Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Double Obsession

by Specs4ever

I don’t know if I was an optically obsessed person before the summer that I was 9 years old and attended a YMCA summer camp for the month of July, or if my obsession started at that camp. I suppose it doesn’t really matter much, since this is sort of “the chicken, or the egg” type of rhetoric. I do know however that by the time I returned home after that summer I was definitely optically obsessed.
At camp the kid who bunked below me, Richard, sometimes wore glasses. He didn’t really seem to need them, because more often than not they sat, arms folded and face up, on the window ledge above his bunk. Rich had the lower bunk, I had the upper bunk, and every morning we had to roll our bedrolls tightly, snap the 2 x 4 holding the outer edge of the bunk in place out of the notch, and roll the canvas covered 2 x 4 up tightly to the wall. Then our pillow and bedroll sat neatly on the rolled canvas, and our cabin was ready for the morning inspection. And, then we would go off for breakfast, with Rich sometimes wearing his glasses, but more often, not wearing them. I was confused. I thought if you needed glasses you had to wear them, so why wasn’t Rich wearing his glasses?

I suppose this curiosity lead me to the day that I found myself alone in our cabin. Rich’s glasses were folded, and lying in their customary place on the windowsill. I can still hear them calling my name that day. So, I took Rich’s glasses from the windowsill, and put them on my face. Everything looked weird, and I felt like I was ten feet tall. But, I could see through them. After a few minutes of walking around wearing them they made me feel a little dizzy, but this passed. I wanted to keep them on longer, but I could hear the other kids laughing and talking as they came back from the water, so I quickly removed the glasses, and placed them back where I had gotten them from.
Now I was hooked. Every chance I got I went back to the cabin and wore Rich’s glasses. One night the older kids were playing baseball, and all of the juniors were expected to go and watch them. Rich and I went, and sat together. At some point during the evening Rich took off his glasses, and set them beside him on the bench. I scooped out a hole in the sand, and I buried his glasses where I hoped it would look like they had gotten trampled into the ground if anyone found them. Rich never even noticed that his glasses were gone. The next morning he discovered that they were not on the windowsill, and we all had to search the cabin. Of course they were not there. Rich thought he had worn them to supper, but he wasn’t sure, so the dining hall was also searched. No glasses were found.
I left the glasses where they were for a full day, and the day after that while the rest of the campers were at the lake swimming I went to the ball diamond and retrieved Rich’s glasses. I walked for a couple of hours along the trails in the woods wearing them, and it felt great. I do not know what sort of prescription Rich had, but I suspect from what I know now that it was likely a low plus, with some plus astigmatism on a vertical axis, because of the way the glasses made things appear larger, and my feet seemed so much further away than normal. I wore the glasses as much as I could for the next 3 days.
Rich was quite upset because he had lost his glasses. He was sure his mom would kill him. So, I reminded him that I thought he had been wearing them at the ball game a few nights ago. We went back to the diamond together, and I helped Rich search the area where we had been sitting. What a pleasant surprise. Rich found his glasses, lightly covered with sand, where we had been sitting. I was almost embarrassed, as Rich was very thankful for my assistance.
After my return from camp I became a confirmed spectacle watcher. Glasses took on a special mystique for me. Soon I discovered that the lenses that made my grandma’s eyes look bigger behind them were plus lenses, and were used mostly to help people see to read. And the glasses that made our teacher, Mrs. Bales, eyes look very tiny were minus lenses, and were for people who couldn’t see far away. I spent the next couple of years looking at people who wore glasses, and determining if they were farsighted, or nearsighted.
By far the most interesting thing was when Linda Stone returned to school after our Christmas break wearing a pair of glasses. I knew instantly that Linda was nearsighted. And, for the next three years I could tell when Linda got new lenses in her glasses, even though she never told anyone about it. I could see that the edges were a little thicker, and I could see that there were more little circles around the edges of the lenses. I loved it.
I had been reading, and reading, and reading. I held my book very close to my eyes, because I had seen something that said that a child might develop myopia if he or she read too close, and didn’t take proper breaks to relax the eyes. Of course, I took absolutely no breaks. Every time I thought I detected my vision getting a little blurry, I would suggest to my mom that I should have my eyes checked. Finally, I had an exam. The doctor said I didn’t need glasses. I was crushed, but I didn’t stop reading as close to my work as possible.
Then other kids in my class started to get their first glasses. Every one of them seemed to bemoan the fact that they were now glasses wearers. I would have gladly traded places with any one of them, but all I could do was tell them that wearing glasses wasn’t the worst thing that could happen to them.
One evening after class I was on my way home. The gym door was open, and I looked inside. The girls in my class were all down at the other end practicing cheerleading. I glanced down, and Linda Stone’s street shoes were sitting there, with her glasses sticking up. I quickly grabbed them, and left. I didn’t think anyone had seen me.
I was correct. No one had seen me. However, the next day the school was all abuzz because Linda’s glasses had been stolen. She was at school for the first class, but then her mom picked her up to take her to the eye doctor. I knew that she would be wearing new glasses the following day, and I suspected that her new glasses would be stronger than her old glasses were, because I had noticed Linda struggling to see things over the past few weeks. I was right about this as well. Linda’s new glasses were noticeably stronger.
The fact that Linda needed new stronger glasses didn’t lessen my feelings of guilt over having stolen her old glasses. But, soon the fact that I had a pair of glasses to wear overcame my guilty feelings. No, I could not wear these glasses anywhere in public. I had to wear them when I was hidden in my room, or when I went back for a walk in the forest on our farm. But I had them, this was the main thing.
I have no idea what the prescription of Linda’s glasses was. I know that it took a few minutes for my eyes to get used to seeing through them, although this improved with time. And, I know that I was surprised at how much smaller everything looked when viewed through the lenses of Linda’s glasses. I would venture a guess that the actual prescription was somewhere between –2.75D and –3.25D, since I have read that a person with normal eyesight can overcome about –3D of over correction.
Soon I was spending pretty much all of my reading time wearing Linda’s glasses. But did this help create my own myopia. No such luck. By the time I finished High School I had gotten my drivers license – with a perfect score on the eye test I might add.
I was what they called a second chance baby. When I was born my mom was 42, and my dad was 45. They had been trying to have a child since they were in their 20’s. Now they had given up, and now I came along. By the time I was 20, and in my first year of university, where I was studying accounting my father was 65, and in poor health. My mom seemed to be the healthiest one, and it came as a complete shock when she suffered a stroke, and died. A few months after mom died, my dad passed away as well. So, now I was alone in the world.
Before I started university I had purchased a few pairs of glasses at various thrift stores, and I had been doing my best to wear glasses all the time. But, I still could see no difference. Whenever I broke down and took the glasses off my eyes soon reverted back to normal vision. This was getting me upset. What the heck did I have to do to make it so that I had to wear glasses?
One day the answer came to me when I was researching myopia on the internet. All sorts of places were pushing something called a phakic lens implant, where the lens went between the iris and the outer lens of the eye. Most of these lenses were for people with myopia in the range of –10D through –20D. But then I found that there was also a phakic lens implant that corrected up to +18D of hyperopia. I knew that wearing plus contact lenses would mimic nearsightedness, and I could have done this already. However, to me, putting a small piece of plastic in your eye before you could put on your glasses just wasn’t the same as being severely myopic yourself. I knew that the possibility of being able to find a surgeon in the USA or Canada that was willing to do this would be slim to none. But, I had a reasonable inheritance. I was young, and I was willing to travel.
I did a significant amount of research. It appeared that my best chance was going to be in India. Many of the doctors there had been trained in the USA. Finally I discovered a doctor that was willing to perform the surgery. There would be no records; neither of the surgery, nor of the large sum of money I was going to pay. Over five grand was going to disappear into thin air, but I was going to have my wish and walk out of the clinic a very nearsighted man.
Before I could have the surgery done I had to obtain a pair of glasses. But, before I could purchase a pair of glasses I had to determine what I wanted my final prescription to be. After a lot of dithering I decided that I wanted to wear glasses that had a prescription of about –20D. There were plenty of places that provided glasses, so I chose one of them, and ordered a pair of –20D glasses, in a heavy black plastic frame.
The doctor told me that he was going to insert a +15D phakic lens. According to his calculations this would give me the requirement for approximately –20D glasses. The glasses were ready, the lenses were implanted, and finally I was a –20D myope. I didn’t really care too much for the glasses I had purchased. They were biconcave, and were deeply dished on the front as well as the rear. However, they were going to serve the purpose. I was going to wear them for two or three days, and the good doctor was going to then determine my final glasses prescription.
When I returned for my final visit to the doctor before flying home he determined that I would require a glasses prescription of –20.50D, and a contact lens prescription of –15.50D. He immediately sent a runner to his supplier for the correct contact lenses, and when the runner returned, the doctor showed me how to insert and remove the contact lenses. They actually felt quite comfortable, but I knew I wasn’t likely to ever wear them, except when, as the doctor said, I was purchasing new glasses, as I could no longer see anything without glasses or contacts.
I was pretty proud of myself as I sat in my seat on the airplane, wearing my –20D biconcaves. They were great. I did notice that my vision wasn’t quite as sharp as I would have liked it to be, but a new pair of glasses with the additional –0.50D that I required would likely fix that up. And I was having a ball getting used to the weird sensations. I could swing my head with my eyes focused on a distant object, and after a minute or so of moving my head back and forth I would start to feel queasy, as if I were a little seasick. I was so going to love wearing glasses.
Of course I immediately ordered a new pair of glasses the day after I returned home. I hadn’t realized all the options I was going to have. With my prescription of –20.50D in each eye I was able to have myodiscs if I wished. Or, I could have another pair of biconcave lenses, but with a lot less curvature for the front base. Or, I could order a 1.74 hi index plastic lens, with a flat front, but maybe the sides might have to be shaved off a little unless I chose a pretty small eye size. I was in heaven. Finally I chose the 1.74 hi index plastic lens, and I chose a nice pewter oval wire frame. I again picked a fairly heavy black frame with wide temples and had a pair of myodisc lenses placed in them. My –20D biconcaves would serve as an extra pair, so I saw no need to order a nicer pair of biconcaves, and anyway the optician told me that since both pairs of my new glasses were going to have flat fronts for the lenses, I would find it hard to wear the biconcave lenses anymore.
I was all set to return to university for my second year. But I had looked and looked during my first year, and I had not found any suitable myopic ladies to interest me. Actually, I had completely struck out. There was not one single high myope who was wearing glasses in the whole university. So, I decided that maybe I should take a year or two off school, and spend a little time searching around. But most highly myopic women wear contact lenses. How was I going to find a highly myopic lady?
The more I thought about the problem, the harder it became to find a solution. Finally I struck on an idea. I would go from town to town, visiting the opticians in each town. I would tell them that my fraternal twin sister had been kidnapped when we were both 3 years old, and she had never been found. I would tell them that the only thing I had to go on to possibly find her was that she would be as severely nearsighted as I was, because we had both been very nearsighted when she was kidnapped. Maybe I would then be able to get the names of some highly myopic ladies who were close to me in age.
This worked like a charm. Oh sure, some of the opticians were not willing to divulge their customers names and addresses, but many of them helped me in my quest to find my “sister.” And, for those who wouldn’t give me a name and address, I managed to convince them to bring their customer to the store on a pretense, so I could meet with the customer in their presence. In the first 6 months I met and dated over 60 highly myopic ladies. Unfortunately most of these dates were short lived. Many of these highly myopic ladies were not willing to be seen in public wearing glasses. A couple of them didn’t even own a pair of glasses, and I couldn’t understand how they managed to function if they had a problem with their contacts. And, in most cases all these myopes could talk about was how they could hardly wait until they could afford to have their eyes “fixed.” That was enough to send me running immediately.
I had canvassed this one town for a few days now. I had met all the high myopes that the friendly opticians had put me on to, and I hadn’t met anyone that really attracted me. So, I was ready to move on. I pulled into a gas station and convenience store, inserted my credit card, and pumped a full tank of gas. Usually I just drive off, but today I needed something to drink, so I went inside. Standing at the cash register taking money from customers was a great looking girl with a fantastic pair of high minus glasses. How had I missed her? Was she just a new arrival in town? Was it possible she had never purchased a pair of glasses in this town? I paid for my bottled water, and I found myself asking her for an employment application. There was a sign by the register saying help wanted, so I guess I had thought quickly. But I really hadn’t intended getting a job.
I filled out the application, and returned to the store. The girl wasn’t there, but the manager was. She gave me a quick interview, and I was hired. No wonder I got the job. Anybody willing to work for what they were offering probably would have been hired.
I had been spending money like it was going out of style on this quest. So, I found a room in a nearby house. It was clean, and sparsely furnished, but it wasn’t expensive, and it was going to serve my purpose. I was initially on the 2 to 10 shift, and I was expected to be there 30 minutes prior to my shift start. Laurie was the cashier on the 6 am to 2 pm shift that I was replacing, and if we changed drawers at exactly 2 pm, it took her another 30 minutes to close out. So, I was spending an hour a day in her company. It didn’t take long before I had the feeling that Laurie was taking a few pretty good looks at my own glasses. I had been wearing the wire-framed oval hi index glasses, so after I noticed this I switched to the black framed myodiscs the next day. Sure enough, I could tell she was watching me whenever she thought I wouldn’t notice.
Unfortunately this gas station was a very busy one, and we were always short staffed. The cashier was really kept hopping, and I found I had to be pretty attentive, or some merchandise was liable to take a hike. Laurie had the same problem. I was off Friday and Saturday. Laurie was off Sunday and Monday. There was just no way we could get together, and actually Laurie hadn’t indicated that she had any interest in me, so I wasn’t sure if she would date me even if we could find a compatible time. I complained to the manager about the lack of help, and I know Laurie did also, as we talked about very little else during the shift change time.
I could take this no longer. Finally I asked Laurie if she would be willing to go to dinner and a movie with me on Friday, or Saturday night, as these were my 2 free nights. I was hoping that she would chose Friday night, but she didn’t, so I was happy enough to take her out Saturday night. We had a pretty fun time. Laurie is quite pretty, with a nice figure, and a decent bosom. Her hair was mostly bottle blond, but she has been growing it out, and the brown roots were showing for about 2 inches. For our date she had put her hair back into a ponytail, and this accented her glasses nicely. I still had no idea what her prescription was, as she was wearing about the thickest pair of rimless glasses I have ever seen.
Dinner went well, and then we went over to the theater. I purchased the tickets, and we went into the darkened theater.
“Do you want to sit fairly close to the front Mike?” Laurie asked.
“No, my glasses might be pretty strong, but they correct my poor eyesight quite well. Why don’t we sit wherever you are comfortable?” I replied.
With that Laurie chose us seats that were just back of the middle. I bought some snacks, and when I returned I noticed that Laurie was cleaning her glasses. I handed her the drinks, and the popcorn she wanted, and I took my own seat.
“That’s a good idea.” I whispered as I took off my own glasses and cleaned them with a special cloth.
“Can I see your glasses Mike?” Laurie asked.
“Only if you give me yours as security Laurie. I think we are both pretty helpless without our glasses.” I replied as we traded glasses.
“Oh, yours are stronger. Do you know your prescription Mike?” Laurie asked.
“Mine is –20.50 for both eyes. What is yours?” I asked, knowing that hers was a good 3 or 4 diopters weaker than mine.
“These glasses are –17D for both eyes, but I think I need stronger glasses again.” Laurie whispered.
“I didn’t think they would make glasses that strong in rimless.” I answered in a low voice.
“They did, but I know I can’t get any stronger ones unless I choose a frame. I had to order these from Hong Kong, over the internet.” Laurie said.
That first date was the start of a good thing. I understood that Laurie didn’t want to be out late on Friday evenings, because she had to be at work at 5:50 am Saturday. So, we usually went for supper, and hung around for a while on Friday nights. Saturday nights we went to a movie, or a dance. Laurie was still living at home with her parents, and I had that tiny little room, so we really had nowhere to go to be together. I was getting frustrated enough I was going to rent an apartment.
“Think about it before you answer, but if I rent an apartment do you want to move in together?” I asked one day during our shift change.
“I would sure love to get out of my parent’s house Mike, but I don’t know if I am ready for this yet. I will give it some thought though. How much would it cost me?” Laurie asked.
“That depends on whether you want to share a bedroom, or if you want your own. A one bedroom one is considerably cheaper.” I replied with a silly grin on my face.
“Oh, definitely a one bedroom – with twin beds.” Laurie replied with a chuckle.
“Well, if we took our glasses off we could parade around naked, and we wouldn’t see a thing.” I replied.
“Not on your life. The only time my glasses leave my face is after the lights are out. And I bet you are the same way.” Laurie answered.
“Guilty as charged.” I said.
“I’ll give you an answer tomorrow Mike.” Laurie said.
I was really hoping for a yes answer. Since I began dating Laurie I was having serious thoughts about marrying her, and if she agreed to move in with me I felt this was a giant step. She is pretty, and she has a great personality. And the best thing is that she is just the way I like a girl to be – extremely nearsighted. During the year we had worked together she had never once been at work wearing contact lenses. She had also never once mentioned anything about wanting to eventually have her eyesight corrected. She looked good wearing glasses, and she didn’t seem at all shy or nervous about the fact that her prescription was pretty strong. And, she had never uttered a negative word against my strong glasses.
When I came to work the next day Laurie told me that we were going to go apartment hunting on Friday after she got off work.
“One bedroom, or two?” I asked.
“One, with the largest king sized bed we can find. And you are going to have to stick to your own side.” Laurie replied.
“Even if I ask you to marry me?” I asked.
“Are you asking?” Laurie said.
“Yes Laurie, I am asking you to marry me.” I replied.
“Mike, we can’t afford to get married. We can barely afford to live together on the money we are making.” Laurie replied.
“And, I am about to quit work, especially if we get married. I have completed one year of university, and I have 2 more to go to get my degree in accounting. Then I can make a lot more money.” I replied.
“What will we live on?” Laurie asked.
“I have some investments, and a small trust fund that my parents left me. We will be just fine.” I said.
I had no friends to invite to my wedding. I even had to borrow Laurie’s brother to be my best man. While the preparations for the wedding were going on I had a nagging little feeling that something was wrong, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Then it came to me. Laurie had grown up in this city. But when I was going around to all the optical stores looking for my missing “sister’ not one of them had given me Laurie’s name. This was strange, very strange, but I figured that they must have just missed her somehow.
Laurie was still working her 6 am to 2 pm shift at the convenience store. I had signed up for classes, and I had quit my job. Now we had a little more time together to enjoy each other’s company. We discovered that we were very compatible, and we were having a lot of fun.
One day a package came in the mail for Laurie. I could tell that the package contained at least 2 pairs of glasses. This was strange. She had not mentioned having an eye exam. That night when Laurie came home she saw the package, and she was very excited. She opened it up, and there were 2 pairs of glasses inside. She tried both pairs on, and they both looked great on her.
“I didn’t realize you had your eyes checked.” I said.
“Oh, now I have to tell you. Sorry Mike, I should have told you before.” Laurie said.
“Told me what? That you had your eyes examined? Sure, it would have been nice to know, but you didn’t have to tell me. You are a big girl, and you can do what you want.”
I replied.
“No, that’s not it Mike. I didn’t have my eyes checked. Actually, I have never had an eye exam in my life. And that is what I should have told you.” Laurie said.
I was flabbergasted. No wonder no optician knew that Laurie was a high myope. But how had she gotten her glasses. How was it that she could see with her glasses? And, I knew she wasn’t wearing contact lenses. I would have spotted them in her eyes.
“This is going to take some splainin Lucy.” I said, in my best Desi Arnaz voice.
“Yeah, I know. I should have told you before Mike.” Laurie said.
With that the story came out. When Laurie told me about her best friend getting glasses at age 9, and of her wishing that she could also wear glasses I completely understood. A year later when Meg got new glasses she gave her old glasses to Laurie, because Laurie told Meg that she could see better with Meg’s old glasses. Laurie wore these glasses for school the year she was 10. Then when Meg was 11, Meg got a stronger prescription again, and Meg’s mom bought her contact lenses. Meg had disposable lenses, but instead of disposing of them weekly, she wore them for 2 weeks. Laurie had been interested in Meg’s contact lenses, had tried them on her eyes one day, and discovered that she could wear them, and still see fairly well. So, for the next 6 years Laurie wore Meg’s contact lens prescription. Every time Meg had a prescription increase, Laurie ended up with stronger contact lenses as well. By age 17 the 2 girls were wearing –7D contact lenses, which translated to a glasses prescription of –7.75D. But Meg’s family moved, so Laurie was no longer able to get her contacts from Meg.
So, Laurie went online, and she ordered a pair of –10.00D glasses. Laurie didn’t know anything about glasses, but she managed to do everything right, and when her –10D glasses came in they actually looked much weaker. Laurie had ordered the thinnest possible lenses, and a small eye size. When she showed up in front of her parents wearing the new glasses Laurie had been prepared for a lot of questioning, but when she told her parents she had her eyes tested, and she needed glasses, they accepted this, and nothing further was said.
By age 18 Laurie decided an increase in her prescription was in order. So, she ordered a pair of rimless –12.50D glasses. These glasses looked a bit thicker and stronger, but again nothing was said. For her next increase Laurie ordered a pair of –14.75D glasses, and she wore them until she was 20. Then Laurie ordered the pair she had been wearing when I first met her. Now the new glasses that Laurie had just received were –18D.
Now that Laurie had told me her story, I felt compelled to tell her mine. When I told her that my –20.50D prescription was due to lens implants she just looked at me in a strange way.
“So, I married you under false pretenses.” Laurie said.
“Well, sort of, but does it matter. It appears that we are both deeply optically obsessed.” I replied.
“It matters in that I was counting on you to provide the myopia genes for our children.” Laurie said.
“And, I was counting on you. But, if we want nearsighted children we will just have to let nature take its course. We will help nature all we can by providing our kids with lots of reading material, and we will emphasize close work. But, really, all we can do is hope.” I answered.
“I still love you, no matter what.” Laurie said.
“And I love you, even more than I did before.” I told her.
October 2007

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