Roger Daltrey, The Who And Me
By Tom Nussbaum
The Who claimed, in 1967, they could see for miles and miles. It might have been the hallucinogenic drugs. I also can see for miles and miles. But for me, it is the result of my recent cataract surgery.
I didn’t—no pun intended—see it coming. The need crept up on me like a mugger in the night, slowly tiptoeing closer, then robbing me blind. My distant vision, I was shocked to learn, had diminished by about forty percent. I should have had clues when, while watching TV, I could no longer read bottom-of-the-screen tickers during newscasts and sporting events. Then I realized I couldn’t decipher the state names on the sashes of the Miss Silicone Breasts contestants. Watching “Wheel of Fortune,” I couldn’t tell the difference between Pat Sajak and Vanna White. Hell, I couldn’t even see the program’s wall-size puzzles.
The improvement was immediate after the first surgery. With just one eye repaired, I saw details in the room I hadn’t observed prior to the procedure. The staff had faces, with masks over their mouths. I had thought they all had Cheshire Cat grins. I was shocked to discover a Starbuck’s, law office, and bus stop in the room. And then I realized I was looking out a window I had not noticed before. When the surgeon, who had been merely a soothing and reassuring voice before spoke, she now was a Jessica Alba-beautiful woman. Had I known that, I thought, I would have shaved, brushed my teeth, and worn deodorant.
I donned sunglasses and walked outside. Sunlight was no longer seen through a gauze filter like Lucille Ball’s face in Mame. Colors popped. Shapes had details. McDonald’s had golden arches.
But it wasn’t until the next morning that I truly grasped the improvement in my vision. I awoke and looked through my bedroom doorway into the living room. I actually saw it, the living room. My paintings had colors. My recliner, that I thought was gray when I bought it, was green, forest green. I got up and looked out the window. The wall of eggplant-colored bougainvillea across the way was really psychedelic purple. I noticed for the first time a neighbor’s pink patio umbrella. A nearby tree had orange spots in it. “Oh, my god,” I gasped. “Those are oranges?” I had thought they were bird nests.
I put on my sunglasses and climbed to my rooftop mirador. I looked to the north, toward Alaska. I could see Sarah Palin. She was gazing at Russia from her porch. I followed her eyes and saw suburban Vladivostok. I spotted a darling little brick house with three windows. I saw wooden Russian nested matryoska dolls lined up on an oak credenza; the tiniest one had a slight nick.
I turned and surveyed the northeast horizon until I saw Mar-a-Lago and I saw Melania’s stripper pole. Then I noticed a double-wide bathroom door and a Just for Men hair-dye box on the counter. It was #45-F, Pumpkin.
Looking further north, I spotted Washington, D.C. and details new to me. I could see Elizabeth Warren. “Hell!” I yelled so loud, a startled vacationing gringo in Puerto Vallarta spilled his 8 a.m. margarita. “She’s not Native American!” All this time I had thought she looked like Marlon Brando’s Oscar-surrogate Sacheen Littlefeather. “Warren looks more like Sacheen Littleliar,” I chuckled.
My gaze landed on Bernie Sanders. He was talking with a severely-acned senate page whose nametag read “Aaron.” “Holy stuff!” I exclaimed, and then bit my normally PC tongue. Damn, I thought, Bernie’s old! Who knew? His voice always sounds so soft, soothing, and youthful.
I pivoted slightly and saw Mitch McConnell. I got queasy. “Oh, horrors. He’s even uglier than I thought,” I mumbled. Then I threw up over the railing onto an ant with a back tattoo of ’80s rocker Adam Ant. OK. Maybe it was a T-shirt; I couldn’t tell. My eyesight isn’t that good.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone waving at me. I turned toward Boston. It was Tom Brady in his MAGA cap. They’re red? I thought. Tom had five of his Super Bowl rings on his hands. A sixth was—How shall I say this tactfully?—lower. And it fit. Yes. I could see that. Because he was wearing skinny jeans. Commando. Then, with his right hand, Tom threw a football in my direction—not an official one marked NFL, but one with a picture of #45-F, Pumpkin and the initials DJT on it. It, however, was intercepted at the border by an ICE agent and sent back to China where it had been made.
After I recovered from the shock of all I had seen, I looked due north again. I could see a wall at the US-Mexico border. That cracked red, white, and blue wall seemed to have no purpose other than to divide America. I saw no one climbing the wall or digging under it on the south side, nor anyone calmly talking about the barrier with others on the north side. Instead, I watched politicians tag the wall with preaching-to-the-choir graffiti. But the writing wasn’t in English or Spanish. It was in Russian.
Two days later, I had the surgery on my other eye. I won’t even start to tell you what I could see after that.
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