Column, Movie Diary

The eyes have it

By Dom Cioffi

I look forward to this time of year, which is why I save up several vacation days to coincide with my company holidays. I use this extra time to partake in various Christmas activities and get numerous household chores accomplished. I also take a lot of naps in front of the fire.

Last Friday was my first day off. I was excited to just wake up, ignore work, and tick off some errands. However, while I did wake up and I did ignore work, after that, nothing went as planned.

While I was sitting in my living room having coffee Friday morning, my phone started to ring. I picked it up and answered and immediately heard the unhinged voice of my father-in-law complaining about his failing eyesight.

About 30 years ago during a New Year’s Eve celebration, my father-in-law unleashed a champagne cork directly into his eye, rendering him legally blind from the left side. He adjusted to the disability and continued to function without much difficulty – until recently when his right eye began to have issues.

The inability to read, watch television, and drive has understandingly upset him and given him great anxiety as he contemplates a life without any clear vision.

However, after a trip to an eye specialist, we were all relieved to hear that the current problem in his right eye would only be temporary.

My father-in-law is a classic hypochondriac, so no matter what news he’s being told concerning his health, he’s going to jump to the worst-case scenario. And while his eye doctor assured him his condition was going to improve, he was convinced his ability to see was ending.

So, when the phone call came in Friday morning and my father-in-law announced that he needed a ride to the eye doctor for an emergency visit, I rolled my own eyes in desperation, knowing I was the only one available to take him.

An hour later, I had him in my truck headed to the clinic.

I half-listened as he droned on about how awful the last 24 hours had been. He was confident his eyesight was heading into some mysterious phase where irreversible damage would be incurred without clinical intervention. He had no scientific or experiential basis for this claim, he was just sure it was happening.

We arrived at the doctor’s office and sat in the waiting room. My father-in-law paced back and forth mumbling about his dire situation while I watched and prayed that the same mental affliction would never corrupt me.

Eventually the doctor examined him and told him absolutely nothing had changed with his vision and, in fact, the swelling that was causing his problems was actually decreasing.

Afterwards, we got into my truck and went to breakfast, and even though he received nothing but good news, my father-in-law was still convinced his situation was hopeless. He repeatedly claimed he could not see anything on the road even though he had just been administered a clinical eye exam.

Once seated at the restaurant, my father-in-law struck up a conversation with the elderly woman sitting alone next to us. He told her he was originally from the Bronx and bragged about his love of the Yankees and ability to still dance at 82 years old.

The woman listened intently and placated his obvious need for attention. I watched as he morphed from a doddering old man into a suave and assured senior citizen.

My father-in-law eventually got up to use the restroom at which point the woman leaned into me and, with a twinkle in her and smile on her face, exclaimed, “You certainly have your hands full!” My reply was, “You have no idea,” at which point we both laughed.

The woman left soon after, wishing us “Merry Christmas” as she walked away.

Eventually the waitress came over and announced that the elderly woman had opted to buy us breakfast. I smiled and thought she must have felt sympathy for my babysitting assignment. My father-in-law, however, was convinced the gesture was a sign that she wanted to date him. Within seconds he had run outside looking for her.

While we stood in the parking lot, I marveled at his sudden ability to pick out elderly women at great distances given his failing eyesight. I thought about mentioning this point but opted not to just to keep his mood up.

Given that this is the Christmas issue, I wanted to find an epic holiday release that would lift the mood for my readers. I’ve perused a dozen selections and every one seemed to be a variation of the “Hallmark” genre. Honestly, I could not find one film that wasn’t a cheezy wanna-be holiday rom-com.

With that said, I’ll suggest you try my favorite holiday film, “Love Actually.” If you’re looking for a well-crafted movie interweaving multiple storylines and a lot of British humor, definitely give this now-classic a try. It’s always been an “A” in my book.

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at

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