Don’t you hate it when there’s something in your eye and it stings and itches and you can’t seem to get it out and your eyes begin to water? That happened to me at work the other day and I was pretty much almost crying in my office. I know you’re not supposed to rub your eyes, but sometimes I can’t help it because they get really itchy. Damn allergies. Also for a long while, my eyes would water every morning as I waited for the bus because the air and the weather were so cold that they had that effect, so it would look like I was just crying when really my eyes would just end up physically watering as a reaction to the cold. Apparently this happened to my sister recently and some guy went up to her and asked if she was okay, because it looked like she was crying.
Anyway, this all made me think of the time when I went to the Bloggers in Sin City conference in Las Vegas a couple years ago. It was less of a conference, and more of a get together where I got to do a lot of fun Vegas things and meet an awesome bunch of people who love social media as much as I do. It was the second day of the conference, and we had our own private party welcome mixer at Serendipity 3, across from the Flamingo. There were lots of appies and drinks. And also games. Because of course with a group of strangers, you’re going to have some sort of ice breaker type thing. I remember we had to pair up and give our partners 8 second hugs. I’m not a hugger, but the hugs were good. The hugs are not what almost destroyed me. What happened after the hugs was.
We had a staring contest. I’m sure most of you have had staring contests at some point in your life. Because it’s a stupid thing that we do because we can. Mostly as children, but why not as adults? But this wasn’t just your average staring contest. It was literally the most intense staring contest, or possibly contest of any kind, that I’ve endured. There were prizes at stake. And good prizes too. There were 68 of us, and with the exception of the organizers, we were all assigned a competitor to begin with. Each group would have a stare off, and the winner of that pair would then move on to face another worthy opponent, and so on and so forth until one of us would emerge victorious.
Now, I’m not very good at a lot of things, competitively speaking. I am terrible at sports. And pretty terrible at video games too. I can do decently at a few boardgames. What sucks is that despite my lack of skill, I’m still a fairly competitive person. I love winning. Because who doesn’t? Don’t we all want to be winners? Since I have zero athletic ability, maybe this was my time to shine. Staring? I was good at that. Hell, I stare all the time. Sometimes I space out and don’t even realize I’m staring. And blinking is so overrated. I could totally do this, no problem.
I fared quite well against my first few opponents. My eyes were open far longer than theirs. Finally, something I was good at. I kept on going, beating every competitor who dared to stare into my eyes, for I stared back into theirs even harder. They were simply no match for my supreme staring ability. And then, there was Larissa.
I didn’t really peg her for someone who was so competitive. Nor did I peg her for someone who could or would make me cry. But she was, and she did. Maybe I had gotten a little too cocky by this point and had just instilled myself with a false sense of confidence? Maybe I had strained my eyes a little at this point from all the previous stare offs? Maybe Larissa was just a superhuman who doesn’t blink like a normal human being? All these things would eventually lead to my downfall.
We stared at each other like no one has ever stared before, our eyes piercing into one another’s as if seeing deep into our souls. Perhaps she enacted some sort of gaze mind control trick, I can’t be too sure. Minutes passed by and neither of us showed signs of blinking. We had our game faces on and would not give in without a fight, no matter how painful. And it was, indeed, painful. As the minutes added up, my eyes eventually began to sting. They were not meant to remain open for this long without blinking. But no pain, no gain, right? I could push through this.
And then came the water works. Tears began to stream down my face. No, more like pour. Rivers just pouring out of my eyes. But still, I did not blink. People watched in horror at this spectacle. Larissa yelled at me to blink, partly because she wanted to win, and partly because I think she was genuinely concerned and slightly horrified that I was literally crying right in front of her. I was a mess. And so was my face. I’m pretty sure I lost more tears that day than on any other day of my life. At one point, I thought I saw Larissa blink but I was mistaken. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t see clearly at that point anyhow. But still I stared on, doing everything in my power to keep my eyes open, despite every fibre of my being telling me I needed to blink. But as more time passed, I just couldn’t take it anymore, and I offered up a single blink. It looked like I was crying because I lost, but really my tear ducts were just still messed up from my lack of blinking. Larissa went on to the final round, beating out Kitty and winning the whole damn competition. I can’t remember what it was exactly that she won. I think it was a gift card and some cell phone stuff. Like good tech stuff. I tried to forget, since I was clearly envious. The whole ordeal had been a lot harder for me than it had been for her, and yet she reaped the rewards.
After my defeat, I had to sit for a while. I know, it wasn’t like it was physically draining activity in terms of strength, but I was still a bit out of it. And I couldn’t see properly. Like my vision was really blurred. I pride myself on having perfect vision and I was worried I may have jeopardized this all for a silly contest. I made my way to try and find the bathroom, and the staff clearly though I was drunk, because I was out of it and stumbling and my makeup was all messed up. Little did they know that this was because I couldn’t see properly. I did my best to wipe away the last of the tears and to salvage my makeup and to gain my vision back. Luckily, I managed to do so.
I don’t know if it’s possible to permanently damage your vision from excessive eye strain or lack of blinking, but I was so paranoid afterwards, especially when time had passed and my vision was still blurred. Thankfully, it all went back to normal eventually and I vowed never to jeopardize my eyes like that ever again. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t secretly dream of a rematch in which I vowed revenge took back the glory that should have been mine…