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by Ron Carlson
“Hey, buddy, over here,” I heard a voice whisper from the shadows.

“How much?” I asked.

“How much you got?” the man in the black ski mask responded.

“Fifty bucks,” I said, unwilling to disclose the real count.

“Okay,” he told me, “that will get you two sets.”

“Two sets!” I exclaimed, “That’s outrageous!”

“Maybe so,” he calmly muttered, “take it or leave it.”

“They’re only $13.95 a box inside,” I protested, pointing to the Sam’s entrance across the parking lot.

“Then go get ‘em there,” he said with a shrug of his shoulders.

“You know I can’t do that,” I told him, hoping to evoke sympathy and a reduced bid. “I don’t have a prescription.”

“Tough luck, buddy. Take it or leave it.”

I gave him the money. He gave me the contact lenses. We parted. No one got hurt.

I balk at supporting the shady underground economy and enabling con artists who prey on the weak-minded and shortsighted. But what’s an optically challenged guy like me to do when our appointment is still two weeks away? I gotta’ see. And that makes me vulnerable to exploitation by the criminal element of society.

I’m already under suspicion at the local Sam’s Warehouse for trying to purchase Bausch &Lomb’s without a prescription. They have my mug shot on a bulletin board near the lasagna freezer. I’ve got to be careful. Big Brother Walton is watching.

But it’s really not my fault. I’m as innocent as any guilty person. Blame the State Legislators. They are the ones who make it a felony to be in possession of contact lenses after one year from your last examination. They are the ones who have driven normally law-abiding citizens like myself to the streets in search of illegal contraband.

We live in a really big state with gargantuan and really big issues like immigration, school finance, water shortages, urban sprawl, stinky air, Nicole Smith, and Yankees from up north picking Bluebonnets, and how do our elected officials respond? They draft laws making sure no one can buy contact lenses without a yearly check-up.

I bet Tom Delay is somehow behind it all. His brother-in-law is probably an optometrist.

I know I sound judgmental, but I’m upset. And not just for me, but also for all the myopic people of the state, from Brownsville to Lubbock, from Texarkana to El Paso, for all the four-eyed people who have escaped the tyranny of glasses and found consolation in contacts. We’ve been reduced to common criminals.

All you 20-20 folks, smug in your refractions, don’t understand the magnitude of our problem. There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.

But look at it from our perspective.

Once a year, every year, we have to take a day off from life and get an eye exam. Even with a coupon, it runs about $1800.00 (sarcasm), if you get the double drops and computer read-out. Fortunately, they take plastic.

Fortunately, I have insurance, which pays the first $18.

Fortunately, I live in a state where the elected representatives care about my health.

“Why is it,” I asked the pleasant young assistant about ready to finish her third year of high school, “that it’s so important I get an annual exam?”

“No talking during the exam,” she responded while pressing her index finger to her lips. “It could affect your test scores.”

“What then?” I asked, fearful I might fail.

“No contacts!”


“Yep, that’s right, four-eyes,” she smiled. “You want to go back to glasses?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Then be quiet and squint.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

The doctor eventually strolled in to give his Good Housekeeping approval. He examined the exam. He shook his head back and forth. He motioned to his bodyguard to come near. He showed her the picture of the back of my undressed eyeball. I felt violated.

“Highway to the Danger Zone,” he laughed

She laughed on cue, as good assistants often do.

“Excuse me…” I interrupted.

“You have rogue blood vessels marching toward your cornea,” he explained in militant terms.

“What does that mean?” I inquired, ever the pragmatist.

“If you wear your contacts twenty-four hours a day for the next sixty years, you’ll go blind.”

“So what should I do?”

“Exercise, eat right, get plenty of rest, and stop sinning.”

“Anything else?”

“Make your annual appointment before you leave.”

Well, I’ve got news for him. I ain’t going back. I can get a counterfeit prescription on the street for less than the cost of a State Inspection sticker.

It’s a matter of principle.

I hate being victimized by goofy rules. It violates my sense of common sense. It retards my pursuit of freedom.

Now I understand regulations governing codeine-laced pain pills. But contact lenses? What are they thinking in Austin? Do they envision sixteen year olds sneaking out behind the woodshed and smoking contacts? Might we become addicted to seeing straight? And see through their hocus-pocus?

I hate silly rules, especially when they are imposed upon me by folks ill equipped to pass legislation or judgment.

I guess that’s why I hate legalism. I hate silly rules and the silly doctors of regulation who seek to enforce them. It’s a Highway to the Danger Zone.

Leave me alone. Take your nonsense somewhere else. Go play doctor of law with someone who doesn’t know better. Those of us who know Jesus, know better, and it’s one of the main reasons we adore our Liberator. He came to set us free from goofy regulations imposed by goofy little-fallen-power-hungry-people.

Thank you, Lord, for grace, pure, simple, and free

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