By Lisa René LeClair on March 03, 2014
A few weeks before the third grade, my parents took us shopping. It must have been one of those rare occasions where mom needed his approval before flexing her plastic card, because dad would have never gone otherwise. As my father stood dreaming about the chocolate malted lure she had dangled in front of his face to get him in the car, she forged ahead in search of bright red clearance tags and mis-marked items.
The last thing I remember was her pinched up face looking at me while pointing to a small clock above Orange Julius, "What time does that say?" I could feel my eyes squinting and the walls beginning to close in. "Why is everybody staring at me?" I cried, in a feeble attempt to divert attention. My mother remained unphased and annoyed, "Just tell me what time it is!" I stood for a moment, mentally de-fuzzing the unidentifiable scribbles on the wall, then quickly blurted out the first thing that popped in my head, "Two forty six?" For a split second, I thought she had stopped breathing. But my theory was quickly shot down when she turned her head around to face my father, "For Christ's sake, Kenny... She needs GLASSES!"
If you've ever had to try on glasses, you know how easy it is to get sucked into the vortex of display cases and cheap plastic frames; so much so, that you often forget that you can't even see. My first pair was the most hideous attempt at eyewear fashion that you could ever imagine. They looked like stale chocolate donuts with 2" glass cylinders for lenses. But mom didn't care, it was buy one, get one free that day and she was due for an upgrade. I still remember my brother, flipping his hands upside down, touching his thumbs to his index fingers and outlining his eyes with a pair of simulated glasses, "Four eyes, four eyes, Lisa has four eyes!"
When I got older, I switched to contact lenses and I couldn't have been happier. I could finally wear sunglasses like everyone else and come in from the cold without steam blocking my view. It was nice to be able to see without a visual crutch and I rode those lenses like a camel in the desert. I only took them out to sleep, and put them on the second I opened my eyes. "I'll never wear glasses again," I thought. But I thought wrong.
Turns out, sometimes your eyes are just dry. And for me, lubricating drops and artificial tears only seemed to make matters worse. But instead of throwing on a pair of glasses, I would blindly pirouette through the streets of Atlanta in hopes that no one would notice my incessant need to squint whenever a hot guy stumbled past me to get to the bar. And it was always a disappointment when she finally acknowledged my flirtatious glances and asked to borrow my lipstick.
Then one night, over a late night snack at the bar, my friend Peter called me out for attempting to read a menu that wasn't in Braille. "Why don't you just wear your glasses?" he laughed, while mimicking my scrunched up pathetic face. "You look much prettier when you're not doing THIS!
And he was right.
I don't wear contacts anymore, my eyes are too dry and no one knows for sure why that is... Some say it could be a structural problem, while others believe it's related to the environment; but my favorite, by far, came from a doctor who advised me that "It's just a part of the natural aging process, especially menopause."
It's nice to see that eyeglasses are making a comeback, especially for all of those young girls on the prowl in the wee morning hours. I just hope they realize that squinting causes wrinkles that they won't see until they're my age... And that, boys DO make passes at girls who wear glasses–even if they don't see it coming!
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