I got my first pair of glasses in third grade. They were tiny with multicolored rims — delicate things my parents warned me to never lose track of and never set down where they could get broken.
To paraphrase Ralphie in “A Christmas Story,” nothing strikes fear in a child’s heart like a pair of shattered spectacles.
Well, I never broke my glasses, friends — but there have been plenty of times over the years that I’ve wanted to. From the ugly multicolored frames I graduated to an oversized pair of red glasses that would have made Sally Jessy Raphael weep with jealousy. In fifth grade, I wore them only under extreme duress — like, when we were taking a test and I had to see what my teacher, a kind woman who took a shine to my many “stories,” was writing on the board.
The rest of the time, I suffered.
The world was a hazy, blurry mess by the time I reached high school. I’d gotten it into my head that I hated my glasses — any glasses, all glasses — and would never wear them. My vision has deteriorated to “eh, sort of sucky” to flat-out incapable of seeing my hand in front of my face. Without corrective lenses, at 25, the world is nothing but a mass of shapes of varying sizes and levels of shadow. I can’t see a thing.
So walking around without glasses — even then? Ridiculous.
But tell that to 15-year-old me. By my sophomore year, I’d gotten used to muddling through my day and squinting at the board in school. If people thought I was a snob because I didn’t say “hi” to them in the hallways, so what? That said more about them than me, right? And not being able to see beyond the stage was a major boon when, acting in high school plays, I didn’t have to worry about making eye contact with the audience.
Things continued in this vein for a while. My little gold-framed spectacles stayed firmly in their protective pouch as I looked at the world through waxy glass. I made no bones about my stubborn refusal to wear my glasses. At one point, the eye doctor I saw yearly looked me square in the face and said, “I can’t believe you’re walking around like this.”
But I was.
Until my parents issued an ultimatum.