I'm extremely nearsighted, so eye examinations always feel like tests I'm doomed to fail. Some people dread the drops that dilate their pupils, while others can't stand the glaucoma screenings that administer a puff of air directly onto their eyeballs. For me, it's all downhill once the optometrist places that pimple-causing batman-like contraption in front of my face for the visual acuity test. That's the part in which, one eye at a time, I'm supposed to read a chart featuring eight rows of letters displayed in descending font sizes.
I can quip the first five lines in a breeze: E! H! N! D! F! and so on. From there things get a bit murky, as I start inserting a question mark after each character I sort of see. Ohh? Ehhhf? Four? T-Rex? By the second-to-last line, I spare myself further humiliation and steer the oily lens holder away from my face. It's time to level with the optometrist with some real talk. "Look, these all look like Wingdings to me... "
We move forward with the appointment, while she attempts to identify the right prescription for my remedial vision. She fiddles with settings, magnifying the problem row and narrowing it so that only three letters are visible. (Damn, that was a P, not a T-Rex! I think.) "Now, which is clearer: This way or that way?" she asks as she shifts the lenses. I ask to review my options again. "This? Or that? ... Thiiiiis or that?" Half the time I am honest and say that they look exactly the same - like a blurry F, N, and P that were typed out in Print Shop circa 1996. The rest of the time I pick This or That at random since that's always been my trusty strategy for True/False exams.
At the end of my appointment, I receive results that confirm my weak vision. The piece of paper says: -12.75 (left eye) and -10.75 (right eye). It's not written in thick red ink, but it might as well be an F. "I can't have the worst vision you've ever seen!" I say hopefully. "Hmm, I'm trying to think of a worse one... " she responds.