Sometimes I would forget to bring my reading glasses to the grocery store, so I would snatch an appropriate pair off of the display and wander around wearing them with the price tag dangling on my nose— like a modern-day Minnie Pearl. On more than one occasion, when I noticed that I was being stared at by a little child, I would explain that I was just “trying” them. (Yeah, and The Grinch was just fixing a bulb on the tree, Cindy Lou!) I refrained from “explaining” myself to adults as they, I’m sure, knew what I was about.
The whole problem with the need for reading glasses is that I already wear corrective lenses for distance. So, I improvised. I had several strengths of drug store and supermarket (and, truth be told, dollar store) pairs— which I paid for— scattered around the house and in my work apron because if I was wearing my regular glasses I would need the stronger magnifiers. I would stick a pair of reading glasses on while still wearing my distance lenses. Problem solved. I’m sure I looked ridiculous, but this method kept me from ordering trout when what the customer really wanted was, say, ribs.
Keeping track of all of these glasses would be a trial for any normal, organized person. I, as many of you who are familiar with my (mis)adventures surely know, am neither normal nor organized. Also, my family was beginning to be embarrassed by my behavior. On the up side, my husband was spending more time at the grocery store. On the down side, he could be heard muttering things like, “We’re not paupers. Get bifocals.” on, pretty much, a daily basis. Every time I was leaving for work, he would watch me check for my glasses and shake his head (not in a good way) while pointing out that I was wearing $150 shoes (I’m a Dansko girl!) and dollar store cheaters. Finally, he presented me with the balance on our Flexible Spending Account and insisted that I make an appointment with an eye care professional before the year was out.
Cursing my short-armedness and my family’s complete and utter lack of appreciation for my pioneer spirit, I went kicking and screaming (not literally— that would have been silly!) to the ophthalmologist, where I was thoroughly examined and promptly advised that the time had come for me to join the majority of my middle-aged cohorts in the wearing of progressive lenses. I chose a pair of sporty Coach frames in an olive green, which, I must tell you are quite fetching. My daughter, who is 16 and not in the habit of even noticing, let alone complimenting, anything I do, say, or wear, actually told me that I look “mad cool”. Talk about your Christmas miracles!
I was excited about the prospect of seeing clearly, about looking like an ordinary middle-class person (although most middle-class people are not “mad cool”), and about no longer having to listen to my husband harangue me in exasperation. That is, until I really started wearing them. The phrase that comes to mind is: “What a ball rash!” Everyone from the optician to my darling husband told me that they would take some getting used to. That, my friends, is an understatement.
The very first thing I proceeded to do while wearing my new specs was to fall off of the curb and plunge into the street in front of a surprised, but very alert (Thank God!), driver of a small truck. The size of the truck probably wouldn’t have mattered had it run me over at anything resembling “full-speed”. Five seconds later, still shaking from my brush with death, I managed to knock over a sandwich board outside of the flower shop, which wouldn’t have been all bad if it hadn’t been adorned with about three dozen very breakable ornaments. The owner, who was very nice, but might not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier, assured me that it was “no big deal” and that “it happens all the time”. I was so happy to get out of there that I didn’t bother to ask him why, if it happens all the time, does he continue to use breakable Christmas bulbs on a street with fairly heavy pedestrian traffic? Perhaps he was just being nice to the obviously distraught, dizzy (did I mention the dizziness my new eyewear was causing?) woman wreaking havoc in front of his place of business. I offered to help him sweep up the mess, but he declined. He may have been afraid of arming me with a broom so close to his glass storefront windows. I can’t say that I blame him.
Of course all of this occurred while my husband was circling the block in a futile attempt to find a parking spot. He and my daughter, who was also in the car, somehow managed to miss the incident with the truck, but witnessed the ornament carnage. I sensed, rather than saw, my husband’s eye rolling and head shaking. When I got in the car all I could hear from the back seat, where my daughter was sitting, was high-pitched laughter. I guess it’s not every day that you get to see your wife/mother make a complete jackass out of herself on the sidewalk. These opportunities, at least since I gave up drinking, are few and far between. They made the best of this one. I may never live it down.
I am determined to become comfortable in my “mad cool” glasses. As a precaution I’ve put away the breakables!