Friday, November 18, 2011

"The Horror of the Eye!!"

When I was about three years old, I had an accident that destroyed the vision in my right eye. I don’t really remember any of it, but from what I’ve been able to figure out from my mom and other sources, I’d found a broken Coke bottle in the front yard (we lived off a dirt road where teenagers would often speed by and toss things out their windows) and decided for some reason that playing with a broken bottle was JUST the thing to do. The teen-age girl who was baby-sitting me at the time freaked out when she saw what I had. She moved to knock the bottle out of my hand, and wound up hitting it directly into my face.
The result was a cut iris and a severed muscle on the left side of the eye. I was rushed to the hospital, where, because my mom was poor and didn’t have insurance, I was left waiting in the emergency room for over an hour—in shock.
They didn’t bother to try to fix the damage. For a couple months after that, I wore an eye-patch, and oddly enough, had to learn how to walk all over again. My balance was shot, so it was a challenge. I remember, vaguely, walking down the hall and veering off, running into the wall. I also remember laughing about it, until looking up to see my mom in tears. Weird memory.
Since then, I’ve had some small amount of peripheral vision in that eye, but just barely. Cover up my left eye and I can’t see shit, really. And since the muscle was severed, the right eye drifts to the right.
Believe it or not, this messed-up eye never had much effect on my life. When I was a kid, the drifting effect was hardly noticeable. As a teen, when it started drifting more, it still wasn’t too bad—this was the post-punk ‘80’s, remember, and wonky eyes (a la David Bowie) could actually work in your favor when it came to girls (which was more or less my sole concern in those days).
In the last ten years or so, though, the drifting has grown continuously worse, to the point where I get occasional head-aches from it, and it’s more immediately apparent to people I meet. Honestly, I’ve gotten a bit self-conscious about it, for the first time in my life. Whenever I see photos of myself, I’m always startled and a bit mortified by it. It sorta makes me look like a sleazy psychopath. And I am NOT sleazy.
…which is my long-winded way of explaining why I hate having my picture taken. A couple days ago, my friend, the photographer Ron Warren, took a series of shots of me (he needed an excuse to use his new studio, which is pretty rad, by the way) and I was the test subject. He got some really good photos. But I vetoed many of them, because of that damn eye. It just looks… weird.
So I’m thinking of getting surgery, just to pull the eye back to the goddamn center where it belongs.
Or who knows? Maybe sleazy psychopath is a look that works for me.


  1. I don't know, Heath. Sleazy psychopaths are so 2009. But then again, maybe you could start a whole new retro movement.

  2. Wow. Based on that story, I just went to and bought The Bastard Hand. I'd been hesitating up until now. But I really want you to have that surgery!

  3. I had eye surgery as a kid for a crossed eye. I would only have the surgery to help your vision/balance. Or if it's likely to get worse if you don't.
    You are a very good-looking guy and that's what everyone takes away from meeting you. Good-looking, smart, nice.

  4. I think your eye is so "Ninja"! I have been trying to sneak up behind you for 35 years and you catch me every time! I think I'll try dropping from the ceiling from now on. If your eye is causing you pain then fix it, but don't be embarrassed by it, it hasn't stopped you from being awesome.

  5. I agree about the goodlooking guy part. In your previous profile picture, it wasn't actually noticeable at all, and rather than "sleazy psychopath" it read (to this mostly-straight girl, anyway) as "bleary but badass." As others said, if it hurts, then get it fixed, but if it's just because you're worried it makes you look like a psycho, then maybe stop worrying. But I'm no one to tell you how to live your life.

  6. I swear I wasn't fishing for compliments, but I really do appreciate the comments. This post maybe makes it sound as if the eye is something I worry about a great deal-- I really don't, I swear. It was just something I happened to be thinking of at the time. As I mentioned, it hasn't had a huge effect on my life, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't painfully aware of it on occasion.
    Thanks, everyone, for the kind comments!