December 4, 2023 | Rome, Italy

Blind screws

By |2018-03-21T20:03:34+01:00October 9th, 2016|Area 51|
Small screws included, if you can see them…

augh to keep from crying, you say, and I do. Pour a stiff drink, you suggest, but what if I miss — tears of a clown — and the crystal overflows its banks?

But this is about a magnifying glass, that seemingly outdated bit of 19th-century ornamentation that comes in handy when you can’t see, or barely. Call me barely.

Couldn’t that big-lensed little thing help me with the perusing of day-to-day labels, as in reading the eloquent text on discount coupons or picking up on the names of my latest and many-syllable eye drops (hello, Betabioptal). I remembered back to prints and paintings of aging dowagers eying books or documents, magnifying glasses in hand. I might not be a dowager or look good in a painting but I have two eager albeit small hands. So yes, time to shop for the fabled instrument.

For the record, there is no or but there is the River company, as I call Amazon. Reading their many offers was admittedly challenging (small print remains small print, even online). Yet the possibilities seemed promising and I imagined myself soon being able to defeat the hide-and-seek caprices of four- and six-point type, the kind that dominates all printed instructions. My big lens of choice, advertised as the “Goblet,” would slay these tiny words like ants, turning black dots into the kind of collectively giant wording you’d find on a placard. All for the discounted price of €19, a Made-in-China special the River company swears by (at least when it comes to arcane products). The River company also informed me I’d receive my Goblet within 24-hours, which further whet my appetite and made the instant impulse purchase more agreeable, if not entirely reasonable — the double-trouble rationalizations that can more irrational buyers into debt or bankruptcy.

But these are Trump’s months, right? Best to think big or wildly, or better still not think at all. Just sink into doing.

I did.

And there it was, in 24-hours as promised, the Goblet in a box. My salvation portrayed on the label in heroic colors and held up by a Superman-like figure hovering (as he tends to do) over the word “New!”

I opened my box with a 10-year-old’s Christmas morning zeal, tearing off its lid. Which is when the Chinese Goblet suddenly acquired its (Trump-tuned) sense of humor.

It came in parts. With a gaggle of tiny screws and an equally tiny scroll labeled INSTUCTION, the “R” having wisely chosen not to immigrate, at least not this time.

It turns out my Goblet required assembling and the instructions were in a type size so minute ants and irony got the last laugh.

But the first part of the last laugh came from me, to keep from crying. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, or it’s said. But in a land where even Goblets play tricks on blindly duped owners, laughter has no choice but to duke it out with hapless earls and barons, none them royal enough to read.

About the Author:

Christopher P. Winner is a veteran American journalist and essayist who was born in Paris in 1953 and has lived in Europe for more than 30 years.