I’ve been informed by people who pay attention to such things that I have, as of this month, been writing Chairside for Review of Optometry 12 times each year for 20 years. I want to make a statement to you and ask a question:

• Statement: Thank you for reading Review of Optometry and thank you for reading Chairside. I am very grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to hopefully make you smile or chuckle or maybe, when I am really on, to guffaw. I truly hope that once in a while Chairside makes your day a little funnier.

• Question: What in the wide, wide world is wrong with you people? Haven’t you got more important things to do than join me with your feet propped up on your desks to read the ramblings of, well, me?

The Best Medicine
It is, of course, good to laugh. Many studies have documented that fact. And if you don’t believe me, call Dr. Phil. Better yet, call Oprah. She’s laughing all the way to the bank. Oprah has made more money during the time it took you to read this paragraph than any doctor makes in a year. We are sooooo overpaid!  (I now realize I should have been a professional basketball player. That’s where the money is. Being 98 pounds, 5’8” and a nerdy klutz was no excuse.)

My best friends are all laughers. When we get together, we spend 97.4% of our time laughing. This hilarity does not exclude when we are together when they come in for their eye examinations. In fact, my office for 31 years has been a funny place. My staff, my patients, sales reps, mailmen—we all laugh when we’re together. No, this does not include any extracurricular substances. We all just like to laugh.

I am told by Dr. Oz that laughing is good for your health. Laughing relieves stress, lowers blood pressure, and increases all the good hormones…you know, the ones that don’t lead to homicide, suicide, or TV-icide, which often strikes me when I accidently let my wife control the remote.

My readers are very familiar with the fact that I accidently started a fire in organic lab in college. My professor changed my life by advising me, “Mr. Vickers, you may laugh or you may cry.” I chose to laugh and have never gone back to mopey. Grumpy? Yes. Mopey? No. I choose my dwarfs carefully. (Note: There was not a dwarf named Mopey in the Snow White story, but I think that’s just wrong, OK?)

First, Do No Harm
So, laugh, will ya? Chairside, my column, has not always been funny to everyone. I have received a few letters along the way royally chastising me for making crazy statements that our political opponents—and we all know who that might be—could use against us. Personally, and I mean this with all my love, I couldn’t give a rat’s behind.

I don’t believe for one second that the warped humor of one neurotic, middle-aged O.D. from a little town in West Virginia could derail every good thing about optometry in America. I think the guys who throw in a FREE eye exam with every pair of glasses might be a bit more of a concern than moi. And there may just be a couple of organizations of self-professed friends of private practice that somehow convince us to slit our own throats year after year. At least I can be funny from time to time. Funny? Maybe. Dangerous? Hardly.

To my colleagues and their staffers who read Chairside, may I say, “Wow.” As I am welcome in your life, you are welcome in mine.

Just call first. Not even my preacher is allowed on my porch without an appointment. It’s just how I am. You oughta know that by now.