Switched Off

CHARLES GARABEDIAN is a painter in Los Angeles. This isn’t him. Our CHARLES, 35, is a legally blind father of one living in mid-Missouri. He wears a logo-less off-black American Apparel baseball hat and a “Best Show on WFMU” T-shirt illustrated by Michael Kupperman. His shorts, manufactured by the great outdoor company Gramicci, are khaki. He holds a waxy-tasting to-go cup full of slightly chilled unsweetened iced tea sold to him by a young woman he’s not so legally blind he can’t tell was scowling. The iced tea cost two dollars.

CHARLES GARABEDIAN: A few months ago I had a rogue eyelash — maybe a few — that started pointing the wrong way. Every time I blinked they would scrape painfully across my eye. This led to a corneal abrasion, and the Dennis Lubbe Eye Institute prescribed antibiotics. These came in the form of eyedrops, suspended in a tiny bottle that I kept rattling in a tiny white cardboard box. About a month ago I decided to go off the medication that I was using to treat my macular edema

SPRIGHTLY NYMPH: Is that related to the corneal abrasion?

CB: Nope. It’s related to my RP tho

SN: RP = yr degenerative retinal condition, the thing that has made you so legally blind

CB: Yes. The medication I was taking for the macular edema was giving me tinnitus and I figured out I could take eye drops that don’t induce tinnitus instead. I have to take them twice a day. This morning I rummaged in the Zabars tray that once held the Babka & Rugelach Crate that the celebrated children’s book author sent us on the occasion of the birth of our son

SN: And which you purchase for your friends whenever any of them have children

CB: The experience of eating gift-rugelach through a thick veil of exhaustion was indelible.

SN and CB both imagine the words indelible and inedible anthropomorphized, wearing black jeans, and making out in the back of a rock club in Manhattan in the early 1980s

CB [cont] And the Zabar’s mug and crate stick around as a memory not just of the author’s generosity but also a form of solidarity: other dads, other babies, have been through this too

SN: I hate the pseudo-embattled rhetoric of new parents. It’s not that hard! People are dying!

CB: What are you talking about, it is super hard

SN: Oh yeah OK Fine

CB: So last night before watching the season finale of Silicon Valley

SN: A really funny and well-written show

CB: I administered the eyedrops upstairs and left them there. Then this morning I went to look for the drops downstairs and half-remembering that they were upstairs was confused but lazily gratified when I found them in the Zabar’s crate downstairs. So I went ahead and administered the drops into mine eyes. Then, later this morning, I was upstairs and what the–

SN: You found the drops.

CB: Upstairs. This was wrong. They were downstairs five minutes ago. So I looked at the little rattling cardboard box

SN: And it was the antibiotics.

CB: Yep. And the scary part is that I can’t remember or I don’t know if these last three weeks when I’ve been administering antibiotics or when I’ve been taking the topical Dorzolamide or accidentally alternating days or what. I wasn’t even aware I had two bottles going.

SN: You’d forgotten about the existence of the antibiotics.

CB: The boxes and bottles are identical.

SN: I think you’ll be OK. Antibiotics can’t hurt you.

CB: Thank you. It might explain why the Dorzolamide hasn’t been working. I think the danger of antibiotics is more like developing antibiotic resistance which is scary but whatever.

SN: I’m curious to see if you’ll notice a difference in your vision after taking JUST the dorzolamide for a few weeks starting now

CB: I hope so, because these days I’m seeing the world through a vaseline-smeared sheet of plexiglass you guys