Monday, March 18, 2013

A place where nobody knows me

by Bobby

Here, I would like to write about the "place where nobody knows me" clause.
At first I experienced it. When I lived in Prague I took my long walks in a blurry world when I had my strong glasses days, I did not want to meet anybody who knew me as I could not imagine how  I would explain the reason why I was wearing such thick glasses. I was kind of ashamed for my strange "hobby".
Later I read the phrase at the Eye Scene and in the fictions, which are biographical to a certain extent, written by others.
The "place where nobody knows me" is almost a magic formula.
Most GOC wearers do not feel quite comfortable with the idea of "coming out".  I mean, most GOC wearers hide their strong glasses before their families and close friends, while they like to go for a walk or for shopping to a shopping mall wearing their thick glasses. We want to be seen wearing them, we enjoy playing the role of a person who really needs the strong glasses to see clearly. That’s why you read the phrase at the beginning of so many writings about wearing GOC or overcorrected glasses. A distant part of the town or a distant town helps us feel safe. We can behave like normal people. We shop, have dinner in a cafe, take walks and relax. Although there is something many of us miss during our glasses days: live contact with people and a possibility to speak with people about glasses. Some of us go to optic shops to ask about prices or certain types of lenses, because it can bring us a chance to bring up the glasses topic easily. I sometimes try to provoke a question about my glasses. While buying a copy of newspaper or looking for coins I say things like: "Oh my God, it is such a small print." or "It is too dark here I cannot find the coin." It works but not always.
I found out the glasses topic can be brought up while giving a ride to a hitch-hiker. In this situation I cannot say I see too badly. I always ensure the hitch-hiker I am fully corrected. A long ride gives me a possibility to speak about glasses to ask the hitch-hiker about his/her eye-glasses, diopters and history of his/her visual condition. The story I tell is usually different from the truth. Ii say I am form a very myopic family, where everybody needs to wear strong glasses, and hardly anybody considers glasses to be a problem. Only twice I told a different story. I said the reason I wore such strong glasses was to please my girl friend, who must wear strong glasses and I chose wearing GOC voluntarily to help her not to feel so different. Both version worked very well so far bringing the desired topic and a long discussion about glasses.
Some time later I surfed Internet using "pretend", "glasses", "handicapped", and "impaired" key words. I found websites created by people, and for people, who do a similar thing as GOC wearers. I found "wheelchair pretenders", "leg-brace pretenders", and "amputee pretenders". It was not easy for me to understand those people at the beginning. Then I realized they are very similar to GOC wearers. Their "hobby" (a funny and rather inappropriate word for the phenomenon, I think, but cannot find any other word to describe it), well, the hobby of some of them is to sit in a wheelchair and go "to a town or a part of town where nobody knows them" and wheel around. Some other people do the same with crutches. I also read about people who wear hearing aids although they do not need them.
What those people do is very similar to what GOC wearers do. All of them pretend a kid of disability. Please, do not misunderstand the concept of this pretending. They do not do it to lodge a fraudulent claims, to get benefits, to get money, to beg etc. No! They wheel or crutch just for the pleasure (Yes, they like it!) of wheeling or crutching and being seen as wheelchair users or crutch users in public places.  If you had read the large discussion of wheelchair pretenders in one of Yahoo! groups, you would have got to know they even do not use parking places for disabled people as they think it is dishonest! Those pretenders and us - the GOC wearers - are the same kind of "freaks". None of us know exactly what happened in our brains that we like pretending to be disabled. We just like it. Please, realize we do not harm anybody. We do not wish that the other people really needed thick glasses, wheelchairs or crutches. Of course, we like the people who happened to need the stuff. They attract us, it is true, it often makes us excited or even sexually stimulated when we see a person who wears strong glasses or needs crutches or a wheelchair. But we do not want anybody to have an accident that would make the person disabled. What we want is to have some leisure time we could spend on a safe place (where nobody knows us, *smile*) wearing our strong glasses or using the other stuff, respectively. I am sure that the glasses, hearing aids, crutches and wheelchairs are just different manifestations of the same, or very similar, phenomenon hidden deep in our sub-consciousness. Whatever it is, it is harmless. If we try to fight it, we usually become nervous or unhappy. If we have the chance to go and pretend for a few hours a week, we keep good balance in our lives, and we can live like anybody else.
What I would like to ask for is this: If you are not one of us, and if you find out that a friend of yours or a member of your family goes pretending, do not get angry, do to shout at them, do not try to make them visit a psychoanalyst, psychologist, psychiatrist, do not tell them they are insane, crazy or strange freaks. Just respect the difference. We know it is strange for the others. Look, there are people who like risking their lives by jumping out of a plane relying on a piece of cloth and a few ropes. They like to be called "air borne"; they do parachuting. Some people may think they are brave, courageous while other people may think they are very irresponsible. Some men love women with huge breasts, they surf Internet to find pictures of women with very big, in fact unnaturally big, breasts (like Chelsea Charms, who had 3,500 cubic centimeters of silicon implanted!) The other may find it strange or even disgusting. I met people over Internet who seek and collect pictures of women with strong glasses or women sitting in wheelchairs. Is it really such a big difference that public finds those breast lovers just funny while the wheelchair fans and glasses fans are considered to be freaks? I do not think so. Live and let the others live.

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