Wednesday, February 20, 2013

let's talk about glasses.

I’ve had glasses for as long as I can remember. Specifically? Since I was five years old. I think I got my glasses within the first few weeks of kindergarten (a note from the teacher about me pitifully squinting at the blackboard comes to mind), and I certainly had them in time for school pictures. 
My cute phase lasted just long enough
for Lifetouch to take this photo.
Red has always been my favorite color, likely because my dad drilled the superiority of red tractors to green ones into his children from the day we were born. I picked out my first pair of glasses based solely on the flecks of red in their frames. No matter that they took up half my face: they were kind of sort of RED!

With this new pair of glasses, I discovered my one and only allergy: squishy nose pads. Glasses only come with the hard plastic nose pads now, but once upon a time, you could get these weird squishy ones that were supposed to be more comfortable. Within hours of getting my new glasses, the sides of my nose (right where the nose pads landed) became red and swollen. Back to the eye doctor we went. We traded the squishy nose pads for the hard plastic ones, and that was that. What a lame allergy.

I was the first kid in my class to get glasses, and it seemed like it took FOREVER for anyone else to join me in the nerd camp. My friends Sarah and Allison eventually were saddled with glasses, too, and I was so glad that I was no longer the only myopic dork in my circle of elementary school friends.

I think my early acquisition of glasses played a major part in me being really good at not losing stuff. Money meant almost nothing to me when I first got my glasses, but I understood that my responsibility for these wire frames was not to be taken lightly. In the very early days, I could wear my glasses to school and immediately remove them upon arriving home. When that was the case, I made sure I placed them somewhere I’d remember, but out of harm’s way. Sadly, it wasn’t long before my vision deteriorated enough for me to have to wear my glasses full-time. Poor vision and all, I still had swimming lessons and summers on Lake Poinsett and sleepovers and all sorts of potentially dangerous situations for my glasses, so I stored them carefully at all times, figuring that the loss of my glasses would result in the loss of the life and limb as well.

So I have yet to lose a pair of glasses (cheapy gas station sunglasses included). I have also yet to inflict real damage on a pair of glasses: if you remember from A Christmas Story, Ralphie sums it up perfectly when he says that “nothing brings such swift and terrible retribution on a kid as a pair of busted glasses.” I never experienced said retribution, but I was not about to find out. The only time my glasses sustained any harm was the time in PE when I got hit the face during dodgeball (reason number 252 why I hated PE, but that’s a story for another time).

Over the approximate two decades (holy shit, two decades?!) I have had corrective vision, I have had six pairs of glasses… many of them horribly dorky. I began, of course, with those kindergarten glasses that made me look like some sort of an insect. When I was eight or nine, I decided it was time for an upgrade and thusly switched to my round John Lennon glasses.
Seventh grade. On the bright side,
NO ONE looks cool in seventh
grade, so it's not just me.
I was totally jealous of my classmates and all their super-cool clip-on sunglasses, so I made sure my John Lennon glasses came equipped with clip-ons. They had the big bar across the top to hold them in place, and I thought I was really cool… until everyone else started getting contacts. I wasn’t ready to touch my own eyeballs on a daily basis, so when I was thirteen, I picked out a pair of blue frames with MAGNETIC clip-ons! YES, MAGNETIC! It didn’t take long for the novelty to wear off, and I was kicking myself for not taking my parents up on their offer of contacts sooner.
Ninth grade, and PS: WTF is going
on with my hair?!
Three years later, I was the proud owner of super-strength contact lenses. Life was SO GOOD! I could go swimming and still see what was going on, and I could wear real sunglasses for the first time in more than a decade. Plus, it was a whole lot easier to put on mascara… not that I wore mascara until well after I got contacts, but let’s just say that I never wore it with glasses because it was too hard to see what I was doing. Certainly not because I was just lazy and fairly apathetic about looking decent. Nope, I’m sure that wasn’t it.

 As you know, even if you have contacts, you need a pair of glasses around so you can see well enough not to crash into walls after you’ve taken your contacts out for the night. I kept my metallic blue frames until I was a freshman in college, at which point I upgraded to my first-ever pair of plastic frames. 
Circa 2006. Don't ask why I'm in James's coat.
How trendy was I? My old blue glasses were more like dark secret glasses that I hoped no one saw when I snuck to the shared dorm bathroom every morning, but with these new glasses, I could actually wear them in PUBLIC! That, of course, meant less wear-and-tear on my contacts. More importantly, it meant that I could get up just a tiny bit later and still make it to my 9.15 class. Go me.

I met my now-fiancée James on the very first day of college. He was one of those lucky souls blessed with decent vision, and he didn’t get glasses until the summer after our sophomore year. We weren’t dating at this point, but I’m pretty sure James’s glasses played a major role in us getting together. Turns out that a man in glasses is far preferable to a man without glasses in Calla World. I swooned. (A few years later, when James was toying with the idea of getting contacts, I practically begged him not to. Yes, it was pathetic, and no, he never got contacts.)

During my senior year of college, I asked for a new pair of glasses for Christmas – partly because I was ready for new frames, and partly because my time on my parents’ good insurance was running out. I selected a snappy pair of red frames (remember how I like red?). What I really wanted was a pair of glasses without frames at the bottom (picture), but my prescription is so strong that it just wasn’t possible. With such a strong prescription, the lenses have to be pretty thick (NERD ALERT), and my lenses are way too thick not to be held in at the bottoms. So I settled for a very thin wire holding my lenses in place, and I proceeded with looking like a librarian for four years.
We were walking home in a blizzard. Forgive my facial expression.
I got these new glasses over winter break, so they were pretty new when I returned to college for my final semester. I had been working at a little coffee shop since the beginning of the school year, and they were remarkably flexible with class schedules. That semester, my classes began at 1030 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and 8am on Tuesdays and Thursdays – the only 8am class in my entire college career. My days were pretty full, as I was taking 20 credits, playing in the jazz and concert bands, working on-campus, and working for the newspaper, aka trying to squeeze every last bit of college experience out of my remaining semester before being thrown into the real world. Anyway, there wasn’t a lot of spare time for my coffee house job. My bosses scheduled me on evenings and weekends when they could, and they managed to find three shifts a week that were all mine: the opening shift on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I was to be at the coffee house at 6am to have it open for business by 7am, and I would stay there until 10 o’clock when it was time for me to make my way to class.

I have never been an early riser, so this was pretty tough on me. I wasn’t about to get up any earlier than I absolutely had to, so that meant I would forgo my contacts and wear glasses. I did the same for my 8am class. I would wear my glasses for the first part of every day and switch into my contacts when I had time to go home in between classes. Since I was in college and couldn’t go to bed on time like a responsible person, I spent most of my final semester being tired. Therefore, in my primitive brain, red glasses = tired. After that grueling semester, every time I wore my red glasses, I Pavlovian-dogged myself into being tired.

So that’s why I almost never wore those glasses outside of the house after 2009. Unless I was sick, I wore my contacts every day, whether I was going anywhere or not. Wearing those glasses out and about sort of made me feel less than presentable, like I had just rolled out of bed (as I did for so many of my coffee house shifts). Silly, yes, but that’s just how it was.

2013 rolled around, and I was ready for some new frames. I still don’t like to get up any earlier than I have to, and how delightful would it be not to have to put my contacts in once in a while? WAY delightful, that’s what it would be. So James and I headed to the mall, picked through the sale frames (as I didn’t want to spend more than a month’s rent on glasses, thank you very much), and settled on a pair that is less librarian, more awesome (and hopefully doesn’t teeter over into hipster territory).
I’ve had these frames for about a month now, and James is completely smitten with them. They’ve grown on me, thanks in no small part to their ability to hide how thick (NERD) my lenses are. Plus, I think they make me look smarter, and there are certainly days when I need all the help I can get.

1 comment:

  1. It feels kinda nostalgic when you think about how your glasses had evolved throughout the years. For me, wearing eyeglasses is more awesome than putting contacts on. They bring out more of the wearers’ character and enhance their overall appearance. Not to mention that these spectacles can also make them look more confident and witty, if they choose the right design and style for them.

    Doris Gibbs @ Moody Eyes