Monday, November 19, 2007


"When one stops to consider what life would be like without the ability to read after age forty or thereabouts, and the consequences for the life of the mind in general, eyeglasses suddenly appear as important as the wheel." --Barbara Tuchman

I was in the seventh grade when I got my first pair of glasses. Even though the frames looked like those worn by the fat lady in Gary Larson's cartoons, I loved them. That first pair of glasses endowed me with the high-definition eyesight of Tolkien's elves: a crispness, a clarity, a capacity to distinguish detail that I hadn't even known I lacked. And every year the miracle was repeated when the optician dispensed a new pair with a stronger perscription.

Though The Wisdom Of The Age affirmed that "Men never make passes at girls who wear glasses," and also considered "Four-Eyes" a perjorative, I loved my glasses because I thought they were waaaay cool. I considered them my badge of intelligence, a symbol of my love for books, and my pass into a fraternity of the mind. (Or perhaps I had already discovered the proverbial wisdom, "if you like what you have, you'll have what you like.)

Now that I've added presbyopia to my nearsightedness and astigmatism, and have discovered an inability to wear bifocals, glasses seem more like a sad neccessity than a badge of honor because I have to juggle multiple pairs of them. I have one pair of glasses for driving, another for reading, a third for ordinary tasks around the house, and one with a very short focal length for sewing. Yet it seems that I'm always moving into little pockets of poor vision where something is too small or too close or too far away for me to bring it clearly into focus. O, for the days when a single pair of glasses could do it all. Scotty, beam me a prescription for Retinax V!


Jocelyne said...

Oh yes, I remember getting my first pair of glasses at age 12 or so. Everything was so beautiful and bright!

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

A friend once told me that until she got her first pair of glasses, she had never seen the tops of trees.

Anonymous said...

Why not laser surgery? Then you only need glasses for reading.

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

Uh, because I'm too chicken.