I have a patient who recently bought 50 chickens. She and her husband are retired and they like to stay busy. So they bought 50 chickens and built a little chicken condominium. She told me that the chickens are very affectionate and that as soon as she sits down, the little chicks jump up on her lap to be petted. But this has become a bit of a problem now that the chickens weigh an average of eight pounds.

This lady could afford 50 chickens, but she cant afford to get new glasses, at least not from me. Peopleall peoplewill pay any amount of money for what they want. Spending money on what they need, however, is a different story. We are all like this lady. We all have 50 chickens, so to speak, that we choose to buy.

Since I live in a little podunk town, I wonder what the equivalent of 50 chickens might be in the big city? What do big city optometrists have to overcome with their patients? As I often do, I sent my best investigators throughout the United States to observe the 50 Chicken Effect in the real world. Here are their findings.

Chicago: Patient has to over-wear contact lenses because he cant afford new boxes due to a recent EBay purchase of a baggieful of Mike Ditkas eyebrow trimmings.

Albuquerque: Patient determines he can save money on glasses by buying the See Kokopellic Method at neighbors yard sale.

Honolulu: Patient asks if local O.D. will trade services for pupu.

Hollywood: Patient asks optometrist at Botox-and-speed-dating-cocktail-party to diagnose odd crevice located on brow line between her eyes. Doctor diagnoses belly button.

Brooklyn: For a nice pair of sunglasses, patient says he knows people and offers to get rid of doctors problems because things get broke.

Houston: Kinda busy on the back 40 but, doc, can you call in some eyedrops? I got cowpoked in the eye last week. Oh, and YEEEHAHHH!

Seattle: My investigators report that the average Seattlite spends $6,734.29 per year on low fat latte with a whiff of mocha. No wonder they cant afford an eye exam.

Cleveland: Get an eye examination because my eyes water? Everyones eyes water. This is Cleveland.

Baltimore: Why get my eyes checked? I am a doctor.

Key West: Id love to come in for an exam but Im tied up putting the lime in the coconut this week.

Fargo: I know its time to update these glasses, ya know, but ders this problem with what my propane might cost me what with this winter comin in, and hows Millies cat, eh?

Las Vegas: Kinda short this month, but lemme ask ya, doc You got those glasses that see through cards?

Memphis: Eye exam? No thankyouverymuch.

It goes on and on.

Man, everyone in America must have their own 50 chickens to buy before deciding what to spend on eye care and glasses. Kinda drives you crazy when 50 chickens take priority over needed health care, doesnt it?

Well, look in the mirror, too. You have your own 50 chickens that are at the top of your own list of priorities.

Now if youll excuse me, I have to post a bid on EBay for a Hawaiian shirt once worn by a waiter who once served Jimmy Buffett. What better way could I spend a measly $7,500?

I dont really need that appendix removed right now.

Vol. No: 142:11Issue: 11/15/2005