Oh God, I thought, sitting on eye doctor’s the rolling chair, I’m more blind than I thought.
The soft voiced assistant, a portly older man, had given me one task: Stare at the green light with my right eye. But I couldn’t even find it, so I moved my head around the apparatus, my chin stuck in the main strap.
“I saw it.” I homed in on the green circle like a heat seeking missile.
“Now try to keep you eyes open,” he instructed. With a loud poof, something hit my eyeball and I nearly fell out of the rolling chair. “Just a little air,” he said in that kind voice. “Let’s try again.”
So I stared at the green light as intensely as Gatsby this time.
“Sorry,” I said. “This is actually my first eye exam. Ever.” He didn’t seem amused, especially when my left eye took five attempts.
I didn’t know what this machine did, but all that compressed air would’ve been better used inflating car tires or powering pneumatic tools. It was all new, even the previous machine with its hot air balloon image flashing in and out of focus. There was a third machine that I stared at apprehensively until he said they’d spare me the torture.
I knew glasses were inevitable once I had trouble seeing things far away, but I didn’t know how bad it was until I got a pair. (Pardon the expression.) When I posted that I was maybe getting glasses on Facebook, my oldest sister who’s had glasses ever since I can remember commented: Another one bites the dust. True, most of my family members are nearsighted, but I thought I was the exception.
A few days after the air gun blasted my retinas, I picked up my new specs. Round frames seemed cool to me, but I didn’t think I could pull them off. I didn’t want to be some pseudo intellectual.
Luckily, Stephanie was there while I chose between the ones I eventually bought and a plainer black frame. “Your taste is a little unconventional,” she said. “You’ve got your own flair.”
Whether that’s always a good thing I’ll have to ask.
Though uncertain, the glasses fit spectacularly. Like a new pair of jeans after your others mysteriously shrank. Plus, they’re writerly, the kind of rims you imagine on someone whose nose is in a book, fingers on a typewriter. I am a reader and writer; but I don’t need or use them when I’m reading or writing. Tried once, but my eyes felt strained.
My mom even said they made me look like a writer—after she called me a nerd. One friend said I look like a terrorist. Another said I look like my younger brother. A coworker said I look professorial, so I raised my arm to reveal my elbow patches. The uniform of any card-carrying academic.
Still, though, I’m not sure how I look. I feel like a charlatan, not quite sure where I fit in this visually flawed subculture.
No matter what type of person glasses make you look like, they do make you look smarter. And they’re different, definitely different from the thing that was the same, which happened to be not having glasses as opposed to…
Oh God, I now think, I am becoming a pseudo intellectual.