ANDY ROONEY 2.0: Like synthetic tears in rain


ANDY ROONEY 2.0: Like synthetic tears in rain

Not a Dry Eye in the House

I WAS RUNNING out of artificial tears. I'm running out of artificial tears, I would think to myself each morning, first thing, in silent meter in the blur and glare of the bathroom. ("If you have tears, prepare to shed them now...")

My eye doctor told me to start using artificial tears a few years ago, because my eyes were dry and bothered. My eyes had turned dry and bothered, the doctor said, from decades of wearing contact lenses. The artificial tears solve that problem, one drop in each eye on waking in the morning, before the lenses go in. After I saw the eye doctor that time, in addition to buying my first bottle of artificial tears, I tried to get some more contact lenses. The place that sells glasses and contact lenses told me that the prescription the eye doctor had given me was only for glasses, not for contacts. Assuming there was some mixup, I called up the eye doctors' office to ask for the contacts prescription and they explained that they—the eye doctors!—didn't do contact lens prescriptions anymore.

Back in October, the FDA told people not to use 26 different varieties of artificial tears, because they could have been tainted at the manufacturing plant. The variety I was using was not on the list. I went back and forth checking because the brand name of the artificial tears was instantly forgettable. Mostly the potentially tainted drops were house brands; for instance, there were Rite Aid Lubricant Eye Drops, Rite Aid Gentle Lubricant Gel Eye Drops, Rite Aid Lubricant Gel Drops, Rite Aid Lubricating Gel Drops, and Rite Aid Multi-Action Relief Drops. These were all different products.

All the eye doctor ever said was "artificial tears." When I need them, I pick whichever box has words on it that come closest to "artificial tears," out of whichever products are actually in stock on the depleted drugstore shelves. If I search too far afield, looking for a better match, I start finding other things, like Visine or earwax drops. We used to keep Visine around the house, when I was young, a boring normal sort of drug. Only much later did I read about how it contains a deadly poison. I hadn't known until just now that part of why people keep poisoning other people with Visine is that they wrongly believe the poison is a non-lethal laxative, and also believe, also wrongly, that to dose someone with a laxative would be a funny prank.

I was thinking about buying the new artificial tears online, because shopping at the drugstore has become so impossible. But I had to pick up some prescriptions, so I figured I would try. The artificial tears were right by the pharmacy, on one of the few shelves that still hadn't been locked off behind a plexiglas anti-theft shield. Maybe the shelf of artificial tears could stay open because it was in the pharmacy workers' line of sight. Except when the pharmacy closes for lunch, because the drugstores won't pay for enough workers to cover each other's lunch breaks.

I went well after lunch, and there was no line. Data reception for my powerful pocket computer-phone is weak that deep in the store, so when I do wait in line, I have to look at things around me rather than the screen. Below the pharmacy counter are more shelves of products: home drug-testing kits for marijuana, cocaine, or a seven-drug combination; beside those are home DNA testing kits, one for ancestry and one for paternity. These used to be unknowable and private facts: what substances are passing through one's body, or what one's own molecular identity might be—which is to say, the sex lives of one's parents and grandparents. The kits are stacked in sloppy rows, right by the generic adhesive bandages and the pill organizers. I take photos of those shelves on my computer-phone to remind myself that I really do live in the future, and this is how the future came out. When I type "drug" into the computer-phone’s search bar, it finds the photos for me.

The house-brand artificial tears were on sale, if I bought two boxes and logged my phone number into the marketing-surveillance system that tracks every over-the-counter medication or grooming product or piece of general merchandise I've ever bought at that drugstore chain. I used to refuse to make that tradeoff on principle, but now I just guess which phone number is in the system and type it in. Nothing about the underlying tradeoff changed; having to pay extra for privacy eventually wore me down.

The next day I checked which kind of Rite Aid drops the new artificial tears were, to see if they were one of the ones that had formerly been tainted. The box said they were Walgreens drops, because I still can't remember which drugstore is which. I'm sure the artificial tears are fine.


New York City, February 20, 2024

★★★ The branches in the courtyard were a silver mesh where the sun found them among the shadows. The cold cut through the seat and thighs of the jeans. Dregs of blue slush lay still frozen in a clear McDonald's cup left on top of a pile of trash bags. Pigeons' wings caught the light above Amsterdam Avenue. Red-painted brick was fading to beige. The hat was necessary and it helped, but the gloves just seemed to isolate each fingertip for the stinging cold to attack.


Indignity Morning Podcast No. 222: Unfairly labeled as bigots.

Tom Scocca • Feb 21, 2024


WE PRESENT INSTRUCTIONS for the assembly of sandwiches from Modern Priscilla Cook Book; One Thousand Recipes Tested And Proved At The Priscilla Proving Plant, published in 1924, by The Priscilla Publishing Company, now in the Public Domain and available at for the delectation of all.

6 slices toast
3 tablespoons anchovy paste
6 eggs
2 cups tomato sauce or white sauce

Cut toast in rounds and spread with anchovy paste. Poach eggs and place one on each slice of toast. Serve with Tomato Sauce or White Sauce. Servings, 6.

2 cups strained tomatoes
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon sugar
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon flour
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients, cook five minutes and strain.

2 cups milk
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Scald the milk. Melt butter, add flour and blend thoroughly. Add milk gradually and bring to boiling point, stirring constantly. Add salt.

1 cup crushed pineapple
1/2 cup peanut butter

Mix pineapple with peanut butter. Spread on slices of bread. 8 sandwiches.

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 cup crystallized orange peel

Moisten sugar with orange juice, add finely cut crystallized orange peel. Spread thinly cut slices of bread with creamed butter, and then with the mixture. Combine slices to make sandwiches. 6 sandwiches.

If you decide to prepare and attempt to enjoy a sandwich inspired by this offering, be sure to send a picture to


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HMM WEEKLY MINI-ZINE, Subject: GAME SHOW, Joe MacLeod’s account of his Total Experience of a Journey Into Television, expanded from the original published account found here at Hmm Daily. The special MINI ZINE features other viewpoints related to an appearance on, at, and inside the teevee game show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, available for purchase at SHOPULA.

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