Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Talk in the Train

by Bobby

Only two people were sitting in the compartment of the train. A dark-haired lady reading a magazine for women and a young man, who was trying to concentrate at a textbook the title of which read Statics for Civil Industry Volume I. Both of them were wearing glasses. The glasses of the man were quite modern with thin lenses of a low power. It was difficult to say if he really needed them to read. Probably they were more a fashion item than an optical aid, as the lenses were really thin. On the contrary, the glasses the lady was wearing were of a strikingly high power. Although the lenses were rather tinted, nothing could hide the huge optical power of those two pieces of glass. The edges of the lenses were thicker than the fashionable plastic frame. The rear held a small bowl ground into the material making the eyes of the woman looking small and sunken. The front surface was ground, too. It went inwards, it curved towards the lady’s eyes providing the lenses with a extra diopters.

The young man tried to read and understand the ins and out described in the textbook, but his eyes kept drifting at the lady sitting on the opposite seat. The lady was reading using a magnifier, later she was just browsing the magazine as if she could not decide which article to choose for the next reading. After a time she put the magazine off leaving it on the seat beside her. When she had been looking outside the window at the countryside passing by, the young man coughed and diffidently asked:
“Pardon … erm … sorry to disturb you … but, but … eh, may I ask you a question?”
The lady turned her head towards him. The lenses stopped reflecting the fields bathing in late afternoon sunshine and cast a flash. The lady’s small eyes looked at the man.
“Yes, of course.”
“How many diopters do you have in your glasses? I, I mean … erm … sorry I did not mean to …”
“Oh, that’s what keeps disturbing you from studying!“ The lady smiled showing two rows of perfect teeth. „I have 33 diopters, or better to say minus 33 diopters, which means I am very shortsighted.“
„Oh, thirty-three,“ repeated the man slowly, „I am sorry I did not know they are so strong. I am sorry I bothered you with such a pers…“
„No, it does not bother me,“ The lady did not let him finish his sentence. „Actually, many people ask me about my glasses. I am used to answering questions about them.“
„Well, one does not see lenses like that very often, they look unusual.“
„Unusual,“ the lady smiled, „sure, they are very unusual for other people. However, they are not unusual for me. I have been wearing glasses of this strength for quite a time. They are a part my everyday life.“
„I can understand they are a big help for you.“
„Yes, of course, I cannot see anything without them. I often say I am blind as a bat.“ The lady smiled again as if it was a real fun not to be able to see.
The young man just swallowed trying to overcome his confusion. He did not expect the lady making a joke about her strong glasses.
„You see, if you need to wear glasses of that power,“ she continued as the man did not say anything, „you must get used to wearing it, to accept it, and not to perceive it as a tragedy.“
„Have you always been wearing glasses of this strength?“ asked the man.
„No, I have not. Well, my eyes have always been shortsighted. I think I was born shortsighted because our family doctor recognized my myopia when I was very young. I wore glasses before I started attending the elementary school. The power of my glasses kept getting stronger and stronger. The progression had not stopped until I reached the age of 25.“
„There are many people in my family, who wear glasses,“ said the man, „but nobody needs more than about 2 diopters.“
„I can see, you can’t have more that 1 diopter, your glasses are very weak.“
„Yes, I have 0.75 and 1.25 diopters,“ said the man. There was a strange sad tone in his voice.
„Oh, you need not worry about your eyes then, your shortsightedness will never go much higher, let alone anywhere close to the numbers of mine.“
„Yes.“ said the man quietly.
The lady smiled at him again. He was sitting with the textbook in his lap and kept looking at her glasses. It seemed they kind of fascinated him. He was nervous.
The lady crossed her legs, arranged her large dark blue skirt, tilted her head to the right side and putting her hands one on her knee she smiled again to show him she was ready to continue the talk.
„How long have you been wearing your glasses?” She asked calmly.
„Since the grammar school.“
„So, you are a novice.“ She said jokingly.
He smiled, finally.
„I do not really need them, they just help me see a little better. But I can get along easily when I am not wearing them.“
„You are lucky. Your glasses are really fashionable,“ she answered. „I do not have too many frames to choose from when I go to an optic shop. Only a few frames are suitable to hold lenses of the strength I need. But I try to do my best.“
„Oh, your frame is also very nice.“ He returned the compliment.
„Thank you, I paid a fortune for it. The lenses are paid by my health insurance company, so I think I can spend more for a nice frame.“
They both smiled as the atmosphere was getting more relaxed.
„What kind of lenses are these?“ he asked, „I have never seen any lenses ground this way.“
„Well, there are called lenticular lenses. The central bowl, I mean the ring you can see in the center of my lenses,”she pointed at the center of one lens, “is the part that provides the most of the optical strength. Then there is the front curve“ she made a graceful gesture with her hand indicating the way the fronts were curved, „that holds the rest of the diopters I need. It would be probably impossible to grind all the diopters only on the rear part. Can you understand what I mean?“
He nodded.
„My glasses used to look quite normal and were much thinner when I was a child. But as the progression of my myopia went on, they kept getting thicker and thicker. I remember, I was about 11 years old when I had the first big jump in my prescription. My eyes worsened a lot that year. I had to go to the doctor just six months after the last visit, because I could not see the blackboard. That year, everything was getting blurred week after a week. The prescription was around 9 diopters. The new glasses I got that winter were much thicker. They were also heavier then the old pair. I remember I was really unhappy. I thought nobody would like me if I had to wear glasses that thick. In fact they were just little thicker than the frame, one could barely see it. You know, girls of that age are very sensitive. But I got used to wearing the thicker glasses very soon. And later, I had to get used to wearing even thicker glasses. The fast growth in teenage years strongly affected my eyes.“
The lady was telling the story of the progress of her myopia without the faintest breath of regret. She dangled a shoe on her quite nice little feet, smoothed out her skirt on her thigh several times and switched her eyes between the young man and the golden fields outside the window. Suddenly she smiled, pointed out the window and, rather out of context, said:
„I like this part of the country. Look at the lake.“
The young man looked the direction, but instead watching the lake they were travelling by, he focused at the mirror image of her face. It showed her glasses without the flashes of the front curves. He glanced at her to notice the lenses protruded about 1 mm in the front and a lot more in the rear side of her frames. They must be quite heavy, he thought. When he looked back at her mirror image, she was curiously looking at him.
„I like the lake too.“ he said.
They started speaking about the lake and the countryside, but some of the young man’s responses were rather inattentive as if he were thinking about something else. The lady continued the small talk about the country for a while. After some time she cast an earnest look at him and asked directly:
„What fascinates you about my glasses so much?“
„Uh, I don’t know.“ he said.
She smiled.
„Eh, you know,” he continued, “the bowls, I have never seen lenses with the bowls. I am sorry, if I …“
„Oh, yes,“ she interrupted him, „I haven’t told you when I got the first lenses with the bowls yet.“
She crossed her legs again.
„I got my first glasses with lenticular lenses, you see, lenses with these bowls when I was 14 years old. The problem was, my lenses became too thick after they had reached certain strength. From the age of 13 to 18 my glasses went up in 2 diopters steps, well it was 3 diopters one year I think. Imagine the progression from 13 diopters to 24 in such a sort time. I had real difficulties to see, and my glasses got thick and heavy. They were very uncomfortable. I had to choose. Either I could wear glasses with lenses thick as hell, actually more than 1 centimeter, or I could wear much thinner lenses with these small central bowls. I did not start to wear the lenti glasses overnight. For some time I switched between glasses fitted with the new type of lenses and a pair with the old type. My prescription had exceeded minus 20 diopters when I was 16. I was a very shy girl. I had very few friends and no boyfriend. I thought nobody wanted a girl with such a horrible handicap. I think now, I was mistaken, because boys do make passes at girls with glasses,“ she laughed shortly, „the old song is not right. But that was how I felt and it was clear the strong strange glasses changed me into a quite self-conscious girl. Meanwhile, my eyesight kept deteriorating till the moment there was not any other choice for me but to wear lenticular glasses fulltime. I had 27 diopters at the age of 20.”
She sighed.
“Then one day I managed to recover from my complex. I was looking into the mirror in our bathroom getting ready for a party with my colleagues, I was single and ugly, I had no boyfriend and next to no friends. I realized if I did not change my life I would spend it lonely and sour towards the whole world. I said to myself that my handicap would not prevent me from living a vital life. That day I accepted my glasses and stopped hiding my face under an old-fashioned hair dress. The glasses stopped being a problem for me. I found out I was not handicapped, I was special, and my glasses were the thing that made me special.“
The young man was staring at her completely bewitched by her story.
„You seem you like wearing them.“ He said suddenly.
„Well, in fact, yes. Definitely, I do not hate them. They help me see and they declare: Here I am as special as you can see. Take it or leave it.“
„I have always thought severe shortsightedness must bring many problems to people who suffer from it.
„It does, but the only way how to live a happy life is to overcome the problems. See, it was really no fun looking at my face into a mirror when I was a young girl. The glasses were getting thicker and ticker every year. They were heavy. I had marks on my nose. They slid down when it was hot and I sweat. When I was at the elementary school the kids called me four eyes. My Mother was desperate when my eyes started deteriorating fast. I cannot see well and I need to use a white cane as soon as it gets dark. I did suffer until I accepted it, until I got reconciled with the fact I will always have to wear the thickest glasses in the town.“
They kept talking. The young man listened, sometimes asked a question, sometimes just nodded with his eyes riveted to the two fascinating pieces of glass that were sitting in front of her eyes. He never looked at her breasts as other men often do. He did not notice her rounded hips. He did not gazed at her mature body even at the time when she said him good-bye and was going to got off the train. Then he just watched her standing on the platform, unfolding her white cane and leaving towards the exit in the dusk of the summer evening.
Thirty minutes later the lady came to the front door of our house and rang the bell. I opened the door. As she was folding her white cane and putting her bag on the closet in our hall I admired her beautiful figure. Her new large navy blue skirt really suited her and her smooth white top showed her pretty full breasts. I caressed her rounded bottom.
„Hi, darling, what was the way like?“
She turned her head to me. Her tiny eyes hidden behind the super thick lenses were laughing. She gently touched my earlobe and the left temple of my glasses.
„Kiss me, Bobby.“
I gave her a kiss keeping my eyes open so that I could enjoy looking at her strong lenses. Neither she closed her eyes. She never did. She was also looking into my eyes behind my thick glasses. Then she started putting down her shoes and said:
„It was quite funny, you know. There was a young man in the same compartment. He had the glasses fetish. He could not stop staring at my glasses. I wondered when he was going to start asking questions. Well, he was quite shy and nervous. It took him more than one hour to pluck up the courage.“ She laughed merrily. „I told him a drastic story about deterioration of my eyesight, more and more diopters, self-consciousness of a young handicapped girl and the stuff, you know the things that must have turned him on like hell. One moment I thought he would explode.“
She sat down, opening her purse.
„It was quite funny to play the game. I hope it did not do any harm to him.“
She put out a case with glasses and a contact lens container.
„Are the children already in bed?“
„Yes,“ I said. Our kids were sleeping safe and sound in their bedrooms; their glasses were folded neatly on their nightstands.
„I will look at them, but first let me take my contact lenses out and put my weak glasses on. I have been wearing the glasses over contacts combo since the early morning and it was very dusty today.“
When she changed her strong glasses and put on her frame –12 special plastic lenses protruding 2 centimeters out of the frame, we went to the children’s bedrooms together. Our kids were sleeping quietly. Tom was still keeping a book about Harry Potter in his hand, our 10 years old Luisa was embracing her loved teddy bear.
The next day we were to go to the optic shop to pick up her new glasses fitted with minus 9-diopter lenses.
The End
written in Sept 2005

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