Yesterday at work I noticed a get-well card lying on the counter behind the info desk, along with a note that read, "If you'd like to send R. some get well wishes, please sign this card."
"What's wrong with R.?" I asked the assistant manager.
"She's having some kind of eye surgery."
I barely suppressed a shudder. "Calm down, calm down," I told myself. "This is a good thing."
R. has a lazy eye. Some people, I've heard, rather enjoy a good lazy eye, but I'm not one of them. I never know quite where to look when I'm talking to a person possessed of one and it makes me self-conscious. Do I gaze into the wayward eye? The other eye? The spot between their eyes? I worry that lazy-eyed people will sense my nervousness and become angry; even though they have probably dealt with losers like me their whole lives, they still must become irritated at my helplessness.
R., however, is clearly self-conscious about her eye, which leads me to believe she has not been living with it for that long. But I'm not sure -- I don't know her well enough to ask, "So, have you had that since you were born, or is it a more recent thing?" Even if we were best friends, I don't think I'd have the guts to ask such an impertinent question. But I know it bothers her. She has difficulty making eye contact and tends to turn her head away if her eye drifts off to the side. Then -- worse! -- she'll "fix" it by wiggling and rolling both her eyes around until they line up again. Yeah, yeah, I know she has to live with it, but I'm the one who has to see it. Gah! I'm assuming this operation is to correct her ocular alignment, which will make my life better. And hers, too, I'm sure.
Actually, there's one thing about R. that bothers me far worse than her lazy eye. I asked her a couple of weeks ago what she was reading and she said, "Power to the People by Laura Ingraham. I enjoy her radio show so I thought I'd give this a try. It's a really good book." Double gah!