I’ve worn glasses since I was probably, oh I don’t know, 10? I probably needed them before that, but no one seemed to notice (including myself) until about 4th grade. It was at that point that I think maybe my teacher or someone saw that I spent a lot of time squinting at the blackboard. Which must have been really funny if you are into people making stupid faces because the thing about my eyes is that one of them is almost just fine, while the other one is almost pretty much blind. So i really needed to squint the bad eye a lot, while the good eye had almost no squinting at all. So I ended up looking like a drunk pirate or who knows what. It was kind of like this:
So, as you can imagine, that was a lot of fun at my expense, because I never even realized that’s how I looked without glasses until maybe high school when my friends finally felt like it was OK to make fun of me for my disability. We called it the old stink eye. I got a lot of hell for that, that and always having chapped lips…but that’s a different story.
So you would think that I would rather wear my glasses right? That I would have realized I looked a lot better with glasses than with old stink eye. But you’d be wrong. Because we all know how cool glasses are. Which is, not very. Or at least not back then because Tina Fey hadn’t made them cool yet, and I hadn’t realized that glasses could actually be a fashion statement, and definitely hadn’t realized that it was OK to politely explain to my mother that I didn’t really like the glasses that she picked out and thought were oh so classy. Granted, I would agree with my mother these days (to an extent) but back then I was so desperately trying to figure out what it meant to be my own person while being simultaneously terrified of rebellion. Which resulted in a lot of unfortunate fashion choices. So my solution was to go with the glasses my mom picked out but only use them when I really needed to, like driving and looking at the chalkboard.
I can only imagine looking back how much harder I must have made things for myself, although at times, I did enjoy the mystery of wondering “is that boy looking at me? or is he looking at something 20 yards to my right? I really can’t tell, but I’ll assume he’s looking at me so I can pretend to ignore him.” Because that’s what I did to boys I liked back them. I ignored them. I ignored them so desperately because, well I don’t know why. I guess i thought it made me seem cooler. Which i really needed because of old stink eye, you know.
So anyway, I had a need/hate relationship with my glasses until probably after I graduated from college. At which point I started working fulltime and spent most of my time hanging out in offices full of people I didn’t really care about, let alone want to impress with my stunning good looks. So I started just wearing my glasses all the time. Eventually I found a pair I even liked that said “Just hip enough but not trying too hard.”
So you would think I’d sort of made my peace with glasses, right? Or maybe you’re wondering at this point in the story… “Why didn’t you ever just consider wearing contacts?” Well I’ll tell you why. And now I know I was right all along. You see, I always just assumed contact lenses would be a pain the butt. As a teenager I could barely be bothered to clean my room once a month, let alone clean my contact lenses every night. I had a hard enough time remembering to clean my retainer…(yeah, I had one of those too, but that’s a whole other blog post). Plus I also kind of had this thing about sticking things in my eye. I just sort of assumed that there was a reason our eyes acted like they did when things got near them and that I shouldn’t mess with generations of evolution. In other words, the whole concept just seemed impractical.
But about a year ago at my last eye appointment, and I can’t really say why (and I know I wasn’t drunk because I was on my lunch break from work) I suddenly decided it was high time to give contact lenses a try. Even though I had finally made peace with glasses and even though I knew in some clear thinking part of me that it would be a bad idea.
So I asked my optometrist if I could try out contacts and he got me all set up with them. They helped me put the first pair in at my appointment so I could see how it was done and so I could wear them around the rest of the day and see if I liked them. I wore them for about 15 minutes and I was all “Holy cow this is awesome. I can see without glasses and without stink eye!” Then I was like “I’ll take 100 boxes please!” And the optometrist was like “OK. But they won’t be ready till next week, so you can use the pair you have until then.” Fortunately, I was wise enough to also get my regular old glasses updated with my new prescription because little did I know I was just about to invest a lot of money into the greatest evil ever unleashed on my eyeballs up to that point.
I spent the rest of my day happily walking about with my new contact lenses and only had the slightest amount of trouble taking them out that night. I was so excited I could hardly wait. I was going to wear the shit out of those contacts. It was going to be so exciting and it was going to change my life.
So, the next morning I got out of bed (sprang out, really, from the excitement.) I got to the bathroom and this is what happened:
Now, I’m not trying to imply that rape is funny. So, please don’t be offended if you think I’m being insensitive. I just really can’t think of any better way to describe what it felt like to my poor eyeballs to have me putting things in them against their will. It was a really unpleasant experience. But of course, at that point I was committed because I’d already ordered 100 boxes. So I continued violating my eye for another 15 minutes, swearing, crying, pleading, begging. Finally I gave up. I wore my glasses to work and I’m sure most of my coworkers assumed I was high or had spent all night crying. But I must have looked sufficiently pissed because at least no one asked me what was wrong.
Over the next few months I kept at it. Mostly because apparently when you get contacts for the first time the doctor wants to check on you a lot to make sure they work OK and that you don’t get botulism or something. So I HAD to keep trying because I had to show that I was capable of controlling my own body and worthy of the 100 boxes I had purchased. So, I think eventually my eyeballs just developed Stockholm Syndrome and just went along with it for their own survival. Doesn’t mean they were nice about it though.
To this very day I still only wear my contact lenses once in a while, like while snowboarding or when it’s really important that I look awesome or need to wear sunglasses. But beyond that, my voyage into contact lenses was mostly just a very, very, expensive mistake. One that will still be sitting in my bathroom cabinet long after my prescription has changed.