My six-month eye exam has become bothersome. Placing my chin on a piece of plastic, I lean forward, focusing on a tiny yellow light while enduring ten minutes of having to spot smaller lights, each one flashing on the periphery for a nano-second.
Spotting these specks, I am supposed to press a clicker while a nurse hovers six inches away, monitoring my every move.
Except this day, I found a way to beat the boredom of it.
Before shuffling off not to Buffalo but into the margins of football history, I was a college quarterback. The very first rule pounded into me was, when passing, lock the safety in place by focusing on his eyes, fifteen-yards downfield, so he cannot react in time when you are throwing away from him deep.
Picture if you will Eli Manning finding Mario Manningham for a key first down on that final drive to glory in Super Bowl XLVI, Manning indeed locked onto the safety’s eyes so he could not get over fast enough to stop the critical sideline completion.
In today’s test, I treated that blinking orb as if it were a safety. Depending upon where I caught the light, I clicked while shouting out the route that would have been run to get there. Upper right was a corner route, a blink to the far left was a sideline, directly over the safety was a post, while lower on my Field of Dreams the light signified a draw play. The faster the nurse ran the lights, the faster I responded. She tried to catch me napping with a light far off to the right but I immediately recognized it as the dreaded bubble screen.
She seemed to be lighting her lights faster and faster, testing my ability to keep up.
She became increasingly more engaged as the game wore on, testing my ability to recognize and name every route. She challenged me once by following up a sideline route with a light appearing quickly halfway down from the safety light, oh so wrong in her assumption that I’d miss the duplicitous drag route into vacated areas run by backs coming out of the backfield!
I was playing “Gaugin of the Gridiron” to her Nurse Ratched, a “Picasso of the Pigskin” to her Frau Blucher.
Even her feeble effort at switching to my other eye failed. Corner, fly, swing, hook, hitch, I was picking them off one-by-one, putting out her lights as soon as they appeared. She finally gave up and reluctantly turned on the fluorescent bulb above us, breathlessly admitting, “Coach, you’re the first person to ever beat the machine. I’ve never had anybody with your perfect peripheral vision before. I want to see you again in six months, or hopefully even sooner!”
Eat your heart out, Aaron Rodgers.