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Jane buys cheaters by the dozen
JANE HAS A TERRIBLE TIME hanging on to reading glasses, but has dis-covered the Dollar Store super-cheapo variety, which suits her short-term relationship style with the devices.

VERNON COUNTY - I’ve sat on my reading glasses, stepped on them, and accidentally kicked them across the room. Finnegan, my rat terrier mix, has mistaken my reading glasses for teething toys ever since his razor-sharp permanent teeth came in.

I’m not good at hanging on to glasses. I think of Newton’s third law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. I buy a pair of cheater readers, I misplace them. I buy a pair of glasses, I break them. My friend gives me her not-strong-enough readers, and Finn destroys them.

I’m known to walk around patting either the top of my head or the front of my shirt, groping for my glasses. I’m perpetually in motion, searching for them—which brings to mind Newton’s first law: An object in motion stays in motion until acted upon by another force.

My eyes are becoming weaker as I age. I can no longer read recipes without my reading glasses. I’ve ruined meals by adding 1 3/4 cup water when it should have been 1 1/3. My first pair of readers had a strength of 1.0. I’m now at 4.0. I fear the end is near.

I spend an obscene amount of time looking for my glasses. I run from my office to the kitchen, into the bathroom, over to the couch, out to my car, downstairs to the washer and dryer, and, worst-case scenario, to the pig or duck pen, trying to figure out where I left them. I don’t want to hang them on a chain around my neck. I had one once—it made me feel like I was choking, and I took it off. It is lost now too, never to be found.

Recently, when I was about to dump and refill the duck’s water bowl, my glasses plopped off the top of the head and into the bowl. Did you know ducks can fill a bowl full of mud quicker than you can misplace your favorite reading glasses? Good thing the hose was already on.

Later, I turned around to flush the toilet and plop, in they went, this time from the front of my shirt. In high school, I tried archery and could never even get close to hitting the target. My accuracy for dropping my glasses into feed, water, toilet, and fish bowls astonishes me.

I went to a real eye doctor once. He told me I could continue to get away with readers or I could get a pair of bifocals that I’d keep on my face. I figured there was less chance of losing glasses that stayed on my face, so I gave it a try. Wrong—three days and they were gone. Lesson learned. I’ve been a cheap cheaters convert ever since.

I’m notorious for buying multiple pairs of glasses. I always buy the cheapest ones I can find, and I never bother trying them on in the store. Dane asked me why I don’t try them on before buying.

“I don’t care what they look like on me.” I answered.

“I do,” he boldly replied. “I’m the one that has to look at you.”

A store in La Crosse sells six pairs of decent-looking glasses for $12.99. I find it maddening because they offer three different packaged assortments, and each package contains exactly one pair that I like. This makes for a long-drawn-out decision process that Dane would rather not witness. The last time we came home after one such ordeal he marched over to the calendar, pen in hand, looking smug.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Marking six pair of glasses on the calendar. I want to see how long it takes you to lose or destroy them.” Funny guy, that Dane.

Later, pulling out of a parking lot after taking the pups for a hike, we heard a disturbing loud crunch. I opened my door and Dane opened his. We both walked to my side of my car, and there was the best pair of glasses in that bunch I had just bought, lying on the pavement. They were a beautiful dark aqua blue that reminded me of the Caribbean. Now, they were crunched beyond recognition. I’m in the habit of leaving my car keys on top of a tire so I don’t lose them on the trail. I had set my new glasses there with them for safekeeping.

Dane looked at me, held up the index figure of his right hand, and said, “One down.”

It was a quiet ride home. He marked it on the calendar when we got there.

Dane has found my glasses under his car seat, out in the pasture, and sitting on a fence post. I’ve found them under my car seat, in the lining of my winter jacket, and on top of the garbage can that holds the duck feed. I’ve not only laundered my glasses, I’ve also put them through the dryer. I’m shocked when I find them intact among the clean laundry. I’m thrilled when I discover them lying on a trail in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. I always stop and look down, thinking, could those be my glasses?

If I had an engineering background I’d get busy designing a device that would beep and blink when I misplace my glasses. Like those clap-on, clap-off lamps, all I’d need to do is clap, then follow the beeping and flashing to my glasses. Once it was perfected, I’d sell the patent and become rich. There’s a whole lot of bad reader glasses karma out there.

A friend told me about the dollar store, where she buys her reading glasses for a buck. A buck! The next day I drove there, and sure enough, one dollar for a pair of cheapo readers. A perfect price to pay when you couldn’t care less how they look on your face and you know they’re doomed to a short existence anyway.

My house is now well stocked with reading glasses. Two near the computer, a pair in the bathroom, another upstairs in my bedroom, one in the kitchen, and one more on the end table in the living room. I even have a pair in the car—or at least I did last Monday. Today is Sunday. Two pairs left and counting.

I wonder if I’d qualify for eye surgery. In the long run, I think it would be cheaper.