Ah, the indignities of aging. A long-overdue trip to the eye doctor this week brought them into focus.
I have officially become a two-pair-of-glasses lady. The ones currently affixed to my head are essentially a pair of training readers. I must get new ones so I can actually read street signs and other things far away.
Ladies reading this will undoubtedly remember the joy and anticipation that accompanied buying a training bra. Be assured that getting training readers is not enveloped in the same excitement.
The prescription hasn’t yet progressed to the point where I need progressive lenses (the new, politically correct term for bifocals), so I will become one of those people who can’t find the right pair of glasses when I need them. Perhaps my purse just once and for all should become a piece of luggage.
To be sure, wearing glasses is not a new experience for me. I’ve had them since the really fashionable octagonal tortoise-shell numbers I chose back in third grade after Mom finally caught on to my plight.
Until then, I think she thought I was being fresh in church when I said I couldn’t read the number of the next posted hymn. I distinctly remember her aha moment, however: She stopped the car one afternoon while we were out and asked me to read the license plate of a car in front of us. Of course — like today — I couldn’t! (And I can’t blame those first frames on her, either; I chose them and what a look they completed with my pixie hairstyle and big-collared 1970s blouses.)
In high school I begged and begged for contact lenses and finally got a pair. Back then, disinfecting contacts was quite a process. You doused each one in cleaning solution, rubbed it in the palm of your hand, then sent them swimming a special solution. The case got popped into a little heater that plugged into the wall overnight. They were clean by morning — but God help you if you forgot to rinse them thoroughly before putting them in. The cleaning solution was not cornea-friendly, and I spent many mornings frantically trying to get one of the burning, stinging things unstuck from an eyeball.The things we do in the name of beauty!
I was discussing how lenses have changed with the optician, a young doctor who is fabulous about explaining everything you always wanted to know about your eyes but were afraid to ask. (Due to my on-the-fence prescription, I’m not a candidate for contacts right now.) The doctor is friendly and chatty, but I have to say our discussion took a hard left when I mentioned “cooking” my old lenses and she said she’d never seen that equipment but had “read about it in a textbook.”
I knew I was in trouble when the songs of my youth began to show up in today’s equivalent of K-Tel records, but honestly, I can’t possibly be so old that my high school gear is textbook fodder.
Nevertheless, I pasted a smile on my face, took the prescription for distance glasses, focused my dilated eyes as best as I could on the checkbook, then headed to the racks and racks of frames. For the record, it’s not advisable to bother with this task right after the dilation.
I knew I was a pretty sight pressed up against the mirror trying on frame after frame, but I had no idea just HOW pretty. Fortunately, a tiny Chinese lady explained it for me.
An older woman, she seemed to be there to socialize. She nattered on and on about her past vision experiences with the clerk before setting her sights on me. The young lady working the counter was not being terribly helpful and by now I figured I needed Catherine’s input and my actual eyesight to make a choice. As I started to collect my things to go, the older lady began to offer her advice. It seems the frames I was looking at were not right.
“It’s not that you have a bad face,” she started. …
I really can’t tell you what she said next. It included a left-handed apology and some commentary on my petite frame and chin.
Mind you, I long ago made peace with my plain-Jane looks. I know I will never turn heads, but this unsolicited appraisal was more than I needed to hear.
There was nothing left to do but drag my old, ugly self out to the car and slowly make my way home.