by Dieter(part 2 is here)
Being scolded by Stephanie was the most embarrassing moment I had ever experienced. She was absolutely correct to suggest that I needed glasses. I had stressed the relationship of a newfound friend simply because I couldn’t see without them. After that exchange, our conversations became cold and cordial. My false sense of pride had obviously pushed her too far. I had inferred that I was not as broken as she was which, of course, simply wasn’t true.
Stephanie had been mature enough to correct her vision. I wasn’t. Few conditions can be remedied by solutions that are so simple, quick, inexpensive, and yes, even fashionable. I had been irresponsible, childish, and stupid, all caused by my vanity; an immature fear of wearing glasses which was something that I had secretly wished to do for years.
That was my turning point. It marked the end of the person formerly know as Logan. Maybe it doesn’t seem like much, but it was important to me. The moment she finished with me, I passed through a black hole. The Logan that stepped from of the other side had been altered. Thank you, Stephanie. After that weekend, I never saw you again. But you changed my life.
Immediately upon returning home, I discussed the situation with my mom. I explained that I had been suspicious of my vision for a short while. The events of the weekend had erased all doubt. I told her that it was time to return to the ophthalmologist. Did I still fear the life sentence?
Absolutely, but at least I could control my destiny by facing the inevitable. Waiting any longer would force me to confront the problem at some other inopportune time. I had accepted my fate as an adult, finally. The next morning, my mom made the call for another appointment.
Had there been a choice, I would happily have begun wearing glasses immediately ... especially before I had too much time to think about it. It was already too late to turn back since I had shared my predicament with my mom. Due to the circumstances in that time, it would take nearly a month before the task could be completed. In the weeks that followed, I discovered that my desperation to see was as bad as it had been at the seminar. It was especially arduous in the dark. Equipped with the realization of my difficulties, I was exerting great effort to function in classrooms, hallways, and anywhere that I needed to see in the distance. I became a bit consumed with what I couldn’t do instead of dwelling on the fact that before my “awakening” I had been doing fine.
But I began to discuss my visual problem more openly with a couple of close friends. They encouraged me through those conversations. Being exposed allowed me to begin to shed my fear before I had glasses. I was offered opportunities to try theirs and use them in classes. Those steps were huge for me. I had never done anything like that before. That allowed more casual acquaintances to become aware of my situation having seen me wearing the borrowed glasses. My girlfriend from before had moved away so I no longer cared about her opinion. It would not have mattered. I had decided that anyone who could not accept me with glasses was not worth my time. Truthfully, acceptance was a great relief.
It had been ten months since I sat in the same chair at the ophthalmologist’s office. This time I knew the routine and I knew what to expect. There should be no surprises. I knew that the chart would come into view when the doctor projected the light on it. Unfortunately, when Dr. Spenser turned the light on, it didn’t. Almost the entire chart had disappeared. Though, I knew it was there, even the big E was nothing more than a smear. In fact, it was the only smear that I could see. How bad was that? How had my vision change so much in less than a year? I guess I wasn’t terribly surprised given my recent experience at the seminar. I knew my eyesight was bad. I just had not considered it in measurable terms.
Dr. Spenser and I went through the same routines as before except I tried to be nicer and show more respect. He was still a pompous ass. He explained almost nothing about my visual needs but I was too proud to ask. The only thing he told me was that my eyesight had “deteriorated to be somewhat worse than 20/200”. When finished, he referred me to an optical store nearby since his office did not dispense glasses.
He said, “I want to make sure these glasses are made right.”
Uh, OK. I didn’t know I would have to continue elsewhere. Honestly, I had had enough of Dr. Spenser’s sensational personality, anyway. Fortunately, it was the optical store my mom used so she knew what was customary there. We left the high rise medical center and drove down the street to a smaller medical center next to a shopping mall.
The really hard part began there. Inside, several of the walls were covered with frames. It was breathtaking. But, it was overwhelming for a first timer. I had never even chosen a pair of sunglasses before. There were so many shapes, sizes, and colors to consider. My mom motioned for me to sit in a row of chairs near the entrance. As I waited I overheard an attractive girl about my age at a nearby table. In discussion with an optician fitting her new glasses, she had been told she only needed to use them for reading. The girl had concerns about damaging her eyes if she chose to wear them more often. She seemed to be looking forward to the idea of wearing glasses more regularly. His reply included something about astigmatism, blah, blah, blah. If she had asked for my professional opinion, I would have told her that her choice of silver wire rims looked damned good with her dark hair and sexy eyes and she should wear them at all times no matter what the consequences. That’s when I concluded that an optical store was a rather dangerous place to be for someone with optical obsessions . . . but . . . oh, so pleasant all the same.
While I passed the time, I contemplated the small piece of paper that Dr. Spenser had given me. My prescription was hand written inside preprinted boxes. One line read: O.D. -3.25 +.75 X 090. The other stated: O.S. -3.50 +1.00 X 015. At the time, I had no clue what any of it meant. I had never read much about the measurements of visual prescriptions. An optician arrived, introduced herself, and asked for my paper.
She assessed the situation for a moment then tried to put me at ease by saying, “Don’t worry, honey. This prescription isn’t so bad. I’ve seen a lot worse. Your lenses won’t look too thick.”
I had not even considered that possibility. Why did she bring that up? Would my lenses be strong? I hoped she was right. And yet again, why should that bother me? I knew how much I preferred the look of strong lenses on girls. She seated me at a one of the small tables and we got started.
“Logan, do you prefer glass or plastic lenses?”
“Plastic,” I replied having had previous experience with that subject.
“The lenses are more expensive but worth every penny,” she added, “of course they will scratch much easier so you have to take better care of them. Let’s pick out some frames.”
The only thing I knew for sure is that Stephen’s glasses looked great on me. But almost every guy I knew had black horn rimmed frames. Max’s glasses had looked even better so I initially thought I might try some wire rims like his. After considerable deliberation, I chose dark tortoise colored plastic frames with a rectangular shape. They were kind of daring at that time but they were new and different. Their color complimented my face much more so than black plastic or wire rims. With all decisions made and choices selected, then I had to wait.
It took a week to get my glasses. That was the most agonizing part. Optical stores didn’t make glasses in one hour. It was frustrating to be uncorrected after comprehending the severity of my visual needs. Of course, my friends wanted to know the outcome of my exam. Unsurprised, they seemed to be anticipating the arrival of my new glasses as much as I was. They continued to lend glasses to me throughout that week. Since I had officially joined their ranks, there was no longer any concern by anyone including me that I could further “ruin” my eyesight.
The next week I sat anxiously before the same optician as she laid a small box in front of me. It contained a case made of suede. That would become an item of conversation every time one of my friends saw it. When the optician removed my glasses from the stylish case, I was no less disappointed. The frames looked even better with lenses fitted. She unfolded the arms, cleaned the lenses, and placed the glasses on my face. In close range scrutiny, the optician began the process of adjusting them asking for my opinions along the way. It took a while to get my glasses comfortable. As she worked, I was even more encouraged when I discovered the improvement in my vision.
“They feel strong.” I suggested.
“They are, Logan. This prescription is fairly stout for a first time wearer. Your astigmatism will complicate things even more. Let’s check.”
She led me across the store to an eye chart. Initially, everything looked bent. Countertops and display cases appeared bowed, yet I knew they were flat and level. Even walking felt like an out of body experience. My sensation was that of almost being able to see too well. I read the 20/20 and 20/15 lines easily.
“Can’t get much better than that, Logan. How do they feel?”
“I guess they feel pretty good.” I responded. No they felt fantastic! “How often should I wear them?”
“What did your doctor tell you?”
“He didn’t. He just sent me here.”
“Who’s your doctor?” she inquired while trying to remember the signature on my prescription.
“Dr. Spenser” I replied.
“That explains it. He’s not exactly a people person is he? Logan, you’re going to find it difficult to do most activities without glasses. Though you are somewhat nearsighted, you’re eyes may even find reading and close work a problem because of the degree of astigmatism correction in your lenses. Try them in different situations and see what feels comfortable to you. I’ll be very surprised if you don’t chose to wear them full time.”
Stepping from the store into the bright sunlight, I walked towards the car. My mom let me drive to test my newfound eyesight. After concentrating on traffic for a while, the sensation of everything being bent vanished. I never felt comfortable without glasses after that. By the end of the day, I felt naked without them. In time, I found that my prescription was very near my mom’s. She was a bit more myopic with less astigmatism. Was that from wearing her glasses as often as I did for all of those years? Like most kids, my prescription would increase at every exam for years. Eventually, it would become substantially stronger than my mom’s. It didn’t matter. I realized that glasses improved my flaws. Their shape made my narrow-set eyes look wider. The colors made my dark eyebrows and sideburns contrast even more with my blond hair. The lenses accented my eyes.
Why had I made it so difficult? Once I began wearing glasses fulltime, I was completely comfortable everywhere and in front of anyone. I didn’t feel deficient or inadequate. Being myopic didn’t make me defective. Correcting my vision opened more doors than being myopic closed. Trying to see without glasses was far more embarrassing. It was pointless, anyway. Once I realized what I was missing, I didn’t want to try. Within days I was hopelessly dependent. Besides it was kismet. It was the fate I deserved. I had obsessed for years about girls wishing to see glasses on every one of them. I deserved to share the same destiny.
My final act of denial occurred on my sixteenth birthday when I went to the DMV to test for a driver’s license. After completing the written exam, I was told to proceed to the eye test. Like all kids, I didn’t want the “corrective lenses” requirement marked on my identification card. It was as though I thought everyone would read those details of my driver license and pass judgment of my condition. All anyone had to do was look at my face to see that I wore glasses. When I looked into the viewfinder, I literally saw nothing. There were no letters. It was like looking at a fuzzy gray wall. I assumed the light had not been turned on in the machine.
After staring into the contraption for several moments, I said, “I don’t see any letters at all.”
“Are those your glasses in your hand, Logan?” the examiner responded.
“Yes, they are.” I replied.
“Try using them. You might be surprised at the difference they make.” he suggested.
The examiner didn’t say it in a sarcastic way. He said it more as a statement of fact. Like magic, the letters appeared once I put on my glasses. Later, I was completely awestruck by the futility of that act. The 20/200 line, a large single E, had been barely visible at the ophthalmologist’s office. What on earth made me think I had any hope of reading a line representing 20/40 visual acuity? It wasn’t as though I would consider operating a vehicle without glasses. I just didn’t want it written by law.
After that, I made no attempt to hide the fact that I was nearsighted. I had already become too dependent to see without glasses. By that point I was happier than ever. I got to practice my obsession almost continuously. Back at school, I received many compliments concerning my glasses. From the girls, those remarks were especially pleasing. Even more so from the girls I didn’t know who had never spoken to me before. Some of them were actually flirting with me. I discovered that I had new friends and fans. At times the compliments led into further conversations about glasses and eyesight. How perfect is that? I began to have discussions with girls about their concerns with vision and eyewear. They asked for my opinions. Better still, I found girls that wanted to tell me about their preferences. They allowed me to listen, ask questions, and discuss freely. Dig deep enough and you start learning about their obsessions. That’s when I knew I had never been alone.