Sheyn Aoygn (Pretty Eyes) by
(269 Stories)

Prompted By The Eyes Have It

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When I was young, I remember my grandmother telling me in Yiddish that I had “sheyn aoygn” (see featured image). For a girl growing up in the 50s, her assessment didn’t mean much to me. My eyes were dark brown, but the Hollywood ideal was a blue-eyed blond. Thus, I pondered what I could do to make myself more attractive in the eye department.

My eyes were dark brown, but the Hollywood ideal was a blue-eyed blond. Thus, I pondered what I could do to make myself more attractive in the eye department.

“Boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses,” or maybe they do. They seemed to like Carol a lot in fifth grade, and she had really cool glasses. Maybe I could ruin my eyes by reading in poor lighting? No such luck. In my twenties, I relied on eye make-up — tons of eye liner and mascara — to recapture my grandmother’s assessment of my eyes. I would have to wait until middle-age attacked my eyes to wear those glasses I coveted when I was young but no longer wanted.

Lots of eye makeup

Now that I could finally get reading glasses, I hated them. The first problem was, where did I put them down? Easily solved by buying several pairs from the drug store, although they often tended to congregate in one room while I still searched the house. The solution was simple — a chain around my neck to hold them. These chains were beaded and took the place of necklaces, especially at work.

Sadly, time marched on and now I needed bifocals. This is where glasses and I parted ways. After paying for bifocals and graduated lenses, my brain could not make the adjustment to allow me to read. It was time to try mono-vision contacts (one eye for reading and the other for distance). This was a major hurdle for a flincher like me, but nevertheless, I persisted. And for several years, I was happy.

Until … I started to see halos when driving at night and the print on the newspaper began to blur. Yep, it was cataract time. I had only one request for my ophthalmologist: I didn’t want to see his fingers or an instrument approaching my eye. Apparently, for eye #1 I could have used more sedation because I had to fight my flinching reflex. He remembered my reaction when doing eye #2, which I barely remember. And here I am, writing this with no glasses or contacts. Because my brain was used to mono-vision for contacts, that’s what I chose for my cataract surgery.

My distance eye needs a bit of a boost when I drive, but I can keep those glasses in the car. My reading eye only needs help with the fine print in newspapers, so I am back to readers for that. But on my computer, reader, and phone, I’m good to go. Which is a good thing because right now I want to read the newspaper, and I have no idea where those reading glasses are.

Oh, here they are

Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

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Characterizations: funny, moving, right on!, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Yes, your grandmother got it right, Laurie. Funny how we never appreciate what we have. You have very pretty eyes and you are lucky that mono-vision works for you. That would drive me crazy, so it’s a no-go for me. I’ve had problematic vision for most of my life, but do what I can to adjust. You’ve had great success with your adaptations. Good for you!

  2. John Shutkin says:

    Great story, Laurie, and follows a similar arc with Suzy’s and Betsy’s as to the great benefits of cataracts and other eye surgeries. Unfortunately, modern science has not created a cure for “Where did I leave my reading glasses?” — except maybe Croakies.

  3. Khati Hendry says:

    Your grandmother was right—nice pictures of your pretty eyes. With all the things that can, and do, go wrong with eyes it is a wonder that we now have remedies for so much. I feel sorry for all the people over the ages that had no way of correcting their vision. Of course life expectancy was less, but still.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      You are so right that we are blessed with many options to improve our vision. Although I have a friend who had a botched cataract surgery and lost much of her vision. She was an avid reader, so that was such a huge loss for her, even with audio books.

  4. Fun to read Laurie, altho sorry the ocular trials and tribulations you went thru weren’t fun for you at the time.

    But your grandma might say – in Yiddish – “all’s well that ends well”’

  5. Dave Ventre says:

    Despite her full-blooded Italian heritage, Gina has icy blue eyes. They run in her family. Our niece, a nurse and also utterly Italian genetically, stares over her surgical mask with the most entrancing baby blues.

    But until I met Gina, I was all about the brown-eyed girls….

    And thanks for the inspiring title!

  6. Marian says:

    I’ve been through many of those stages, Laurie, especially with readers all around the house, but because I never had monovision contact lenses, the doctors were pretty sure my brain wouldn’t accommodate. Still, I am grateful that for middle distance, I can see perfectly well. I went through the eye makeup stage also, even being blue eyed. Now that I have a condition that makes wearing eye makeup irritating, I really miss mascara, because my lashes are really light.

  7. Suzy says:

    You do have beautiful eyes, Laurie! I have never seen that word “aoygn” before, and I”m not even sure how to pronounce it. Glad the cataract surgery worked out pretty well for you. I opted for the one eye for near and one for far too, because I thought that’s what my contacts had been, but it turned out I was wrong! Luckily, my brain was able to adjust like yours.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      I have no idea how to pronounce that either. The English transliteration does not sound like what my grandmother said. With neither of my parents alive, I will never know how it really sounded. As far as cataract surgery goes, we were both lucky.

  8. Ah, searching for eyeglasses is almost as much fun as searching for contacts. Many’s the time. I love it when the search ends when I realize I’ve pushed them up on my forehead. Sometimes that realization takes awhile. What amuses me most is my behavior, perhaps like others, in how we carry out our searches. Looking again and again in the same places as if we could possibly have overlooked them the first time. And ignoring the most logical places.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      OMG, Tom, I’ve done the head thing so many times. That’s where I find my driving glasses half of the time. Sometimes, my glasses do turn up where I have been looking for some time. I just gloss over them as my eyes sweep the room. Thankfully, my husband is really good at finding them.

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