Here’s looking at you, Big Type
Burt's Eye View
I checked out library books from the Large Print section. On purpose.
The times and the eyes, they are a-changin’. As is where I do my book browsing.
I used to chuckle at old people who took off their glasses to see. Senility setting in, I figured. Why else pop off the peepers to peer at pages?
I haven’t completely ruled out senility. But the same glasses that make it possible for me to distinguish shapes more than six feet away blur the fine print at six inches. Instead of trying to find the sweet spot on my bifocals, it’s easier to yank off the goggles, pull the paper to the tip of my nose and read with clarity.
Once again, what Young Burt saw as senility, Old – er, Mature – Burt now perceives as solid sense.
As usual, my wife is at the opposite end of the spectrum from where I live. She was cursed with far-sightedness. That means, if she hopes to read anything without glasses, she has to hold it as far away as possible.
I’ve spent many a night standing across the living room, holding the novel she’s reading. Every so often, the silence is broken by her command: “Turn the page.” So I do.
I’m buying her a telescope for Christmas.
She’s getting me a purple washcloth to wipe the newsprint off my schnozz.
It’s a rite of passage shared by the most superhuman of us. I know this because I read (close up and without my glasses) the “Sight Gags” panel drawn by optometrist and cartoonist Scott Lee titled, “When superheroes hit their 40s …”:
A caped crusader sits in the exam chair and laments to his eye doctor, “My X-ray vision is blurry, my heat vision is only lukewarm, my eyes get dry while I fly and now it’s hard to read small print.”
I know, Supes, I know. I never had X-ray vision (and Mom wouldn’t let me buy the X-ray glasses advertised in the back of superhero comic books), but once I could read the directions on medicine bottles without removing my glasses.
Except back then, I didn’t have pill bottles. That’s another thing that’s changed. Now that I no longer can read them, my doctor insists on giving me more of them.
Anyway, I sat in the library the other day, resting my creaky knees, when I noticed I’d found the Large Print section. I always thought they were full of musty old titles about musty old people.
I found biographies of Roy Rogers, Carol Burnett, John F. Kennedy and Albert Einstein. Well, OK, Einstein was a little before my time, but the rest of them, all current and relevant personalities from my childhood just a couple of years ago. Let’s see, it’s 2016 now, so subtract… carry the five … and, um … Oh.
Maybe we could use a good dusting.
Anyway, I’m sure the real problem is that publishers, to save money, shrunk the type. It’s the only logical explanation.
It also means that Robert Fulghum was right when he wrote “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” (It’s in the Large Print section. The book’s probably in small print section, too, but I couldn’t make out the titles.)
What I learned in kindergarten was this: Books with big letters are the most fun.
Plus, they’re usually fully of silly pictures. And you don’t have to squint.
— Send Cole messages in big type at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.