humiliated myself and failed the reaction test, I then went into see the rather attractive optician who began the examination by asking me questions about my general state of health. I was asked whether I smoke, if I have any diseases, whether I’m on any medication and what my relationship status was. I just want to know if my eyes are still working. I wasn’t expecting a damn medical. It sounded more like she was sounding me out for herself.

She then put an enormous plastic frame around my head and proceeded to ascertain how literate I was. She then put lenses in front of my face and asked whether I could see better when the lens was facing one way or the other. Most of the time there was hardly any difference so I’m sure she was checking to see whether or not I was a liar.

So having established that I have slow reactions, I don’t have Syphilis, I don’t smoke and I am generally a good catch, she herded me back down stairs where I had to choose my frames. There I had to sit through another series of tests – this one more like a physical examination. The lady asked me to look into her eyes while she took out a ruler to see how wide my head is and how big my ears are.

So next month I have the joys of the dentist where the guy will pull the usual trick of asking me to open my mouth as wide as possible while he fingers my tongue and attempts to make me talk so I dribble all over myself.