12 June 2009

Swimming Pool

I was 17 when I discovered that not everyone else saw the world as fuzzy as me, and that I needed glasses. Wanting so badly to be cool, wearing glasses just didn't fit the image I was pathetically striving for.

My parents were always pretty tight with money, but somehow, I managed to persuade them to get me contact lenses. That was in the days when contact lenses were very expensive and had to be cleaned with a cleaning solution and then boiled to disinfect every night.

One summer Saturday, the parents of the two little girls I regularly babysat, told me that I would be babysitting the girls at the house of a friend of theirs that day. As it turned out, a mega-rich friend with a fantastic mansion and enormous swimming pool. The girls would have their cozzies and I could bring mine too. There was another little girl at the friends' house and I was looking after all three kids while the parents were out.

It was a hot day, and we had such fun playing in the pool. Such fun, that I completely forgot that I was wearing contact lenses. It wasn't until it was time to go home that noticed that my right contact lens has vanished. Into the pool, obviously.

When I got home, I was terrified of telling my parents. I knew they would not react well My dad yelled at me: did I have any idea how expensive contact lenses are, and why wasn't I more careful? He said there was only one thing to do: he was going to get his scuba diving equipment and find the missing contact lens in the pool.

Like a drowning fish, I gasped. In disbelief. In horror. Was he completely insane to think it was even remotely possible to find a tiny invisible plastic sliver in a big swimming pool? Did he truly think that the pool owners would let a complete nutcase go scuba diving in their pool? Did he want to ruin my life?

In an instant, he was already putting the scuba gear in the car. I pleaded, I begged, I promised I would never ever be so careless again. Eventually he relented. I've never been sure if he realised himself what an idiot he would look like, or if he eventually figured the health insurance would pay for a new contact lens.

The memory still sends shivers of panic and embarrassment up my spine.

15 comments:

fifi said...

oh my GOD! snap!


except I didnt even know that the world was not all fuzzy and soft TILL I GRADUATED Art school (!) I always paid for my own.
I cried the day i walked down to manly wharf and realised you could see the other side of the harbour....and the leaves on the tops of the trees...


but I never lost one in a swimming pool.....or an ocean...

Ulrike said...

OH MY GOD fifi! Are we living parallel lives?

In art school, I often took off my specs. Sometimes fuzzy is quite nice.

Mary said...

My eyes are getting fuzzy now - too much photography?

I like the idea of an intellectual pair of glasses though!!

meggie said...

Bless the thought of your Dad! I have had that manic thought, that I can just find soemething, given the chance!
As it happens I often have found the 'needle in the haystack'.
No, it wasn't always stuck in my bum!!

Ulrike said...

I've given up on contacts. The intellectual look really suits me now, Mary!!

Meggie, sometimes when I do things my kids find embarrassing, I realise that I may have inherited more than a touch of my dad's manic thinking! Scary.

Jane Tara said...

I didn't realize I needed glasses until Liv got them and I laughed at her, and tried hers on... and realized I could suddenly see. I didn't know I couldn't.

I love the pool. LOVE the handrails.

Ulrike said...

Thanks Jane! I thought Jacques was going to fix your eyes!!! x

pilgrimchick said...

This is one of those moments when you reconsider your parents having all the answers.

Jane Tara said...

Oh yes, Jacques and his magic paddles will!!!!!

Ulrike said...

Pilgrimchick, it was definitely one of those moments. Definitely!

Luhlahh said...

There was a girl at our art school who was essentially blind - she could only see dark and light blurry indistinct shapes. Legally blind. Need a cane blind. She had a giggle when she overheard some of her drawing lecturers speculatng as to whether she might have a sight problem!

Ulrike said...

Hi Luhlahh

Imagine if she had had full sight. She would have given Rembrandt a run for his money, I reckon.

Either that, or the teachers were a bit of a worry.

Luhlahh said...

Her paintings were beautiful. Very large scale, semi-abstract charcoal drawings. Her 'unique vision' actually gave her her unique vision. The drawings were very sensual and emotional.

Tongue Trip said...

in between my boards exam, during the lunch break, one of my lenses( when they used to come brittle as glass) fell off because of my dehydrated eye and i had to write the other paper stooped really low over the sheets. what a struggle for a minus 8 vision. your writing reminded me of that day from some fifteen years ago. enjoyed your scrap and experienced your horror.

Ulrike said...

Thanks for visiting, Tongue Trip.

"when they were as brittle as glass". Urrrgghh. Bad memories.

I visited your blog too, and I just love your photos.