Glass Eyes... Who's Got One?
I poked my little brother’s eyeball out when I was about four years old. I don’t remember actually taking his eye out with a rusty garden tool, but I do recall playing war and swinging the long pseudo-sword back and forth across the yard. I was happily decapitating dandelion after dandelion, and then all I could see was blood. So much blood. It was a freak accident, but I own it and always have. In fact, it’s entirely my fault. I would do anything to give him his eye back, but I can’t, so instead I’ve decided to finally sit down and chat with him about it. I want to know if I’m off the hook for what happened, or if he’s just biding his time before he takes his ultimate revenge. Maybe he’ll castrate me one night when I’m sleeping. I mean, that would really suck, but it would make us even. An eye for a dick?
My little brother Jeff, (aka Biff, Biffy, The Biffer, La Boeuf), is now 22 years old. He stands six feet, five inches tall, and weighs in at around 17 st 5 lbs of pure gym-rat muscle. Prior to becoming the General Manager of a fitness center, Jeff played competitive hockey until Jr. B, and still plays for fun whenever he can find a game. He drives a car, shoots a puck, and has never had any problem with the ladies. Having one eye has never seemed to slow him down and, unless he pops it out of the socket, you'd never know it was a fake.
I’m about half Jeff’s size. I have a reoccurring nightmare where he pins me to the ground and beats the shit out of me until I cry like a little girl. This could easily become a reality should he feel so inclined. This event was tragic but, despite the horror, Jeff and I are still tight. We party together now and again, and I usually get way too drunk and start sobbing pathetically as I beg him for forgiveness. He doesn't tolerate it for long and usually threatens to kick my ass if I don’t cut the shit and get over it. I always keep crying in the hope that an ass kicking may one day ensue.
VICE: Hey Biff, do you remember the day I poked your eyeball out?
My brother Jeff: I definitely don't remember that day. It’s funny how your memory works, or sometimes doesn't, but I truly have no recollection of the gory details. All I really remember is staying in the hospital with Mom and having a great time. We watched a bunch of movies, ate junk food, and she bought me a bunch of toys.
Can you pretend to remember the blood and the guts and the gore for the sake of our readers?
No, I'm talking to you about this for you, not for them. Besides, you could probably describe that shit better than me seeing as you're the older one.
You're definitely right about that. I remember seeing a shit load of blood and then standing in the living room waiting for the ambulance to arrive, while you were lying on the couch in shock. I don't remember Mom on that day, but I sure as shit remember Dad. I thought he was going to kill me. I'm pretty sure he thought about it. What's it like only having one eyeball?
The best thing about my situation is that I don’t know the difference. People sometimes ask me: “What’s it like to have one eye?” or, “What do you see out of your fake eye?” Both hilarious questions. But in all honesty I usually compare it to having eyes in the back of your head. There is no seeing black or gray—there is literally nothing there. Total nothingness. That's all I know and I think it’s better this way. Actually, there is one thing… pink eye! It would have been nice to have a backup eye for all those times I got fucking pink eye.
Yeah sorry, the pink eye may have been my fault too. I used to fart on your pillow.
I know that you sometimes use your poked-out eye to your advantage. Can you give me a couple instances in which you used that hole in your head as a gag?
I have used it to my advantage a couple of different ways. The first time was in Grade One. I was at school and wasn't in the mood to colour or nap – I just really wanted to go home. Long story short, I popped my eye out and let it roll underneath the table where all of us were colouring.
You just popped it out? How do you mean?
I dunno, I just jammed my finger under my eyelid and popped it out, like a cork from a champagne bottle.
I know. I searched for my eye on the floor until my classmates finally asked me what I was looking for. At that point I got out from under the table and said: "Help! I can’t find my eyeball!" All I remember after that was a lot of screaming and terror. Next thing I knew I was in the principal’s office waiting for Mom to pick me up and take me home. I was pumped.
That's a good one. Any good stories as of late?
Sure. I was standing in a really overcrowded bar in downtown Ottawa not too long ago when I turned and bumped into the guy beside me. When we collided, his beer spilled all over him. I had no idea he was there. He was on my blind side. He turned around and said: “Hey! What the fuck dude?” He was super pissed and ready to fight. I just smiled and said, “Sorry brother! Caught me on my blind side! This one doesn't work,” as I banged my pint glass against my eye a few times. There's nothing like the effect of glass on glass. Clink! clink! clink! He got freaked out and gave no response. The night rolled on.
You went through a phase where you liked to end the night with a good old-fashioned fist fight. In those situations or any similar instances, did you ever hurt your good eye?
When going through the fighting phase I never hurt my good eye. I was never scared of that because I was so dense back in those days – but you eventually grow up and start to think. At that time I never took my unique circumstances into account because fights happen so fast. You either react or you don’t. Again, I don't know any different. A fight's a fight for me, the same as it is for you. If you don’t react that’s when you usually end up getting hurt.
True enough. I usually react by screaming, biting, and pulling hair.
I know, I've seen it. You're terrifying, ha ha.
Do you think if you had two eyes you would have made it to the NHL?
If I had two eyes I would have definitely played a higher level of hockey. The NHL would have been a long shot though, no doubt.
Yeah, I don't think you were good enough.
How many glass eyes do you have in your collection ?
I have three glass eyes and one cover lens. All three glass eyes are different sizes. Every few years my eye socket would obviously get bigger and thus, I would have to have a new eyeball made. The second eye they made me has a lightning bolt in the corner, and my current glass eye has a Canadian flag painted on the side of it. These little icons exist so that I place the eye into my socket right side up. I've placed it in there upside down and it looks ridiculous. That's another common gag or trick.
That's cool. What is a cover lens, exactly?
A cover lens is basically just a fancy way of saying eye patch. It was from when my actual eyeball was still in my head and they were trying to save it. It shrunk down to the size of a raisin and so they made this pirate like eye patch for me, while my eye continued to shrink and eventually die.
That's sad. Do you think I'm a weirdo for wanting to do this interview and do you forgive me for taking out your eye?
Yes I forgive you. And yes you're a weirdo, but not because of this interview. I understand this is a big deal for you and I know you've had some trouble getting past it. I guess it's ultimately up to you to forgive yourself. Shit happens bro and I forgave you the day of.
Thanks for that.
OK, last question. Do you take your eye out when you sleep or, more importantly, when you have sex?
NO! That is the biggest misconception about one-eyed freaks like me. It's actually a lot safer to bone with the eye in, and I always practice safe sex.
WORDS: TREVOR JAMES
PHOTOS: ALEX MCGILL