I can’t help but laugh every time I hear someone explain a break-up, divorce or triple-homicide by saying, “Well, apparently Mr. So-And-So had a wandering eye.”
It’s usually older people who were brought up with a heightened sense of propriety, but I’ve heard my younger friends say it, too. “Did you hear they’re splitting up? Yeah, apparently he had a wandering eye.” And then, inevitably, the person they’re talking to cringes a little, because … well, because “wandering eye” implies so much while actually saying so little. Supplied with almost no real information, you’re left with only your imagination to fill in the blanks.
Who did he bang? I’ll bet it was his secretary, the brunette with the pale skin and the legs up to here. I’ll bet they did it on his desk. No, on her desk. Right out there in the lobby between the water cooler and the copy machine. At night, probably, after closing. They probably left the door unlocked just to make it more exciting. Yep, I’ll bet the janitor caught them. Or the security cameras! I’ll bet there’s video of it. It’s probably on the Internet. That’s how she found out. No doubt about it. Hell, I never trusted that guy.
That’s what I imagine other people think about, anyway.
Me? When I hear “wandering eye,” the first thing that invariably pops into my head is an Onion headline from two years ago, which read, “Stuart Scott’s left eye moves to Fox.”
With an amblyopia joke as my launching pad, I’m just a hop, skip and a jump from a fantastic Nikolai Gogol-esque tale about a sentient eyeball who tires of being merely one constituent of a dull, monogamous face, so he dons a dashing overcoat or perhaps a distinguished monocle and embarks on a series of romantic misadventures, gallivanting from club to club with his harlot du jour and cultivating a notorious reputation as a rakish eyeball-about-town.
So when someone says, “Did you hear? They’re splitting up,” I reflexively think, “He just couldn’t keep his eyeball in its socket, could he?” And I snort.
Which, as it turns out, isn’t generally well received as an appropriate response to heartbreak.