I can’t tell you exactly when I started wearing glasses, but it was sometime during my Monte Vista Elementary school years, I’m sure. I remember always taking them off whenever it was time for the annual official school photo. Once, the photographer’s assistant sat me on the stool in front of the backdrop and before I had a chance to ditch my glasses – “flash!” – the photographer took my picture. I was mortified. I just knew everyone would see that picture and say “What a dork!” Of course, I wore the things almost all the time when I wasn’t having my picture taken but, for some reason, the thought of everyone having proof in a picture was devastating.
Be that as it may, I wore glasses (or contact lenses) most of my life to keep from walking into walls, closed doors, other people, off cliffs – that sort of thing. If you wear glasses, you know the frustration that comes with not being able to see much of anything when you wake up in the morning. And if, for whatever reason, your glasses aren’t where they should be, then you have to feel around in a blur until you find where you left them.
As a glasses wearer, even showering was a frustrating experience – not being able to read shampoo instructions, etc. Come to think of it, my poor eyesight could be why I learned to shave using an electric shaver instead of a razor. Who knows how dangerous I could have been to myself? Combine Mr. Magoo-vision with a foggy mirror, surgically sharp instrument and exposed carotid arteries and I shudder to think at the possibilities for self-inflicted mayhem.
Wearing glasses was also not conducive to either of my favorite sports growing up – snow skiing and racquetball. On the slopes, my glasses would trap a mogul’s worth of snow whenever I executed a masterly face plant on a run. Or they’d steam up and be 100% opaque for the first half-hour inside the warm lodge. On the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA racquetball courts, my glasses either flew off during a kill shot or became embedded in my face whenever I took a direct hit off an opponent’s racquet.
Flash forward to November of 2000 when, after much procrastination, I finally had laser eye surgery and put away my need to wear glasses for good. Or so I thought.
For several years, I lived like people who are blessed with “normal” vision. I could finally buy non-prescription sunglasses. I could dive into a pool and be able to see clearly when I came out of the water. I could drive a car or read a book or take a shower (and yes, I finally learned the joys of using a razor and shaving cream!) and see just fine. It was incredible. It was life changing. It was bound to change.
Gradually, I noticed I was squinting when reading the newspaper or restaurant menus. I started needing a brighter reading light. I realized that I was viewing documents on my computer at 125% or even 150%. It was official – regardless of how young and vital the rest of my body may still be (stop snickering, please), at some point while I wasn’t looking, my eyes became middle aged.
Which means, I’m back to wearing glasses – although now they’re reading glasses. It’s a good thing the “readers” I use are inexpensive because I now need to keep a pair in my office, my car, on my nightstand, in the bathroom, kitchen and a pair in our family room. I draw the line at hanging a pair around my neck on a chain, however.
I’ve even mastered that head down, eyebrows arched, over-the-top-of-the-lenses stare I used to think was so funny. Only it’s not quite so funny now. Who knows, I might even shoot it your way the next time I see you ‘round town.