My lifelong companion: glasses

Do you ever think about the fact that some people don’t have to wear glasses?

I don’t think it’s fair. Like, I wake up in the morning and if I really want to see the small print on pictures on the internet on my phone, I have to find my glasses. And if I want to lie sideways in bed and watch videos on my laptop, I can only stay in the same position for about 5 minutes because my arm starts to ache because I have to use it to prop my face up above the pillow so my glasses don’t get crooked and/or press painfully into my face.

And they’re so expensive. Like, I need to have glasses so I don’t kill other people when I drive, but I have to either 1. pay for insurance, or 2. pay for glasses; both options are quite the expense.

Also, after all this money that I’ve put into them – and basically putting my life and the lives of everyone around me into the hands of a doctor who judges what I need to see by giving me a very high intensity test where I’m forced to choose which of the 8 blurry images is the LEAST blurry and eventually I just cave and pick one because I get nervous – like, I still can’t see perfectly. Probably because I get so embarrassed when I can’t read the eye chart that I just settle for whatever only slightly helpful prescription is offered to me. Or possibly because, no matter how careful I am, no matter how many times I clean my glasses, I am ALWAYS looking through a fine film of dust, dirt, hairspray and eyelashes that have jumped ship.

This is a mystery that I just can’t wrap my head around. Every second of every day, my glasses are dirty. I’ve tried cleaning them with special cleaner and a microfiber cloth, I’ve rinsed them in the sink, I’ve wiped them with the bottom of stranger’s shirts – nothing helps. Even if they’re clean in my hands after wiping them, by the time they get to my face they’re filthy again. I guess the one and only positive thing about wearing glasses is that all that gunk is landing on them and not on my face. Sorry 20/20ers: your face is probably dirty and you should consider wearing goggles or something.

And in addition to all these MAJOR inconveniences, there are so many social repercussions for admitting that I can’t see without glasses. That was my first major mistake in life, I think: admitting that I need glasses. I had actually been struggling to see the board in all my classes for about two years by the time I was 14, but I didn’t think anything about it. I had – and still have – this delusion that no one can see perfectly and there was nothing strange about what I was experiencing. That was all until driver’s ed, when we individually had to take and pass a vision test in order to “pass” the class and move on to take the permit test come our 15th birthdays. One by one, the people who were sitting at my table in what was probably the ugliest library in the world disappeared to take the vision test; they weren’t nervous that they were going to fail the vision test and ultimately the entire class even though they were paying attention 80% of the time and all the material was basically common sense. They all returned calmly, without even the slightest bit of joy that they had passed this “important” test.

Then it was my turn. I was nervous. There was a chance that giving 70% of my attention to the mustached instructor – who dedicated himself to teaching youths how to drive as a personal vendetta to the truck driver that cut off his teenage daughter in traffic in the 80s, the state of North Carolina for having a cable barricade in the center of the interstate too high so that his daughter’s car passed right under it when she jerked the wheel after being cut off and went directly into oncoming traffic, and the highway patrolman who showed up at his door and delivered the news to Mustache and Mrs Mustache that their daughter “is dead” (which is the way police officers are instructed to inform families of a death, but Mustache did NOT think was appropriate or sensitive) – was all for nothing. I wasted two weeks of my summer in that library listening to Mustache cry and putting up with him yelling at me when I was laughing at my friend Callie making fun of a girl with a unibrow that was sitting at a different table because he thought I was laughing at him telling his traumatic story for the 13th time. All that time, all those bullshit lessons on what to do when four cars come to a 4-way stop at the same time, even though I was SURE that was never actually going to happen in real life (I’m pretty sure it only happens in LA and, even here, no one pays attention to those “rules,” you just do whatever you want and plan to blame the other person if you actually end up in a wreck): wasted. Because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to tell the difference between a blurry picture of a flower and a blurrier picture of a stop sign.

I was doing my best to mask any sign of fear while the guest speaker lectured about trains and had an emotional breakdown over how many cars he’d hit on the tracks when he was a conductor – “that’s not a car, that’s a COFFIN!” – but I couldn’t put off the test. I had to get up and go put my face in a small machine full of pictures that were probably not supposed to be blurry.

After the test, I walked back to my table and whispered the news to Callie: “I missed every single one.” This was it. I was never going to drive.

The next week, I went to the eye doctor and the week after that, I picked up my glasses: rectangular rimless. They were very chic and went oh so well with my shoulder-length hair, braces and black track jacket and baggy jeans that I wore every day.

Anyway, back to the social repercussions I mentioned a while ago: by admitting you need glasses and ultimately succumbing to the need, you’re agreeing to a life full of “can I try on your glasses?”, “Your vision isn’t even that bad. Or maybe I need glasses.”, and “Do these look good on me?”

I constantly look like the stereotypical nerd in an 80’s sitcom, pushing up my glasses by the middle bridge after they inevitably slide down my face.

Every decision I’ve made in the past ten years regarding glasses has been met with discussion from my peers. First it was getting glasses, then I got new frames senior year with thick plastic rims that brought a lot of comments, all positive. Then in college I got glasses that earned the label “something that a serial killer or pedophile from the 1970s would wear.” Now barely a week goes by that no one calls me Harry Potter.

These wear my second pair of glasses. First pair not featured because I destroyed all pictures of myself from that time period.
A customer once asked me why I went with the “really nerdy” look by choosing these glasses.
They’re not perfectly round, OK?! Stop calling me Harry Potter. 

I don’t know what kind of frames I’ll get next, but no doubt they will come with comments from friends and strangers alike. Also without a doubt, when I finally make the decision in whatever hip, overpriced LA eyewear boutique I end up in in a few years, I will be making the decision from a very resentful place in my heart. I hate wearing glasses.

And don’t even get me started on contacts.



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