No, not those who step out on their spouses or significant others. Nor those who throw sporting events dependent upon Vegas oddsmakers. Or even those who may stack the deck when playing a high stakes game of Go Fish. Nope, what I’m talking about is the eyewear that helps those of us of a certain age and visual impairment read even more than the small print. Not really sure why they are called cheaters – maybe because we’re cheating the eyewear industry since buying them only costs a few bucks at the local dollar store – or maybe its because they are not prescription eyewear but more like magnifying glasses fitted into frames, thus we are cheating the eyewear industry in that manner. Doesn’t matter really, they do the trick when one doesn’t require prescription lenses so why not?

Once upon a time when I was working the merc table (that sounds so in the know, doesn’t it? Merc table instead of merchandise table) when author Michael Perry paid a visit to the Park Falls Public Library, he remarked that cheaters should be spread about by planes flying overhead, in the like manner of crop dusting, so that those of us of a certain age and visual impairment would never run out of them. I concur and am fully onboard with the idea. Of late we’ve come down to only two pairs of working cheaters in our household. Well three if you count the one that has only one whatever you call the thing that runs alongside one’s temple and behind the ear, the other having fallen off in mid-read, as workable. See when the COVID-19 lockdown occurred I didn’t hoard toilet paper or hand sanitizer, but pairs of cheaters. Alas, since they are cheap, or inexpensive if one prefers, they often do not stand up well to prolonged use. Still, I figure at $2, $3 or even $5 a pair, if I get six months to a year out of them before they become misplaced or broken, I’m still ahead of the game.

Of late there have been cheater offerings in catalogs that are pretty blinged out. A gal could go wild. There are some with rhinestones in a variety of colors on the whatever you call the thing that runs alongside one’s temple and behind the ear. There are leopard prints, zebra prints, cheetah prints, birds, butterflies and horseshoes. A veritable smorgasbord of cheaters! Those stylized ones tend to be a bit pricy though and the ones at the local dollar stores at least come in a variety of colors. Personally, I’ve had pink, red, blue, a brownish mix with blue bottoms, very black and plain old brown, though I’ve seen white, yellow, stripes, swirls and squiggles but shied away from them. The plainer stuff is more my cheater style. So I’ll be shopping aka hoarding soon and plan to stick to those old favorites.

Unfortunately, in the past 20 years of cheater-wearing I’ve gone from a 1.25 power to a 2.50 power. I’ve always been terribly far-sighted (at least when visiting the optometrist) and with computer screens and books and such, let alone that tiny print on labels, I need the added ooomp of the 2.50. Rick can still get by with the lower powered pairs, (maybe because now that he’s not working outside of home and farm he avoids the computer like the plague), but we can share in a pinch. Though he likes metal frames and I prefer plastic…

Oh, I got off track of the Michael Perry comment. One reason I agree with the cheaters delivered by crop duster idea is that we should always have at least one spare pair in working order. One never knows when a loss or an accident will occur. My most disturbing, as well as expensive, loss/accident happened when Rick and I were on an Alaskan cruise. I was no cheaters rookie at the time, having been wearing them for years by then, so can’t use that as an excuse. It was simply an attempt at packing frugality that led to my putting one pair of cheaters for each of us in our gear. Mine broke of course. As we were nowhere near a port of call (of course), I had to visit the onboard store to purchase new ones. Extortion on the high seas! They were tagged at an astonishing $19 bucks. I’ll not be caught in that predicament again.

Keep your friends close and your cheaters closer. No, that doesn’t sound right. I’ll just settle for “see” ya later.

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