Sam Venable 

Department of Irony

“OK, but if we work together … Whammo! Depth perception!”We’re going to conduct a test to determine relative ages in the reading audience. Please study the following sentence and consider what it means.

“Thanks to my spiffy fashion accessory, I could be modeling Hathaway shirts.”

If your reaction was, “Huh? What’s that doddering old croak blathering about now? Has he finally tumbled into the abyss of senility?” consider yourself a child.

If, however, you perused that sentence and immediately formed the mental image of a Hathaway shirt model, two things are iron-clad certain.

1. You also are a doddering old croak.

2. You’re a veteran of, or are about to be drafted into, the Cataract Wars.

As anyone who came of age in the 1950s and ’60s will attest, Hathaway shirt models—for reasons known only to Madison Avenue—always were pictured with a black patch across one eye. I’m wearing one of these patches as we speak. But not in the name of haute couture.

Let me explain for those not of codger ilk.

I’ve been nearsighted all my life and have worn glasses or contact lenses since early on. With them, my adjusted vision was 20/20. It stayed that way for decades.

Then in the mid-1990s, the people who print books, magazines, newspapers, church bulletins, menus, order forms, telephone directories, catalogs, etc., abruptly switched to teeny-tiny type. Doc Cornea solved the problem by prescribing bifocals for me.

But in the last year, my vision—closeup as well as far off—started going due south. Got a lot darker and blurrier too.

Thus, a couple of weeks ago, I availed my left eye to laser cataract surgery.

I chose the “faraway” option for the replacement lens. My right eye will get a similar long-range laser fix in a couple of days. I can’t wait.

In the meantime, my eyeballs have been feuding with each other something awful.

The left one acts like a telescope. It sees clearly and sharply from here to Jupiter. The right one thinks it’s a microscope. It can’t focus on anything beyond the tip of my nose. Which is why I’m wearing a black patch over the left eye and typing with my face virtually glued to the computer screen.

Yes, once both my eyes get fixed and into sync, I’ll need reading glasses if I expect to recognize any words that aren’t printed in boxcar letters.

So? As long as drug stores and discount stores sell el cheapo “cheaters” by the handful, I’ll have abundant pairs for every pocket of my coats, the console of my truck, the nightstand, the boat, wherever. It is the duty of all characterized senior citizens to keep the local economy booming.

Now, if only my wife and grandchildren would quit mumbling. Lordy! Why don’t people speak up these days?

Sam Venable is an author, comedic entertainer, and humor columnist for the Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel. His latest book is
“The Joke’s on YOU! (All I Did Was Clean Out My Files).” He may be reached at