Saturday, February 15, 2014

Logan’s Obsession - part 2

by Dieter

(part 1 is here)

Just days prior to the start of the school year, I reported to the gymnasium to be given an annual physical required of all students for competitive sports. Since I was entering my first year in high school, the process was a new experience for me. Participation was intimidating due to the size and maturity of the older boys. They seemed more like adults compared to the boys in middle school. I had no difficulties with any tests or checkups until reaching the final station. I panicked as I realized, of the two lines displayed on the eye chart, I could see neither.

Unable to read the requisite letters, I stammered very quietly, “I can’t”.

It was a complete surprise to me. Of all the tests and checks of physical capabilities, the one with which I had expected to have no trouble, was the eye test. I had never failed one before. To my friends, I had always been known as someone with perfect vision. They, too, would be surprised by this outcome. After administering the test, a matronly nurse completed several forms without speaking further. She stuffed the forms containing the results into a packet and sealed it.

Handing the packet to me, she ordered, “This must be completed and returned to the Athletic Director’s office by the first of October.”

Without remorse, the nurse rushed me off and directed her attention to the next boy in line. That smart ass immediately began to read the letters on the smallest line. Had he not been a foot taller than me, and without razor stubble, I would have punched him in one of his two perfect eyes. I had been especially embarrassed by the fact that the guys waiting in line witnessed my demise. None of them were friends of mine. But after that, they knew that I had a vision problem. A bunch of jocks that didn’t even know me had stood by and watched while I grappled to see, a feat that I considered to be extremely personal.

The moment I reached the hallway outside of the gym, I tore the seal of the packet and opened it. There was no way I was going to wait any longer before inspecting the contents within. The report explained sections of the physical and reasons for possible deficiencies. A box had been checked with a large red marker next to a notice stating that I had failed the minimum standards for vision. It continued to say that an eye examination was compulsory. The results of which had to be documented on another form and signed by either a doctor of ophthalmology or a doctor of optometry. A signature was required of one of my parents confirming their acceptance prior to returning the forms to school. Just the fact that I walked out of the gymnasium with a packet in hand identified me as someone who failed some aspect of the physical. For me it would have been easier to accept the discovery of most any other condition; a heart murmur; deafness perhaps. Eyesight was the most intimate subject especially when it pertained to mine. I was in no mood to answer questions from friends and acquaintances. So when a guy I’d known from middle school stopped in the hallway to talk, I tried to play down my dilemma.

After listening to my story, he stated factually, “You’ll just need to get glasses like me.”

It was just that simple. I began to replay events in my mind. It dawned on me that I had recognized the myopia previously before understanding it. That was why I had experienced the incredible clarity, especially after dark, while wearing Stephen’s glasses during that recent weekend. After arriving home, the first thing I did was retrieve my mom’s glasses from her dresser. For the rest of that day, I wore them off and on giving myself constant vision checks. I compared things across the room. I compared while watching the television. I compared objects outside when looking through the windows. I even dug out the eye chart in the Bates book and used that. There was no doubt. I could see more clearly when using the glasses. Had I gotten what I’d thought I wanted?

Under considerable duress, I forwarded the packet to my mom that evening. Awkwardly, I explained that it must have been a mix up knowing full well that I had been unable to read the eye chart at school. Was I expecting to find an easier one at a doctor’s office? Maybe it would have larger letters. My mom, in a very nonchalant way, said that she would call the next day to schedule an appointment for me with her ophthalmologist. Of course she showed no apprehension. She already wore glasses. Why should it bother her if I had to do the same? In fact, it almost seemed as if she was eager for me to join her. When she saw the look on my worried face, she tried to reassure me.

“Relax, Logan. Everything is going to be fine. Lots of people wear glasses.”

Yeah, lots of people. Except that I wasn’t ready to enroll in the “Fifty Percent Club” just yet. I was only fourteen so it was a bit early to connect with the population half that wore glasses. Could you get back to me at a later date? Perhaps I’ll be prepared to join sometime after finishing high school. Yeah, that would be good; sometime around adulthood. I know I’d thought I wanted to wear glasses, previously. But faced with the reality of a lifetime commitment, I was having second thoughts.

I still couldn’t shake that sense of feeling below standard to those that didn’t need glasses. For some reason that thought was even more gripping when I realized that I would be second rate to girls with perfect vision. I think that may have been the root of the problem for me. I associated glasses in relationship to girls and women. The glasses that I found attractive were feminine. The girls that I found most attractive wore glasses. I didn’t often notice eyewear made for boys. Glasses did not make a guy more attractive to me. Guys who wore glasses were the exception only when they got noticed by the girls. I envisioned being like them.

But even my desires of sexual arousal stemmed from my imagination of what it was like to be a girl wearing glasses. Did I fear the connection that I made to wearing glasses with sexual stimulation? I don’t think so. I knew that wasn’t true. I had spent a great part of that recent weekend wearing Stephen’s glasses and never felt the impulse to pleasure myself. I had been too excited with all of the other discoveries while out in public. I had especially enjoyed the experience of wearing glasses made for a male. That perspective was new.

One side of my obsession was absorbed with the idea of seeing through lenses; the sensation of frames on my face; the visual dependency. The other side of my obsession was captivated with the female form and the beauty of a bespectacled face; their reliance on eyewear and how they toiled to see without glasses; even the ways girls flirted using their glasses. Did I relate eyeglasses and the need to wear them to being feminine? Yes, I did. That was the real problem. And that’s why I wasn’t ready to have my own, yet.

I reflected back to a time when I was twelve nearer the beginning of my quest for visual discovery. A particularly cranky sixth grade teacher I had at that time, continuously caused great consternation amongst my classmates. She was the most demeaning educator I’ve ever known. Once, as she prepared my class for a visit by her father, she gave us several stern warnings about behavior. Included in those diatribes were many facts about the old man’s many attributes. But one of particular interest was the statement that her father “had never worn glasses a day in his life” as though that was some sort of character flaw. I remembered thinking how that must have sounded to my classmates that already wore glasses. It must have made them feel miserable to be so defective at such a young age. And yet, it was something completely out of their control. The funny part of that story was that when the teacher’s father entered the classroom the next day, he was wearing glasses. I remember watching all of my classmates’ heads turning about madly to gage each other’s expressions in the room. Everyone was wearing their “What the hell?” face! We laughed about it later.

It was statements of that nature that scared me, though. There were many people that thought glasses were a flaw but I guess there always will be. I had not freed myself from the phobia of their judgment. I had enough anxious moments of feeling mediocre without that. Because I had just failed the vision test, I really was feeling inferior. There is plenty of teenage angst at that age without dealing with a reminder of your physical inabilities every time you look into a mirror . . . . . and see glasses on your face.

Over the next several weeks, I worried incessantly. I felt as though I had been changed, somehow, by this new development. Was I not the same person? No, I now had an imperfection - my eyesight was defective. Was that really so major? And why did that frighten me so? In privacy, I loved everything about glasses and wearing them? Of course, that was a secret. But, I might be getting a chance to see through prescription lenses made specifically for my eyes. I could chose frames to enhance my attributes. They would be fitted for my comfort. With glasses, I could look mature and intellectual. Perhaps I might seem more attractive, possibly even sexy. I just wasn’t ready embrace the opportunity.

As the days progressed while I waited for the examination, there were a couple of memorable events that added further to my anguish. One morning as I was reading the sports pages while eating breakfast, my mom stopped in passing.

“Why are you holding the newspaper so close to your eyes, Logan?” she asked cheerfully. 

“When you get glasses you won’t have to do that anymore.”

“That’s how I always read!” I barked. I promptly realized my comeback was lame since it had provided a confirmation to my mom’s statement.

“I’ve been meaning to ask,” she continued, “whether you would prefer to wear glasses or contacts. You can have whichever you want.”

“It doesn’t matter. I’m not going to need either of them!” I replied hatefully.

Later, I felt awful about that whole exchange. My mom thought her observation would be welcome information but clearly I disagreed. And, she was trying to be nice by offering the option of contact lenses before I even had to “suffer the consequences” of wearing glasses. I knew kids that would have killed for that opportunity. I had only been ungrateful but, jeez, she had me all but diagnosed and prescribed!

Besides, dealing with hard contact lenses appeared to be far worse than glasses to me. Sure, their use allowed one’s eyewear to seem virtually incognito but personally, I could spot contacts always. They were smaller than one’s iris and reflected glare. Because of that, they often appeared to be an off-color object in an eye. Even when I didn’t observe the contacts in someone’s eyes, I recognized the “moments” of a wearer; the fits of blinking; the peculiar facial spasms; an intent squint as though some prolific event was about to occur. Nevertheless, there were constant issues and maintenance looked to be nonstop. I had witnessed the impromptu “cleaning by mouth” prior to watching a wearer place a saliva-soaked lens back on her eye. The opportunities for embarrassment were endless, too. Contacts could be popped lose by an abrupt bump or an unexpected gust of wind. Everyone back then remembers the ordeal of suddenly being told to “freeze” while a wearer dropped to the ground on hands and knees then enlisted all others to do the same to hunt for an impossibly hard to find lens. A single contact lens was too expensive to be left behind without a search mission.

On the morning of my exam, I was talking with my girlfriend, Diana.

When I casually mentioned where I was going after school, she shrieked, “You won’t have to get glasses will you?!”

Everyone in my homeroom class must have heard what she said. Not only had I been trying to keep my situation quiet, her reaction scared me. Of all people, I had expected to acquire her support. As most of my girlfriends had some form of eyewear, Diana was no exception. She wore contact lenses and was one of the first people that I knew personally that did. In the time that I had known her, I had never seen her in glasses. Her childhood photos revealed specs with the strongest myopic prescription I had ever seen. She must have struggled incessantly to wear hard contacts at any time of day when in public. There was no way she could have functioned without corrective lenses but I had never seen her try. I had enjoyed watching her fiddle with her contacts many times. During each occurrence, I observed the blank hypnotic stare of her unaided eyes as she cleaned the lenses. Perhaps she simply didn’t want me to deal with the quandary of poor eyesight and the hassles of eyewear as she had. But on that particular day, to me it felt more like she just didn’t want to have a boyfriend who wore glasses. Looking back, it might have helped if I had confided in her sometime prior to the final morning as though it had been a secret. After all, I had known the exam was coming for weeks.

After school my mom and I made the ten mile drive across town to the ophthalmologist. As I gazed through the car window, I kept thinking that my vision seemed alright. Still in denial, I told myself that seeing wasn’t that difficult. But, that wasn’t the truth. I remembered the remarkable clarity I had while wearing Stephen’s glasses. And on a daily basis, I had continued to compare my eyesight using my mom’s old glasses. It was obvious that I could see better with them. Had I not been so afraid of what was happening to me, I would have enjoyed those moments of visual cloudiness. But, I feared my fate. I believed I was doomed. Nothing was going to save me.

I sat quietly in the darkened room awaiting the doctor. In that environment, my eyesight felt very inadequate. I could barely tell there was a chart on the wall much less read it.

When Dr. Spenser entered, he asked the obvious question, “Having trouble seeing, today?”

To which I replied sarcastically, “Not really.” That had to be an embarrassing moment for my mom. It was an especially stupid remark based on the facts of what I knew to be true. It gave notice that I was a smart ass. And, it set the tone of my relationship with Dr. Spenser both then and in the future.

He looked at me dubiously and said, “Let’s see how you do.” The doctor knew I was there for a reason. With that he turned on a light that focused onto the wall and the chart came into view, much to my relief. But I was quickly flustered again, when I realized that only the top half was clear.

“Read line eight if you will.”

As I stalled for time, he added impatiently, “The line above the red line.”

Oh, that line. I could spot the obvious red streak. But I still couldn’t recognize the symbols above it. Were they written in Cherokee?

“I can’t,” I finally exhaled in defeat. The phrase, “I can’t”, had become my credo.

“How about line seven?”

“No, still too fuzzy,” I whispered while squinting.

“Try line six, the one above the green line.”

Those symbols were beginning to resemble letters so I read very slowly, “B, P, P, C, G, P.” Of course, I knew there couldn’t be three Ps but honestly all of the letters looked the same. I thought they all looked like a P.

“Last chance – can you read line five? That’s the 20/40 line.” For a professional, he was enjoying this a little too much.

“F, E, C, F, D,” I guessed again. Though nearly readable, those letters were not totally in focus either.

“Almost, you missed the first one,” he said almost glowing.

Without further hesitation, he dimmed the lighting in the room and began examining my eyes peering through my pupils with a very bright light. My family physician had done that from time to time. Oddly, my eyes had not been dilated so I would be spared the embarrassment of wearing those silly cardboard sunglasses. After a few minutes of scrutiny, he swung the phoropter in front of my face and adjusted the sights. Since I had seen photos of that, I knew what was coming and I thought, “This is it, four-eyes”. He opened one of the sights and began flipping various lenses in and out as my eye struggled to decipher what was happening. That I had not experienced before. The doctor continued adjusting lenses while looking into my eye. I could feel the intensity of his light converging at the back of my eye. When he saw what he liked, he started to fine tune while I focused on the chart. He asked repeatedly, “Which is better? Number one or number two?” When I was satisfied, he repeated the entire process on my other eye.

Then, he opened the sights to both eyes and for the first time I encountered the miracle of seeing through lenses fitted to maximize my vision. Truthfully, as it was my first time behind a phoropter, the experience felt erotic. I can’t explain why. Maybe it was just the stimulation of feeling my eyesight focused so perfectly by an external source. I became vastly aware of a sharp pain, though, as something in my eyes pulled under the strain of using the lenses. It was similar to the first time that I wore my mom’s glasses except there was an additional impression of being unable to blink or move my eyes. For the moment, it made me very apprehensive about needing glasses. If they were so good for me, why did my eyes feel so stretched?

Now read line eight,” Dr. Spenser interrupted.

With no uncertainty I could read those letters as well as the ones on line nine. My eyesight had been perfected. So much so, that I could read line ten which I would later discover was the 20/12 line. How cool is that? I had 20/12 vision! Other than line eleven, all lines on that chart were focused and their letters were dark, black, and bold. I saw the letters that I missed on lines five, six, and seven. It was incredible. I don’t know if I had ever been able to see like that before. Perhaps I had never had “perfect vision” before. I had only thought so. My fears were gone. They had been relieved by a sense of calm. Any previous concerns of embarrassment had vanished, as well.

I liked this new feeling of visual freedom. It was my time. That is what I had wanted for years. I felt it during my previous adventures. Now, I won’t have to sneak around using the discarded glasses of others. I’ll have my own and they’ll be made for me. No one can question when or where I wear glasses, either. It will be perfectly normal to use them anywhere at anytime. Lots of people wear glasses. And, they can do almost anything as well as people with perfect vision. In the confines of that small exam room, witnessed only by the doctor and my mom, I needed glasses!

Dr. Spenser intruded into my moment of euphoria to interject, “You have perfectly normal and healthy eyes. They are a little nearsighted with some astigmatism. But I don’t recommend putting you into corrective lenses just now. Your vision doesn’t require a very strong prescription. Let’s give it some more time. Come back in about a year and we’ll check again.”

With that he pushed the phoropter away from my face to its resting position and turned on the lights in the examination room. Instantly, the incredible vision was gone and my eyes relaxed.

Was he kidding? He wasn’t. It was as though the doctor was teasing and taunting me. He showed me the best I could be, exposed my innermost dreams, and then stripped it all away. With a nod to my mom, he left the room. That was it – no further explanation. I felt empty. I was consumed with disappointment, yet relieved at the same time. I almost turned to my mom to say, “See, I told you so.” but gloating seemed inappropriate. A celebration didn’t feel right, either. What had the doctor meant by “giving it some more time”? More time for what? To get worse?

The good news, I guess, was I didn’t need glasses. I wouldn’t suffer the embarrassment of arriving in classes at school for the first time wearing them. I wouldn’t be forced to explain endlessly to friends and acquaintances exactly what was wrong with my eyesight describing just how poor it was. I wouldn’t endure the inadequacies of struggling to see while other people viewed the world perfectly. But there was one major flaw with that previous statement. Icould no longer see perfectly. I didn’t have 20/20 vision. Not anymore.

In fact I could only see at twenty feet what they could see at forty. Someone with perfect eyesight could see twice as far. It took some time for me to process that fact, actually. I had labored to see the 20/40 line and even missed a letter. No glasses, yet at best, I could see half as far as someone with perfect vision? Or to put it in an even worse way, I could see half as far as someone whose eyesight was corrected perfectly with glasses. Wait, what did I just say? That’s right. My friends who wore glasses could see farther than me. Not having glasses was almost worse. I felt fraudulent. Would I miss things in classrooms? Would I struggle to see at assemblies, sporting events, and movies? Would I be forced into making embarrassing excuses? “Do you mind if we sit near the front so I can manage to see everything on the really huge screen?” Or like Morgan, my blind date had once asked, “Can you read anything on those movie posters?”

I was now like Morgan. The degree of myopia from which we suffered may have been different but we were both myopic, nonetheless. After that I did everything I could to avoid vision contests with other people, especially girls. As I said before, having worse vision than the members of the fairer sex, made me feel the most deficient. In those pre-liberated days, girls were supposed to be weak and frail. That’s what made them perfect! They weren’t supposed to be concerned about careers like boys. Girls didn’t need to be policemen, soldiers, pilots, astronauts, or even captains of industry. They were supposed to be teachers, secretaries, and librarians. Wearing glasses was almost a prerequisite for those careers. So why did they need perfect vision? But honestly, I just didn’t like being outdone in a contest that I couldn’t win anymore . . . . . especially by a girl.

For a while, I tried practicing the methods of the “See Clearly” book. I thought that I might reverse the trend since my visual problem was slight. The author had warned that there were certain activities that stressed eyes more. So, I began to feel guilty for reading for long periods, especially at times like right before bed or when I had a cold. But, I had to read and do close visual work for school. I began feeling guilty for not getting enough rest even though I slept eight hours a night. I wasn’t tired enough to sleep anymore. The author’s suggestions just weren’t practical. His theories seemed plausible enough, but never seemed to work. Eventually, I lost interest. Possibly the inner workings of the human eye were not as the author hypothesized. Perhaps I failed to practice his methods properly. Whatever the problem, I gained no discernable improvement. If anything, the use of the eye charts, showed that my vision degenerated even further.

From that point forward, my perception changed completely. I gave up. In all of my fourteen years of life experiences, I had never heard of anyone whose vision improved significantly. Despite the views of that book, I knew of no one who actually was able to discard their glasses. They might get contact lenses. They might squint, struggle, and contort to see without glasses. But I didn’t know anybody that was able to discard them. Sooner or later I was destined to wear them, too. My eyes were getting worse. My fate was sealed.

Predicting my future, gave me a sense of impending tragedy. I wanted it to be finished. I should have demanded that the doctor prescribe glasses for me right then and there. Without doubt, I had been too afraid and too proud to do so then. He might have done exactly that. But, like most other secrets of an optical obsessive, how do you step from the shadows? When and where do you ask for advice? I didn’t know anyone else like me. Should I do things to make my eyes worse? What? Read a lot? Read in the dark? Wear other people’s glasses? Will those things ruin your vision? I didn’t know the answers but I was willing to try anything by then. I continued wearing my mom’s glasses in privacy every chance I got. But truthfully, that was more about satisfying my fetish. I could not wear them all of the time.

As I progressed through the first year of high school, I was more compulsive than ever. Perhaps because of my inner turmoil, it was healthy to be more fixated on the opposite sex. Girls were, indeed, prettier in high school. They had matured and, at least physically, resembled young women. Of course, many of them suffered from the same fits of childish behavior as me. But that’s OK. It was half the fun of growing up. There were new discoveries daily. Constant surprises were waiting around every corner of the hallways, in classrooms, and at assemblies as more girls found they needed glasses to see. There were additional activities that provided more opportunities to force the issue, too, such as driving and attendance at sporting events. A face that was nondescript on one day became the object of infatuation on the next. I remember changing my routines often to get sightings once a new finding had been uncovered.

And the sightings were better than ever. “Long time” wearers updated to stronger lenses and newer styles. Wire rims had become quite popular. Because of the obvious differences in comparison to plastic frames they looked practical, comfortable, and forward-thinking. Their bold look was radical and seemed to make a declaration of protest. In my mind, girls wearing them were activists saying that they wanted change; they stood for an end to the Vietnam War; they wanted social reform and equality for all. I know I’m making an audacious statement but it felt true at that time. I loved the look and everything for which it stood. Yet, there was still something daring about the girls who chose to wear their colorfully gorgeous plastic frames as well.

Most every girl I dated wore contacts or glasses. I kept thinking that I was missing something by not being “one of them”. Wouldn’t that be a great common experience to share? At the very least it would be a good conversation starter. Wearing glasses is a very personal experience for many people. A discussion of visual issues always seems much easier between peers. Perhaps people feel they have shared the same experiences and suffered the same pain. I had been so close to having glasses of my own but I still wasn’t a member of their club. I was trying to work through my issues. I knew I had to face them like an adult. By then so many classmates wore glasses. I could fit in just as easily as I could stand out. I was beginning to realize that there was life without 20/20 vision. I knew that there were very specific limitations that put certain careers out of reach. But that was bothering me less and less. By then, I was developing other interests. Most of my heroes wore glasses; John Lennon, Roy Orbison, Ray Manzarek, Allen Ginsberg, Michael Caine, and Jigger Sirois. I knew I would be happy to be like them.

On an early spring afternoon, I was at a friend’s house listening to records. Max had recently started wearing glasses for reading and I noticed them lying on his chest of drawers. I hadn’t seen him using glasses since we weren’t in the same classes outside of sports and music. When he prodded me to try them on, I did. He contemplated slowly and said with an understated emphasis, “You . . . look . . . cool. You need your own.” I will never forget the look of sincerity on his face.

I considered his suggestion as though the decision was mine to make. For most people, it’s not that easy. For me, it probably would have been had I asserted my will with the ophthalmologist. I had to stand very close to the mirror to see myself, but he was right. I stared in awe for a minute or two without responding. They were wire-rimmed “granny” glasses with the rimless lenses. The style had been recently revived. Stephen’s black horned rims looked good but Max’s gold wire rims looked fantastic on me. I was beginning to think that I must have a perfect face for glasses. It seemed like every pair I tried looked great. In those times when many of us boys had long flowing hair, wire rims were an ideal accessory. They were stylish, retro, yet ultramodern. Back then, wearing them was like smoking a cigarette. You could look really cool. I confessed something to Max that I had never had the courage to admit to another person.

“Yeah, I’m going to need glasses soon. At an eye exam at the beginning of the school year, I only had 20/40 vision. I was surprised the doctor didn’t make me start then. Now I think my eyes are getting worse.”

Max replied, “Really? You need to get ones like mine. They look great on you.”

Then we went back to listening to music. It felt good to talk with someone. Max was one of the more popular guys at school and yet, he hadn’t been judgmental. He didn’t insult my character or manliness. He made no snide comment to make me feel weak or deficient. In fact, he had only been complimentary. Maybe it was time for me to look forward to this “gift” instead of fretting my circumstances with regret. As I had told Max, I was aware of distant objects being fuzzier. That realization was obvious every time I wore my mom’s glasses. I was conscious of straining to see in daily situations. Glasses were awaiting me with or without my permission. My fear had to be confronted soon. But, I wasn’t scheduled to return for an examination until the beginning of the next school. Perhaps it could wait until then.

Soon after that day, I attended a three-day professional seminar at the state capital. It was a distinct honor to represent my school and classmates. Only three of us had been chosen from my school. Unfortunately the trip was tedious and exhausting due to a massive snow storm that occurred unseasonably late in the region. The normal two hour drive had turned into a difficult five hour trek. We arrived at the hotel very late at night. With only a few hours sleep, we had to be up early the next morning to attend an orientation period to learn our responsibilities.

Thomas, one of my classmates, and I were paired with two girls from another school from across state. He instantly hit if off with the one named Jacqueline. That left me to work with her friend, Stephanie. To be truthful, I felt I got the better end of the deal. She was a pretty brunette with a quiet but pleasant demeanor. I immediately spotted contact lenses in her stunningly blue eyes. The four of us were inseparable that weekend. Despite the best intentions of others, we spent almost all of our free time together and ate meals as a group.

Our job was to assist the coordinators and speakers in a small auditorium. As we stood in the back of the room the first morning, I quickly realized that I couldn’t see anything on the screen being displayed by the overhead projectors. Nothing! As the day progressed, it seemed to get worse. I assumed it was from the lack of sleep. I couldn’t see the expressions of the speakers. In fact I couldn’t identify their faces. I could only imagine how they looked because I met each of them in the back of the room before they took the podium. By the end of that day I was drained. The only thing that had gone well was working with Stephanie. I really liked her.

Unfortunately, we stayed up talking late into the night as kids will do. The next morning, my vision was no better. I scolded myself for not getting more rest. My eyesight seemed much worse than I had ever remembered. I had never felt that helpless at school. Was it more difficult to see when in unfamiliar surroundings? Perhaps, it was easier to see when in familiar surroundings. That afternoon, Stephanie asked me to retrieve a new box of brochures that we were distributing to attendees. Gladly, I agreed but asked where it was. She pointed towards a table near the front of the room and added “Duh” with a wink. I headed toward that general direction until I was close enough to see the box. Once there, I discovered that it was rather large.

Not long after that, she asked, “Do you need to get your glasses? I can cover for you while you go to your room. You’ve been squinting to see everything for the last two days.”

Showing false indignity, I replied, “I don’t wear glasses.”

“Well you need to,” she scolded, “I can lend you mine if you’d like!”

Stephanie had assumed the obvious. I should to be wearing glasses. Prior to that weekend, I had become aware of my needless exertion. I had chosen to procrastinate. I certainly wasn’t aware that my myopic problem had become obvious to anyone else. I felt childish for needing to be reprimanded. But I deserved it. Now, it was time to face my fear.

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