glasses   At the age of eleven the world suddenly took shape, colors became deep and brilliant, the chalky hieroglyphs on the blackboard became words that I could read. That was the year, 1948, that I was prescribed glasses. In my new world of color and clarity, it was all so amazing, and with eagerness, I wore my pink rimmed glasses with pride and dignity. If other children called me Four Eyes, at least, I could see who said it.

Glasses are not usually something people long for. Few people make a wish for them on the genie’s magic lamp, but for me, it was exciting to see. While other children purposely sat on their glasses, broke them at recess, or left them at home in some forgotten spot, I saw the seasons move from year to year in my glasses which, too, showed the changing times from one style to another.

When colored frames came into vogue, I was envious of a girl who had red plaid frames. It gave me an idea, and, so, I colored my glasses with fingernail polish, and, for a few weeks, I dazzled myself with my bright red glasses, until one day they snapped in half. Knowing nothing about chemistry, I had apparently created a new compound when combining the nail polish with the plastic rims. The reaction was that of a snap pea. Although mom and dad were not happy

about my new chemical discovery, I was. It meant I was able to get the new trendy black cat-eye frames. Entering high school, I proudly sported them. Years later, looking at old photographs of me and my cat-eye glasses, I now realize I looked remarkably like Groucho Marx without the mustache.

My younger sister was forced to wear glasses due to what was known as a lazy eye, and I could not understand why she cried and refused to leave the house with them. Like so many others who used one excuse after the other to avoid their glasses, I loved mine, until I realized that glasses and romance did not go hand-in-hand, so to speak.

In those days, we called them crushes, and, whenever I found myself around a boy whom I admired and wanted to impress, I discovered that glasses could be a problem. In my anxious exuberance and with nervous gestures, more than once, I knocked my glasses off on one side. There I was staring at the young man of my dreams with my glasses hanging off one ear. Usually, I would try to nonchalantly hook the earpiece back on to my ear; although, nonchalance was never my forte. Occasionally, I would knock my glasses off entirely; there they were sailing across the room. In my later teens, I found dating with glasses also had it’s setbacks. I nearly blinded unsuspecting suitors with the corner of my cat-eye glasses. These memories, now humorous, were earth-shaking events at the time.

I remember when I was a sophomore in high school, a pretty blond girl moved into the neighborhood and appeared in my English class one morning. Bumping into the door frame and saying, “Excuse me,”made me suspicious that she should be wearing glasses. Actually she owned them, but, like my sister and countless others who hated them, she took them off once she was at school.

Phyllis and I became fast friends. It was nice to have a friend who was as near-sighted as I was. Eventually, my good influence helped her to see the folly of her ways, and she began to wear her glasses in school. Her mother never did understand why her grades improved so quickly.

I recall another incident that occurred when I was a junior in high school. Once again, I had broken my glasses caused by “nail polish experiment.” Everyone I knew were getting new glasses with colors in the frames. One friend had plaid frames, and I hate my boring ones. I decided to color them with red nail polish. I learned that nail polish causes plastic to be brittle.

Without my glasses, walking to school became an adventure trying to judge distance and identify common landmarks which, that day, looked very uncommon. Turning a corner, I saw a blurred shape coming down the road. As the footsteps sounded closer behind me, I heard a scuffling noise. Turning around, I saw the “blurred walker” sitting on the ground. Remembering the Good Samaritan parable, I hurried toward the splotch of color and human form on the road.

“Hi.” The familiar voice cause me to look closer, and there was Phyllis, lying in a pool of a brightly printed flared skirt.

“What happened?” I asked as I squinted into her upturned face. Then I realized her glasses were missing also.

She laughed and said, “My Aunt Ruth said she thought I looked better without my glasses so I left them home. Where are yours?”

“I broke them again.”

Actually, if Phyllis had not tripped on the rut in the road, we may have walked all the way to school together, alone. Another Biblical reference crossed my mind, “Pride goes before the fall.” I do believe that particular reference meant something a bit different.

Today, in our middle age, Phyllis and I, who still see each other occasionally, wear contact lenses. Neither of us can see any better than before, but at least, now, if we lose one lens, there is still the hope that we can see with the other. Apparently, I, too, have joined the ranks of those who do not want to wear glasses. I must face the reality that, with or without the “fall”, pride goes — or is it vanity?

©1994 Gail Gaymer Martin

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  1. Debbie Medina June 6, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    Gail, I love this blog. I can relate to it. As I read about you putting nail polish on your glasses, I thought, wow, that’s a great idea. But then I read on, and, well I guess, it’s not a good idea, unless it works with wired frames. Lol. I wear lenses too. Wearing glasses was always a problem for me, becasue of how it sit on my nose and brought on sinus issues. I remember walking around blindly too. No fun. And now it’s a matter to adjusting to age and being able to read a book and being in denial of getting older.

    When people comment on age, I tell them, we’re only getting younger. Moses had great vision at 120 years old. So can we. Still waiting for that to happen. But meanwhile making the adjustments that come with life.

    Thanks for sharing.

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