Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Watching a 3D Movie with 2D Eyes

Last night Audrey and I went to see “Life of Pi” at the Clearview Cinema in Ridgewood. It was a Tuesday night, and Optimum Reward customers (those who are beholden to Cablevision for nearly all of their communication needs) are able to see movies for free on Tuesdays. Except we had to pay $3.75 per ticket this time in order to see the 3D version of the film. I could have saved my money. Not because the movie wasn’t touching and beautiful. It was both. No, because I have discovered another defect in my body. I am unable to see 3D effects. Audrey and others in the audience were “ooo-ing” and “ahh-ing” as a parrot, snake, or tiger nearly jumped into their laps off of the screen. For me, the animals stayed in 2D, special glasses or no special glasses. I am a 3D dud, it appears.

Rushing home, I got out my trusty iPad and typed in “why am I unable to see 3D effects?” The answer came back quickly and in multiple entries (since I am obviously not the first person to ask this question). According to a site called MediaCollege.com I may be “stereo-blind.” My eyes often operate independently of each other in what is called monocular vision. Another website had this to say about my possible deficiency, “Monocular vision is not normal for a human with two functioning eyes, although it is normal for many animals like horses.” Oy!

Back to the MediaCollege site, I am warned that as television and movies move increasingly toward 3D as the norm, I am going to be in trouble or at least am going to feel visually challenged. (Something else to plague me in my advancing years.) What can I do about this: “You will probably be able to purchase glasses that convert 3D movies back into 2D.” Great, now I’ll be paying extra to go back in time, technologically-speaking. Maybe this explains why I didn’t like “Avatar.” And I thought it was because it was a silly story and everybody looked blue to me.

Giving new meaning to the question, "Am I blue?"

My eyes have long been an issue for me and for other people who meet me. I am convinced that everyone has at least one body part with which they have a love/hate relationship. For me, it’s the eyes. On the love side, I am told that my eyes are a beautiful color. They’re green with blue accents and stand out well from my dark complexion. I passed that combination along to my daughter Amanda too.

On the hate side, my eyes have a mind of their own, so to speak. When I was around three years old, doctors told my mother that I had weak or lazy eye muscles that let my eyes wander outward. They suggested two alternatives: (1) I could have an operation to correct the problem but would have to remain pretty still for at least two days until the healing could begin (I was never still in those days), or (2) I could train myself to turn my eyes inward and focus, particularly when I was reading. We chose the second alternative (though I don’t think I had a vote). And, as Frost would say, “that has made all the difference.” I became the child, and later the adult, with the lazy eye muscles. Of course, a lot of my other muscles are pretty lazy too, but that’s another matter entirely.

So what happens if you have lazy eye muscles? For me, it has meant often having to explain to people to whom I am speaking that I am really looking at them and speaking to them. They have doubts because my eyes seem to be roaming off into all directions but toward them. This can be problematic. Recently, I gave a presentation before a group of middle school students and took questions from the audience. Each time, I had to assure the student on whom I thought I was totally focused that I indeed was calling on him or her. It’s those damned 2D eyes at work!

In a real piece of irony, at my first appointment with the internist who has treated us for more than 30 years now, I was struck by the fact that he was really cross-eyed. Not to be outdone, he asked me, “How long have you had a problem with your eye muscles?” What’s that expression about a pot and a kettle? We quickly began focusing on issues other than eyes and haven’t brought up the subject again in all the years. Now, when we meet yearly, neither one of us looks the other directly in the eye.

Eyes were in focus in "The Great Gatsby" too.

Even if my eyes are slightly defective, I really do appreciate them. And I’m consoled by the fact that if I am asked in the future to shell out an extra $3.75 for 3D glasses to see a movie, I can invest the money in half a bag of popcorn instead.

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