Magnified Modernity

You know you’re getting on in years when…you have to buy a magnifying glass. Yep, that’s right, today I purchased my first ever magnifying glass. Not for scientific research, I’m sorry to say,  but in order to read teeny tiny print. Lately I’ve found myself muttering things like “why do they have to make the letters/numbers so damn small?” when looking at print on various objects. For example, my beautiful, sexy, perfectly designed new iPod Touch. It has, apparently, writing on the back of it at the bottom, which is barely visible, much less readable. I can only assume that they don’t want me to know whatever it is – it’s so unreadably petite that it may as well be in Swahili. The iPod also came with free engraving, so I had “Suzanne’s sweet, sweet music” engraved on the back of it. Lovely – I can barely read it, but thank you anyway. But that’s not what prompted the magnifying glass purchase – it was having to read the serial and model number on a malfunctioning headset that drove me to it.

I found myself in the ludicrous situation of wishing to enquire of the manufacturer why certain aspects of the headset were no longer working, and was there an upgrade I could download, but couldn’t read the model number on it, so took a photograph of it for them to identify. Imagine my grumpiness when they replied to say that they couldn’t work it out from the photo, and could I please send them a receipt. No I bloody couldn’t, said receipt having been consigned to the ashes a year ago. So I toddled off to the nearest pharmacy where, sure enough, they not only had a wall of those cheap reading glasses for any occasion, but also magnifying glasses – hurrah. I have now been able to inform the manufacturer, and you if you’d like to know, that the serial number is A0008.

So, I have now joined the ranks of the officially grumpy, muttering persons one sees about the place; one just didn’t expect to be one of them quite so soon. I’ve only had glasses for the last two years (spring chicken that I am), so I am willing to acknowledge that possibly my prescriptions may need updating. I went from no glasses to two pairs – count them- TWO PAIRS in one hit. My optometrist said I needed a pair for reading (I am willing to admit that perhaps I do, as I’m fast running out of arm’s length to hold books at), and another pair for long distance – I euphemistically call these my Driving Glasses. Being a modern woman, I naturally went straight to the quick-fix question: “Can I have laser surgery, now please, and preferably with a cheery selection of pain-killers as an accompaniment?” Regrettably, my particular vision issues can’t be fixed with lasers, and require two different pairs of glasses. As it happens, I now have three – reading glasses, driving glasses, and a magnifying glass. In a twist of fate that can only be described as thoughtless of the manufacturers, the handle of the magnifying glass has numbers and words on it, which you can’t read without (you guessed it) a magnifying glass. I refuse to buy a second magnifying glass to read what’s on the handle of the first magnifying glass.

However, there is an upside to having a magnifying glass; once you start playing with it and holding it in front of all sorts of things, you make many new discoveries. For example, who knew that my mobile phone pda keyboard had three symbols on some of its keys? There’s a funny one that looks like a miniature mobile phone with a squiggle on either side of it – no idea what it does, but now that I know it’s there, I have hours of fun ahead of me.

Of course, the irony has not escaped me that as technology gets newer and tinier, I need old fashioned assistance to deal with it. However, armed with my magnifying glass, I’ll be invincible (ish).

I may also start a magnifying glass collection. One of my venerable Aunts has a rather nice little antique one which she wears around her neck on occasions. I may not be seen in the near future strolling the city streets with a glass around my neck, but I think a nice collection of antique and collectable magnifying glasses is perfectly acceptable, and if I happen to use one or two of them for purposes of magnification, kindly direct your comments to be about the rare and unusual magnifying glass, not the fact that I’m using one. Thank you.

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