Close call with contact calamity

By Tammy Keith Originally Published October 6, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated October 4, 2013 at 11:39 a.m.
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Finding a needle in a haystack is easier than finding a lost contact lens, unless you’re lucky.

Or, flag down a woman named Carol.

My husband has worn glasses since second grade, and he’s worn contacts for 35 years.

My eyesight was just fine until the day I turned 40; then my arms weren’t long enough to see anything. (Seriously, you need a magnifying glass like Tim Allen used in The Santa Clause to read washing labels on clothing.)

Every once in a while, my husband loses a contact. Once, I remember we were in a movie theater with our squirmy, second-born then-toddler son, who sat on my husband’s lap and bumped his head into my husband’s eye. My husband whispered that he’d lost a contact, and we unsuccessfully looked and felt for it in the dark on the sticky floor.

The other night, we were walking later than usual, and he stopped.

“A big bug flew in my eye and knocked out my contact,” he said.

It was dark, and we were on an asphalt street, although close to a streetlight. I told him not to move. Maybe it was on his shirt, which was also black.

He was uncharacteristically pessimistic about finding it, but I thought we could. He took our little blinking safety lights and held them to the ground, looking with his one good eye. He wears hard contacts and doesn’t have a spare pair, so he wasn’t happy.

I told him I was going to knock on a stranger’s door and ask for a flashlight, which I did. Before then, I saw two women and a dog coming up the street, so I yelled, told them what happened and asked if they had a cellphone with a flashlight app. They didn’t. As the nice woman in the house went to get a flashlight for me, I heard, “We found it!”

Carol, one of the walkers, also wears contacts. She asked my husband, “Is it blue?” He said it was, and she looked on the black street with the dim glow of a streetlight and somehow found it immediately.

We thanked her profusely, and my husband carried the contact home. He also said that “big bug” was possibly a bat.

He told me all kinds of lost-contact stories on the rest of our walk. Once, he said, when he was in the high school band, they marched off the football field after halftime, and he felt a contact pop off into the grass by the concession stand. A police officer cleared the crowd from the area, and people searched with him, and he believes it might have been Ed Grissom who found it — basically a needle in a haystack.

Another time, he said, he was in college, running to his car in the rain at night, carrying his books in his hands and his keys in his mouth. The keys flew up and hit him in the eye. That time, he didn’t bother to search long for the contact.

My husband also told me about his brother who was working with cattle on their farm, and a cow flicked its tail and knocked out his brother’s contact. That was a lost cause.

I’m sure everybody who wears contacts has a lost-contact story.

At the eye-doctor’s office last week, I told the assistant how I never want to take off my “reading” glasses. She suggested that maybe I’d want to try contacts.

No, thanks. If Carol isn’t on call 24 hours a day, I don’t think I want to risk it.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or