It’s a beautiful place. A location steeped in history. A calming, complete destination that, somehow, reveals its vibrancy around every corner. Lahaina? Maui? Nassau? No, I’m talking about Cleveland. Yes, THAT Cleveland. The one in Ohio.

I was asked to deliver the Keynote Address at the EastWest Eye Conference there. Since I hadn’t heard back from The Hawaii Optometric Association—in fact, I actually have never heard from them, at all—I accepted the opportunity in Cleveland. (Hawaii, if you’re listening, I am a very busy man so, if you want me there, I cannot possibly make it until later today.)

Now, this was the first time I had taken my show on the road in maybe 10 years. I had my reasons for the speaking sabbatical. I sold my practice, moved to Texas, spent time taking care of family, especially, as many of you know, my granddaughter, Grace, who has had three major heart surgeries. Thank you, my fellow doctors for your prayers and your financial gifts for Grace.  She is five years old now; nobody expected her to survive, even a day. Grace’s challenges will never go away but, man, is she the most wonderful person I have ever known!

Back to Ohio

Folks, I have had a longtime love for Ohio. I had the opportunity to lecture a few times at Ohio State University School of Optometry when I lived in West Virginia and I constantly say I have never met a stupid optometrist from Ohio State. Don’t let me down, Buckeyes!  Also, Grace has had all of her surgeries at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. It’s an amazing place full of amazing healers. So, when the Ohio Optometric Association called, I was immediately in!

I used to think Cleveland was cold, dreary, dirty, maybe even dying due to loss of industry and the city’s unfortunate northern, blustery location.  Any place can be dreary and cold I have since learned, as typically sunny Dallas has had a record cold rain that has lasted more than a month. Maybe I shouldn’t have bought that giant SUV—my car apparently caused global warming, which has made it cold. OK, I haven’t quite figured that part out yet, or how to get six grandkids into a smart car. 

But Cleveland reminded me that I truly am, as many people remind me daily, an idiot. Cleveland is AWESOME! It’s clean, gorgeous and growing. And the food scene? Crazy good, from Michael Symon’s to Slyman’s Deli, I dare you to beat Cleveland’s choices and quality. Yes, Cleveland is a great weekend escape. Just not in January.  

A better time to go is during the EastWest Eye Conference. Jordan Quickel and the Ohio Optometric Association folks know how to do it. The education is great, the venue is easily accessible and huge, and the extracurricular events are well done. 

I even got to high five my old music buddies, Bad Habits: The Eye Docs of Rock. They always put on a great show and I still cannot figure out how that many rocking optometrists ended up in one place. They should have been something way cooler, like morticians. Maybe they made a wrong turn. 

Anyway, I entertained the doctors and left them with smiles and hope and plenty of quizzical looks. At least they got an hour of CE. Now, they can go back to their staff members and patients and tell them even more dumb optometry jokes.