10.9 Eyepatch

A couple of weeks ago, I woke up too early in the morning and couldn’t open my right eye. It wasn’t your usual sleepy-eyed-I-just-woke-up kind of thing. When I tried to open it, it was so painful that my lids involuntarily snapped back shut. It felt as though something sharp was cutting across the cornea of my eye.

As the body does, it tried to expel the foreign object, and tears started rolling down my cheek. My left eye must have felt left out because it also started to tear up, even though there was nothing that felt like sharp parrot claws scratching across my eye the way my right one did.

I sat up in bed and tried rubbing my eye. That, as you could have guessed, only made it worse. I literally couldn’t move my body out of a fear that another wave of pain might hit. If I stayed still, the pain steadied itself. But I couldn’t just sit there forever. I stood up and tried to open my eye. A shot of pain shot across my eye. I kept it shut and opened my left eye, slowly moving across the room to the stairs.

Walking down the stairs with one eye closed was not a good idea, but I made it. I needed to get ready for work and ate some breakfast with one eye shut. My perception was off, and I spilled coffee on the counter. Missed the bowl when I poured milk.

Back upstairs, I pried my eyelids open that resulted in excruciating pain. I tried to locate the foreign object, but saw nothing. In the shower, I tried rinsing my eye with the faucet, which made me cry out in pain. I wore sunglasses, even though it was quite overcast, so people wouldn’t be like - Is that guy winking at me? Instead, I kept my right eye closed while walking to work, which only made it worse. I bumped into two people, and almost slipped on some ice more than a few times. What’s worse - someone mistaking you for winking at them, or out right bumping into people like you just finished a three day bender?

I couldn’t keep my eye shut at work, and besides, tears were still running down my cheek. I immediately went into the washroom and pried my lids open again. It worked, but was very uncomfortable.

Last week, I noticed someone on the other side of my office wore an eyepatch. This seemed like a bold fashion statement at the time. I bumped into him when I left the washroom, and said, “Can I ask you something?” He nodded, and I continued, “What’s with the eyepatch?” He explained to me that he had complications from Lasek eye surgery and was in talks with his lawyers. I didn’t need to know that last part, but at least I knew there was a bigger application than just fashion.

I bought myself an eyepatch. It did the trick. The problem was that it was difficult to pull off an eyepatch if you didn’t have a botched Lasek surgery to fall back on. I started to feel ostracized and alone. I heard people talking behind my back. On my way home from work one day, I stopped in a bookstore. Looking at books always made me feel better. When I went to pay for a book, the person behind the cash, a middle-aged fellow, wore a monocle. We looked at each other, me with my eyepatch and him with his monocle, and we just nodded at each other. Someone finally understood me.

A few days later, I had to buy some food for my fish, so I also stopped by the local pet store. As I perused the fish aisle, I heard a squawking coming from another part of the store. The parrot caught my eye as soon as I came into view. It’s like we found each other. That night, I taught him some words to repeat back to me, and we bonded.

You might say that a man walking down the street wearing an eyepatch and a parrot resting on his shoulder was a strange sight. A few weeks prior, I probably would have agreed with you. But not anymore. Although, most people on the street would still agree with you.

Petey and I liked to go for long walks through the city. Petey was obviously my parrot. One day we were walking along the waterfront where people docked their boats. I came across a small sailboat that had a for sale sign out front. I looked at Petey and he nodded his head. I purchased the sailboat and set sail the next morning. I took from my landlocked life only the bare essentials. I had never sailed a boat before, but it was like I had done it in another life and just waking up to remembering my true vocation. We made our way to the ocean.

And that was how I ended up spending the rest of my days sailing the seven seas as Paul ‘The Patch’ Pirate.

Paul Dore