Right away I knew I’d committed a tactical error. I didn’t know exactly what was going on, but saw how my parents reacted, and the look of concern they exchanged.
“You think those are birds?” my mother asked.
“No, they’re rocks. I think you might need glasses.”
What?! I was thrown into an instant state of panic. Glasses?? The thought of it chilled me to my skeleton. I couldn’t wear glasses to that jackal’s nest known as Dunbar Elementary. I’d be mocked and ridiculed, unmercifully. The mere thought of such a thing nearly caused me to spoil my Towncrafts. There was simply no way; it was outside the realm of possibilities. I’d be eaten alive.
And what the hell was wrong with me, anyway? Commenting on birds?? Who am I, Marlin Perkins? They’re everywhere. Was it really necessary to shout with excitement, because I thought I saw a few more? Am I special needs, and never realized it? “Pretty birdies! Pretty birdies!!”
In short order I was inside Dr. Stewart’s office, having an eye exam. And he gave me the bad news: I needed to start clamping corrective apparatus to my head. My mother looked at me with sympathy, but went ahead and ordered the glasses that would ruin my life, anyway. And I was plunged into darkness. Only two weeks to live… When those horrible things came back from the lab, my life was over.
They were wire-rimmed, and shockingly big. This was the 1970s, remember, when there was no such thing as subtlety.
But when Doc Stewart had me put them on in the office, I couldn’t believe how clear everything looked. I had no idea… The whole world was in sharp focus, and seemed to be brighter. It was amazing.
When I got home, and looked at myself in the mirror though, deep depression took hold. I looked like a goddamn freak. Inside my head I could already hear the cruel laughter. Hell, they might get whipped into a frenzy and stone me to death.
My mother told me I needed to start wearing my new glasses the next day at school. She told me people would probably comment on them for a couple of hours, and it would be over forever. It was no big deal, she assured me. But I knew the truth.
So, I didn’t wear them. I took them to school, but never put them on. I didn’t have the courage.
And somewhere along the line my mother figured it out. I don’t know how, but she knew I was lying about it. She assured me I’d be punished if I didn’t start wearing my glasses immediately. It’s a wonder I didn’t worry myself gray over that crap. It was death row-caliber stress.
And the next day I held a book in front of my face, slipped the glasses on for a split-second, and quickly returned them to their case. Nobody noticed, and I was able to tell my mom — without lying — that I’d worn my glasses at school. She bought it, and I repeated this ritual daily.
Then baseball season rolled around… My parents wanted me to wear my glasses while playing, but I wouldn’t do it. They didn’t understand, since everyone was surely used to them by now. What was the big deal?
Of course months had passed, and not a single person outside our house had actually seen me wearing those stupid-looking WWII Japanese soldier specs. I was in a bind.
There was yelling, and probably some crying, but I wouldn’t budge. There was no way I was wearing glasses while playing baseball. I was told I’d either wear them, or quit the team. I said fine, I’d turn in my uniform, and my mother flew off the handle. She’d had enough, and I was officially out of options.
Usually I rode my bike to practice, but she accompanied me on this day. And she sat there watching… enforcing. I had no choice but to take the field in my ridiculous Elton Johns. It felt like I was walking onstage at Carnegie Hall, under a bright spotlight, in front of an audience coiled and ready to mock. I was sincerely concerned I might pass out.
And nobody gave a shit. The end.
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