I should have been wearing reading glasses all along, but my vanity bone is not exactly connected to my common sense bone. Even in the darkness of my lonely home, sitting in front of the computer screen, with no onlookers to make fun of me, I shun the spectacles.
I can hear my mother's voice in the back of my head. "Don't do anything you wouldn't want to be caught on camera doing." Well, I certainly wouldn't want to be caught on camera wearing those pink-rimmed rectangular pieces of glass across the bridge of my nose, looking like somebody's child playing dress-up with Granny's glasses. I'd hate to be forever immortalized with my chubby cheeks playing pedestal to twin reflections blinking back at the photo snapper.
When I was a child, back in...uh...nineteen-seve...uh...eigh...uh...well... years ago....I was hauled to the eye doctor by my mother when she thought I couldn't see the chalkboard in the classroom. I had brought home an A- on my report card, and I never never made anything less than an A+ in grade school. She knew something was up, and the optometrist comfirmed her suspicions and sent me home with a pair of glasses to rival Sally Jesse Rafael.
I was horrified, traumatized, mortified! I sat in front of my mirror with the offensive things wrapped around my face and glared into my own reflection, willing the damned things to disintegrate upon contact with my skin.
They remained...(sigh)...they remained.
I'll never forget the look on my classmates faces the first time I slipped them on in Mrs. Weem's Language Arts Class. Merideth D rolled her eyes as if I were trying too hard to get attention. Josh W erupted in hysterical laughter after one look at me, and Chet Z...well...Chet Z was the boy I had a terrible crush on for two years of my life. Never had there been a cuter boy than he, and never had there been a more pathetic girl than I, scribbling his name in hearts on my notebooks, writing poems about his perfect smile, day-dreaming that he and I would...er, nevermind. I just now decided the details of the daydreams aren't that important-just the fact that I did daydream. Anyhoo, Chet Z had the least reaction of anyone to my new reading glasses. He just sat across the aisle and stared at me for a very long time, eyes wide, mouth shut tight. I wasn't sure if this meant he thought I looked ridiculous and he couldn't tear his eyes away from the trainwreck that was my face, or if he thought I was absolutely beautiful, and he couldn't tear his eyes away from the heavenly sight that was my face.
Having been forever the realist, I decided on trainwreck. I shrugged down in my desk and hid my face as much as possible with my textbook. For the first time ever, I did not want him to notice me. I wished I could melt into my chair, but I remained quite solid.
I wasn't brave enough to "accidentally" lose the glasses, but I did think about it quite a bit. My father (an old fashioned military man who believed in corporal punishment) promised me that if I lost them, he would take payment out of my hide. I thoroughly believed him. My mother, who also believed him, bought me a long string with elastic loops on the ends. I wore it around my neck and ran the earpieces through the loops so my glasses would always be handy, laying across my chest.
My grandma had the same kind of string to keep track of her glasses. She mused that we must be twins. I did not muse that at all.
"You know what you look like?" Merideth D asked me during class one day, after I'd slipped the glasses on to read. I didn't bother to look her direction or speak to her. I just kept staring at my book. She was going to tell me whether I acknowledged her or not. "You look like an old librarian." She nodded her head quickly, satisfied that she had perfectly insulted me.
I felt the prick of tears come to my eyes, and for once I was glad to have a shield across my face to keep Merideth from knowing she had caused a reaction in me. I calmly turned the page in my book and did not give in to her meanness.
A few seconds later, Chet Z leaned over and whispered, "Yeah. A sexy librarian."
I don't know if it made me happier that it had been Chet to say it, or that Merideth D had overheard it, but I was all smiles for the rest of the week.
Still, once we moved again to another town, I deliberately avoided putting the glasses on during class, and after a certain amount of time, my parents became too busy with three new "adopted" boys to pay much attention to me. I suppose they figured I was old enough that I didn't need to be reminded to do what should have been second-nature to me by that point.
I've never disciplined myself to wear the ugly things. I've tried plenty different styles, but I've never found anything that compliments my face. I just look absolutely horrific in glasses! I suffer through the eye strain and the headaches and I never think of it as a sacrifice. It's just the way of things.
I have an eye appointment on Friday, and I'm pretty sure the doctor is going to send me home with a new pair of lenses and a strong suggestion to actually wear them. This time around, I think I'll splurge for the frameless version. And that Grandma String? Definitely a thing of the past.