Why I Hate Kentucky

There’s only thing that makes my heart gladder than a Duke win, and that would be a Kentucky loss. In this case, the major whuppin’ at the hands of the Vanderbilt Commodores last night.

Whence comes my ire? Oh, the general cockiness–and the 1978 NCAA final didn’t help. But the biggest reason is related to eyes.

In the summer of 1990, I was a resident in ocular disease at a large clinic in Nashville. I wasn’t sure where I would go after that, so I was in the process of obtaining several state licenses to broaden my options. I thought at the time that Kentucky sounded kinda nice and wasn’t far and that I might be able to find a post-residency position somewhere in The Bluegrass State. So off I went to Lexington to take the test.

For those of you (that would be most) unfamiliar with optometry licensing laws, at that time the large majority of states still required candidates to take their own “special” board exam rather than recognizing the National Board. This allowed the state boards, which are typically dominated by “good ol’ boys” with large, successful private practices, to “screen” prospective doctors for those who might be deemed a threat to their special interests. In other words, no use allowing some young turk in who might set up shop nearby and start siphoning off your patients.

In the case of Kentucky, this consisted of a pretest “interview” with me in a very small chair, looking and feeling very young, puny and powerless. Towering above me on an elevated platform sat 8 “good ol’ boys” with frosty hair sprouting from numerous orifices who interrogated me as to my origins, current whereabouts and future plans. I got the distinct impression that my answers weren’t satisfactory to them, and I recall telling Eyegal that night that I was afraid “the fix was on.”

The following day, I made my way through the written portion of the exam (no problems) and most of the patient care section (again, no problems) and finally came to the last station of the exam–refraction. I walked into the room, and in my chair sat an 80-year-old grandmother with itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny pupils and dense cataracts.

For those of you (that would be most) who have never done a refraction before, let me just tell you–that spells major bad news. To make matters worse, she barely talked (she had either been coached to be non-responsive or else had Alzheimers). I fumbled around and did my best, but as time expired, she was still only seeing 20/200. I found out later from questioning the other candidates that no one else had been required to refract Granny and that she had apparently been aimed just at me.

Welcome to Kentucky–boy.

I failed the refraction section, lowering my overall grade exactly one point below the passing mark. I thought about fighting it, but what could I do? I was young, poor and powerless. I swore that I would never have anything to do with that state again.

A year later, I traveled to Raleigh, NC and took what was arguably the toughest optometry state board exam in the country (6 hours of patient care and oral exams). I dazzled my interlocutors–it was a Jesus-in-the-temple moment. I received an overall mark of 99.

Almost 2 years later, Duke stunned Kentucky on Christian Laettner’s buzzer beater en route to their second National Championship in a row. To this day, I feel that they won that for me.

And that, dear readers, is why I hate Kentucky. Caveat: If you’re from there, it’s nothing personal.

  1. Hal

    Well, I’ll say one thing for those good ole boys. They were smart enough to realize that Mike the EyeGuy sharp enough to be a serious threat to their businesses. They, of course, had no idea that MTEG would be an indentured servant for the Gov’t in his heyday.

  2. greg

    I watched part of an Ashley Judd movie last night, but they kept interrupting it with highlights (or lowlights) from a basketball game.

    GTHK, too.

    Good article on DBR this morning about the Maryland game tonight. I hope they play better than they did for the first 30 minutes against BC. I’d like to see Zoubek get enough minutes to clog up the middle here and there on defense. Maybe he can slow down their big guys at least a little. But, as they showed Saturday, they really have to hit those three’s.

  3. Jeff Slater

    Ha! As someone who is no fan of Kentucky, I really appreciate your story. I never get tired of seeing replays of Duke’s win over Kentucky.

    Have optometry licensing laws changed since then? Are there still some states that operate that way?

  4. Mike the Eyeguy

    Hal–and little did they know that I would become a writer with a “worldwide” audience. Take that you Kentucky good ol’ boys!

    Greg–The Terps always worry me, whether home or away. We will need to play better than we did against BC. But with so many cylinders in the engine, one is bound to be firing. I agree with the Zoubek strategy–just hold out your arms and shuffle your feet, Brian!

    Jeff–Is it possible for Democrat, Republican, Independent, Conservative, Liberal, North and South to unite in hatred of Kentucky basketball?

    Yes we can!

    Fortunately, most state boards–even Kentucky–now accept the National Board, usually with only an additional state law test. However, most have a statue of limitations on the National Board, which very effectively hinders reciprocity for an older OD who might want to move to another state.

    Alabama still has its own test, but I took it a few years back and it was very fair and reasonable.

  5. Mike the Eyeguy

    Somewhere in Minnesota, Tubby Smith is smiling…

  6. Donna

    Sounds like a perfectly good reason to me…

  7. greg

    Singler is officially ‘the man’

  8. Mike the Eyeguy

    Ain’t he though? I told Number Three last night that at this rate he’s going to have several Player of the Year awards before he’s done (if he hangs around). He seems to me to be Duke’s MVP so far on a team where several players could seriously contend for that honor.

    My favorite play last night came midway through the second half. He received the ball in the corner and everybody in the place thought he would square up and rain another trey. Instead, he drove baseline by at least two stunned Terps for a layup. Such versatility = a deep run in The Dance.

  9. Stoogelover

    I’ve never needed a reason to hate Kentucky, but if one needs a reason, your’s is as good as any!

  10. Dr. J

    This is very cold and petty on your part! 😎
    Kentucky has been through these desert periods before only to return in force. Will it happen again? Probably not.
    And you are right, being from the great commonwealth, I know it is a good ole’ boy state, but hey, nobody’s perfect.

  11. Mike the Eyeguy

    Well, I’m glad to see I finally drew some Kentucky Blue blood with that post!

    Oh, I’m sure your Cats will play very well in this year’s N.I.T. I hear that Madison Square Garden is very nice in March. 🙂

    BTW, there’s a great Converse commercial playing right now that features one of your better tomahawk jams. Number One, who had never heard of you before, was very impressed.

  12. Dr. J

    That is an awesome commercial…
    Tell Number One I will be happy to help with his education.

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