My parents were always pretty tight with money, but somehow, I managed to persuade them to get me contact lenses. That was in the days when contact lenses were very expensive and had to be cleaned with a cleaning solution and then boiled to disinfect every night.
One summer Saturday, the parents of the two little girls I regularly babysat, told me that I would be babysitting the girls at the house of a friend of theirs that day. As it turned out, a mega-rich friend with a fantastic mansion and enormous swimming pool. The girls would have their cozzies and I could bring mine too. There was another little girl at the friends’ house and I was looking after all three kids while the parents were out.
It was a hot day, and we had such fun playing in the pool. Such fun, that I completely forgot that I was wearing contact lenses. It wasn’t until it was time to go home that noticed that my right contact lens has vanished. Into the pool, obviously.
When I got home, I was terrified of telling my parents. I knew they would not react well My dad yelled at me: did I have any idea how expensive contact lenses are, and why wasn’t I more careful? He said there was only one thing to do: he was going to get his scuba diving equipment and find the missing contact lens in the pool.
Like a drowning fish, I gasped. In disbelief. In horror. Was he completely insane to think it was even remotely possible to find a tiny invisible plastic sliver in a big swimming pool? Did he truly think that the pool owners would let a complete nutcase go scuba diving in their pool? Did he want to ruin my life?
In an instant, he was already putting the scuba gear in the car. I pleaded, I begged, I promised I would never ever be so careless again. Eventually he relented. I’ve never been sure if he realised himself what an idiot he would look like, or if he eventually figured the health insurance would pay for a new contact lens.
The memory still sends shivers of panic and embarrassment up my spine.