I Kind Of Wish Visual Problems Upon Myself / 27 October 1997

It all started a few weeks ago when I happened to try on a co-worker’s pair of glasses. This is something that people who don’t wear glasses seem to enjoy doing all the time. It’s sort of stupid, but I think, for me anyway, the reasons are twofold:

  1. I’m curious to feel what it’s like to wear glasses, and it just might make me understand the life that the glasses-wearer is living, in some small way
  2. I feel a little bit superior because I can now see just exactly how handicapped they are, optically-speaking

And of course, us 20/20 people always say the same thing after seeing the world through someone else’s glasses: “Man, you’re blind.” But this particular time, trying on this particular pair of glasses (tiny, rectangular ones that evidently gave me a pretentious German video director-type look, something I have, coincidentally, been trying to achieve for years), I noticed that they actually improved my vision, esp. for things a long distance away. All frivolity was suddenly gone. The words “man you’re blind” were caught in my throat and became nothing more than an ethereal croak. I kept staring through the glasses at distant cubicles, then lifting them and squinting, then looking through them again. Over and over. Obsessively comparing the tiniest, blurriest details. What the hell was this?

The strange thing was this: I was a little giddy to discover that my vision was not as perfect as I’d thought.

My interest in eyeglasses goes way back, and there was a time back in high school where I would repeatedly say (to no one, to God or whoever) that I’d be happy to trade in one of my other defects (too numerous to list here) for poor vision, because I like how people look in glasses. I think glasses often make people look better, and regular readers of this website will no doubt recall that women wearing glasses are usu. 65%, give or take 5%, more attractive to me than unadorned women. I guess it’s a mixture of nerdiness, intellectualness, and flawedness (she can’t be perfect and unapproachable if she’s dependent on glasses to maneuver) that works for me.

I guess I’ve been expecting glasses to come my way soon, since everyone in my family wears them, and also because I spend most, if not all, of my time staring at a computer monitor or a movie screen or a book, quite often in retina-impairing light. But what will life be like, being dependent on these little accessories? Having to scramble for them in the morning when the smoke alarm is going off. Having to get a little handkerchief or something to clean them while I stare into a blurry void, pondering. Whipping them off my face and gesturing with them during an angry encounter (“Now look here, you: Aaron Burr purchased land in the Louisiana Territory for purely humanitarian reasons…”). Lowering them onto the bridge of nose and glaring disdainfully.

I always imagined myself wearing little, round Lennon specs, but I have a feeling my head is too big and circular to pull it off. I may have to go for those dark, squarish, clunky Buddy Holly ones (funny how we associate eyewear with rock stars, or I do, anyway). But won’t I look stupid? Won’t my head be weighted down?

[07 September 2000 Update: I now wear glasses.]

Joshua Green Allen

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