My Cross-eyed Twins
by Charles Dowdy
We have cute, nineteen-month-old twins.
Allow me to correct myself: We have cute, nineteen month old, cross-eyed twins.
At first we just thought they were really clumsy. If they lined up to run through a doorway they had about a fifty-percent chance of clipping the door frame. Then we found out something was wrong with their vision.
Their eyes were not so obvious that you would see them and think they could look both ways to cross the street without moving their heads. The condition was most noticeable in pictures, which we have plenty of because the twins have been photographed approximately every seventeen seconds.
My mother holds the largest photographic collection of the cross-eyed twins. As I've said many times before, my mother is big on capturing "the moment" in pictures. Unfortunately, she almost never captures "the moment." She captures "the instant" before "the moment" or "the second" after "the moment." Sometimes, when the flash thingy is giving her trouble, she captures "a point in time several minutes after the moment." All of this to say she has lots of blurry pictures of the tops of their heads, shots of their feet as they patter away, and one or two pictures of their faces in which you can almost make out the black dots that are their little crossed eyes.
Once diagnosed, this cross-eyed thing was something my wife and I took very seriously since we had already burdened these children with strange family names. Sending them out into the world with those names was going to be tough enough, and they would undoubtedly be called on to defend their family honor on more than one occasion. To expect them to do so without the best possible field of vision would be cruel.
After seeking medical counsel for the crossed eyes, we were assured this condition was quite common and we were shipped off to a crossed eye specialist in Jackson.
We were almost an hour late for our appointment. The hospital was huge. Over time the 1950's structure had been surrounded by newer, state of the art buildings, producing a labyrinth of hallways and no straight line from one place to the next.
Once we finally arrived at the hospital's eye center, I quickly dubbed it a more appropriate title: The hall of crossed eyes. Who knew there were this many people with skewed pupils? There were people crammed into seats everywhere. You would think this hall would be wide and well lit, given the fact that everyone in there, with the exception of the doctors, was dealing with some type of obscured vision. Not so. World War I trenches were more pedestrian friendly than this place.
Just to get down the hall we had to step over the feet of other patients. This was even more awkward than it sounds since conversation with cross-eyed adults is difficult because you can never tell if they are talking to you or someone else.
Obviously the eye doctors didn't sit real high in the hospital's pecking order. On the other hand, in the event of a nuclear war, there were going to be a lot of cross-eyed survivors.
The examination room was barely the size of a comma. Talk about a space invasion, I was forced to sit so close to the doctor he might as well have thrown in a dental exam for me while he was at it.
The specialist's prognosis was the same as our local doctor: surgery.
We were sent to the Ambulatory Surgery part of the hospital where we were grilled by the East German border guard/admissions person.
"These papers are not in order."
"No, one of my sons accidentally spit up on them."
"What kinds of names are these?"
"One of your children is running down the hall."
"My wife will get him."
"Where is she?"
"There, on the other side of that stretcher."
"She's not moving very fast."
"Pretty fast considering what she's got on her feet."
"Is she going to catch him before he gets on that elevator?"
"I like her odds. Besides, there's only a fifty percent chance he's aiming at the right door."
Charles Dowdy is the father of four and the husband of one. Editors may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Dowdy's web site is not to be missed! He has to be one of the funniest, most irreverent writers in the South . . . or anywhere. Go see!
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