All obstacles in my way

April 20, 2012 § 4 Comments

My best friend Elizabeth got glasses when we were twelve. I wanted some–anything to be just like her. She was getting braces too. I wanted those at first, but I wised up on that one by the time I was fifteen and heard the urban myths about braces getting locked together in a kiss. You couldn’t shame yourself with glasses. At least not that bad. You could just look smart, and you could get funky cat-eyed frames from a thrift store and have them converted to your prescription. This is a fantasy my friend Pam actually fulfilled, which is only one of the indicators of her perennial coolness.

I have been stopping at the rotating reader stand at the grocery check out for at least five years. You know the one—with the little mirror at the top, right next to the magazines? My ice cream and frozen vegetables would soften as I tried on different prescriptions, read the eight-point font, and chose another pair. They were all just a little too strong. I was only embarrassed once, when a hot young guy looked at me, like, get out of the aisle old lady! I put the readers back on the rack and slunk away.

“Be happy you don’t need glasses!” Jeff would tell me. “Nobody wants glasses. You’re so weird.” My friend Kathy humored me by giving me an old pair of readers. “they’re not those, ’look! I’m wearing glasses’ type” she says. Those, of course, are they kind I want. Hers were a little too strong. Then I lost them. But finally, this year, I mistook a B for an 8, and I had to extend my arm to read a medicine bottle. Some dreams do come true!

The optometrist (I’ve learned this should not be confused with opthamologist or optician, though I can never remember which is which) came recommended by Jeff and Kathy. He has certainly hosted a game show, at least in his mind. He greets me with a wide smile and conservative, wire-rimmed glasses. He is cordial and gabby. Within five minutes I know about his entire family history. “Would you please go the room on the right, Stephanie, “ he says, sweeping his arm in that direction. I go to the right, sit nervously on the chair. Maybe he will think I’m exaggerating. I always have this fear at doctor’s offices—that I will be seen as a hypochondriac.

He switches lenses in front of my eyes as I look at the letter chart. “Which is better?” he asks,” Number one or number two?” “Number one is clearer,” I say. He has this habit of sucking back the excess spit that forms in his mouth when he’s talking so fast. “Sssssssttt. Going with number one!” he says with the same enthusiasm he might have used had I chosen door number one, with the Cadillac behind it. “Now which is better, more focused, Number one or Number two?” “Two,” I almost whisper. “She likes number two better this time!” he booms. We continue, until I have won the prize! “Sssssssttt. You are not imagining it,” he says. “Your eyes have had too many birthdays. If I had a quarter of a cent for every time I’ve told someone that,” he says, “I’d have more money than the lottery! Sssssssttt.” This is not exactly the way I always imagined it. Not the “too many birthdays” part, at least. Still, I am happy. I get glasses and my prescription isn’t sold in the grocery store, so I get real frames! I think you know what I’ll pick.

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§ 4 Responses to All obstacles in my way

  • Steph, you’re a hoot! Do you know that I always wanted glasses, too, because everyone else in my family except my mother had them. I just knew I needed them but Mom would brag and say I had good eyes like hers and she wouldn’t hear of me being tested. Then in 5th grade, I started wearing my sister’s old glasses to school to see the board better and all was well until Miss Palmer (my teacher and Mom’s old college chum) told Mom I did much better on the days I remembered to wear MY glasses. Was I in trouble! No longer did I have Mom’s good eyes but I became part of the rest of the family. Now Joyce has contact lens and I still wear glasses.

  • stephwhet says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one! That’s a great story.

  • Loretta says:

    I always wanted glasses and my dad was an optometrist! It was agony never needing them 🙂 Now I have them and I love them. I can’t wait to see yours.

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