I’ve always had a secret affinity for people that have a wonk eye. You know what a wonk eye is; that kind of eye that spaces off on its own like it has its own agenda. Some people see the wonk eye as a social inhibitor, something that distracts away from conversation. However, I kind of see a wonk eye as a special feature that is just too cool for the conversation. I want to be the wonk eye’s friend. I want to convince it to join us. The wonk eye is exclusive and allusive, and I’ve wanted nothing more my entire life than to befriend people that have the wonk eye.
Sometimes, in my spare time, I practice the wonk eye, hoping to perfect its cool charm, its wandering nature, its totally “screw this situation, I’m going off on my own” attitude. And this fascination is nothing new; I think back to my early days going turtle fishing (which is another post, entirely). We would go up to one of my dad’s friend’s pond and cast out our lines and wait for the turtle to eat the bloody chicken at the end of the line. In the mean time, Casey and I would go and wander about the place finding something to preoccupy ourselves with. Most of the time, I would pick flowers, which honestly should have been a pretty good indicator of later assumptions, but I digress. One day, I came across her like a bright shining star in the black night sky. Her name was Thelma, and she was every bit of eighty years old. She had cats, and when I say that, I don’t say it lightly. She had a lot of cats, and they were all kind of skinny and sketch like her. Once I had gotten to know Thelma better, I would pet all of her cats and sometimes get all the little crusty cat eye boogers out of their eyes, unaware of how disgusted I would one day be at the idea of this task. I wasn’t really sure where Thelma lived, though I was told she was a neighbor. I always assumed that it was in the broken down shed that all the cats ran out of when Casey and I would show up with our parents to go turtle fishing.
Thelma was pretty cool though; she had a rickety voice and couldn’t have weighed more than seventy pounds, and the first thing I noticed about her was that wonk eye. It was my first experience with a wonk eye, and I loved it. It just kind of rolled around in the middle of our conversation, and I couldn’t help but think that it was just off doing its own thing. I would go to school and tell everyone about my friend named Thelma and cross my eyes as hard as I could. Eventually, Mrs. Ellis would pull me aside and explain that it wasn’t nice to make fun of people; that woman had an issue with her eye, and she couldn’t help it. I desperately tried to explain to her that I wasn’t making fun of Thelma or her eye. In fact, I loved it, and I told her that I wished one day my eye would do that. Like most of my first grade conversations with Mrs. Ellis, she didn’t understand my logic, so she gave me a yellow light and that was that.
After that, fate willed me to be the wonk eye whisperer. I started finding all kinds of people with wonk eyes, and I did everything in my power to befriend them. My Uncle Ralph had a girlfriend named Ruth. She had a pretty boss wonk eye, too. Once my grandma passed away, I asked if she would step in and be my mamaw, and she delightfully accepted. So in the early years when we would go to Christmas or Thanksgiving celebrations, I would hang out with Ruth and tell her about the trials and tribulations of elementary school, and I would silently admire that floating orb of intrigue as she responded back to me. I never really understood the irony that my seventy-something year old uncle brought his equally elderly girlfriend to family occasions every year, but I loved her moxie and charm. I was running into an issue though: before middle school, both Thelma and Ruth passed away. All my wonk eye friends were leaving me. I needed something more permanent and a little less Harold and Maude.
That’s when I met my middle school sweetheart, Brittany. She had a wonk eye and a much longer life-expectancy. She was a pretty neat girl and really helped expose me to the youthful lifestyle that a wonk eye could offer. Everyone always wanted to ask about what was going on with her eye, and I considered myself her wonk eye ambassador. At times, I would become violently defensive of it and go on to explain that her wonk eye was what made her special (which in retrospect may have been as big of an insult as directly making fun of the wonk eye…). But sadly, we began to realize that the basis of our relationship was essentially her eye. She loved me for defending it, and I loved her for having it, and if I’ve learned anything about relationships thus far, it’s that you can base romantic feelings off of a single physical deformity.
The wonk eye is kind of like an added bonus at this point, sort of like when you find a set of fantastic deleted scenes on your favorite movie’s DVD. I don’t actively search for the wonk eye these days, but I do actively appreciate it when I stumble upon it. These days, the only good wonk eyes I have in my life are the couple friends that I have that seem to acquire one when they drink a little too much. I don’t ever bring it up to them, but that same childish charm comes rushing back when I notice it. Sometimes, I’ll even call them to see if they’ve been drinking and invite myself over for a chat. Like many things that have been misunderstood in my life, my love for the wonk eye is nothing that comes out of malice or judgment… just yet another one of my misunderstood conceptions about life. One day, my goal is to persuade all the wonk eyes of the world to come back to the conversation and pay attention to me. That’s when I know that I have truly arrived: when I’m cool enough to persuade the wonk eyes of the world to focus on me.