By Jerry Zezima
I spy with my swollen eye, which got that way because of a stye.
It may come as no surprise that when I took poetry in high school, I wasn’t a very good pupil. That my pupil was recently covered by an inflamed eyelid was a big surprise to me, especially after my wife, Sue, told me to put a hot teabag on the painful peeper and started calling me “Winky.”
I became a double-visionary when I felt something — an eyelash, a piece of dirt, possibly a ham sandwich — in my left eye.
Wisely avoiding the temptation to use a metal rake to remove the ocular invader, I stuck a finger in my eye, though not in the same stern manner that Moe often poked Larry, Curly or Shemp in order to disabuse his fellow Stooges from abusing him.
It didn’t work. So I tried flooding my eye with shower water. That only compounded the problem. So did an inadvertent squirting of soap, which burned like hell.
A couple of days later, my left eyelid had ballooned to the size of — you guessed it — a balloon, though without “Happy birthday!” written on it.
My lid was so red that if I had stood on a street corner, cars may actually have stopped.
“What’s going on, Winky?” Sue asked cheerily.
“My eyelid is about to erupt like Mount St. Helens,” I grumbled.
“You have a stye,” she informed me. “Put a hot teabag on it.”
Sue should know, not only because she has had this ailment herself, but because she drinks approximately half the world’s supply of tea. If she saved a year’s worth of bags, they would be piled as high as the Empire State Building.
I boiled some water, poured it in a cup, dunked in a teabag, pressed it to my eyelid and let out a scream that rattled the windows.
“You have to make the teabag as hot as you can stand it,” Sue said.
“That’s all I can stand,” I replied, echoing Popeye. “I can’t stands no more.”
So I went to a walk-in clinic and saw Dr. Lindsey Schuster, who asked if I use glasses.
“Only those that hold wine or beer,” I responded.
“You have a stye,” she said before prescribing an antibiotic ointment. “If it doesn’t work, you should see an eye doctor.”
The ointment didn’t work, so I went to see Dr. Howard Weinberg.
“You have a stye,” he said.
“My wife told me to put a hot teabag on it,” I told him.
“What happened?” Dr. Weinberg wondered.
“It scalded my eyelid,” I reported. “And the caffeine kept my eye open all night.”
“I’ve seen a lot more styes lately,” he said. “They’re caused by the face masks people wear. Their breath goes into their eyes.”
“What if they have bad breath?” I asked.
“Then,” Dr. Weinberg answered, “they’ll get stink eye.”
“What can I do to get rid of the stye?” I wanted to know.
“Get a baked potato, wrap it up nice and hot, and put it on your eye,” Dr. Weinberg said.
“Will that help?” I asked.
“No,” he replied. “But at least you’ll have something to eat.”
The good doctor, who believes that laughter is the best medicine, then gave me an eye exam. I passed with limping colors.
“You have 20/30 vision in your left eye and 20/40 in your right,” he said. “Not bad for someone of your age. And definitely not as bad as this one patient who put a paddle over one eye, covered his other eye with his hand and said, ‘I can’t see.’ And he didn’t even have a stye.”
“What about mine?” I asked.
“Put a warm compress on it,” Dr. Weinberg said. “And enjoy the baked potato.”
Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima