Four Eyes

I found out in Grade 7 that I needed glasses. Did I get glasses? No. I could still read the chalkboard from the back of the classroom, just as long as I squinted hard enough.

I didn’t want glasses. I didn’t know many people, if anyone, that only took out their glasses to see the chalkboard. People either had glasses, or they didn’t. I didn’t. And I didn’t want to cross over anytime soon.

In my head, I ran through how things would play out if the teacher put on the powerpoint slides, and I put on my glasses. I imagined that one person would notice, say something to the effect of, “You have glasses?” and slowly the entire class would turn around and say the same thing.

Twelve-year-old Paul did not want that. He just wanted to lay low and not bring too much attention to himself as he squinted his way through the day.

In Grade 8, my teacher gave us a pop quiz after we came in from recess one day. She didn’t hand us a test but instead, told us to take out a sheet a paper and write down the answers to the questions that were handwritten on a piece of chart paper, which hung at the front of the class.

You gotta be kidding me.

My desk was already at the front of the room, but I still couldn’t read her handwriting. I started feeling sick. Partially because I came in from recess sweating profusely. Partially because I was panicking. And partially because I needed an excuse to call home and get out of the situation.

I told the teacher I felt sick, called home, and got picked up. Crisis averted. Test averted.

In Grade 9 I became very good at copying my neighbour’s notes whenever we had to copy notes from the board or powerpoint slides.

I hated that teacher’s chose to teach that way. Couldn’t they just talk and we write down what they say?

I also hated when the teacher assigned our seats based on alphabetical order because chances were I was going to end up at the back. Did I speak up and say I couldn’t see? Absolutely not.

I was Squinty McSquinterson, but only when no one was watching.

At some point between Grade 10-12, I purchased a pair of glasses. Probably sooner than later. I had to. My annual trip to the eye doctor was getting harder and harder for me to fake my way through.

I remember one year I tried to memorize an eye chart that I searched for on Google, days before my eye appointment. It didn’t help at all once I got there.

The letters I could see on the eye chart were getting fewer and fewer each year.

So now that I had glasses in my possession, do you think I wore them at school? Nope.

Again, I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I didn’t want people to stare. I didn’t want to answer questions. I just wanted to squint and get out of there unscathed.

In Grade 12, I ended up in a really big classroom. The back row felt like it was in another school district. Where did I end up? The back row. And this was a random seating assignment too!

Some people asked the teacher if they could sit near the front because “they couldn’t see.” I didn’t believe their excuse. Some of them had glasses. Of course they could see. And the ones without glasses could also see, but their friends were seated at the front, so…you do the math.

I had a teacher who liked printing out his powerpoint slides and having us read from them.

This wasn’t a problem for me if I was ever called upon. I would just read the sheet in front of me, rather than look up at the screen.

Except he called on me to read the one day he didn’t provide printouts. I immediately said something like, “I can’t see it.” Then I thought he would move on to someone else. Nope!

He told me to go sit in the front row to read it.

I did the walk of shame to the front row, sat down, and still couldn’t read what was on the projection screen. The first row of desks was still about twenty feet away from it. Lucky me.

The jig was up. Everyone knew I couldn’t see. It was embarrassing. My teacher asked me if I needed glasses. I thought that was a dumb question and if this were an NFL game, he would’ve gotten a penalty for piling on.

I never wore my glasses in high school. I was too afraid of how I would look, or what people would say. I know, it sounds crazy. And looking back, I wish I would have just brought my glasses to school and wore them.

But at the time, that’s not the kind of person I was. So I didn’t do that.

Contact lenses were never an option for me. An alarm in my head goes off if my fingers get too close to my eyeballs.

When I got to university, I knew I would have to wear my glasses. The lecture halls were too big and there was too much money invested.

I was fine with it. It was a new school, in a town two hours away from high school. For all these people knew, I had been wearing glasses forever.

In my first Astronomy lecture of first year, I sat with the only other person from my high school who went to my university. He wore glasses. And I knew exactly what would happen when I took mine out.

I put my glasses on and two seconds later he said to me, “You wear glasses, Paul? I didn’t know that.”

BAM!

There it was. Exactly what I expected to hear had I got glasses in Grade 7. Exactly what I expected to hear had I worn them in high school.

And then a strange thing happened.

It didn’t matter.

It didn’t matter that I wore glasses. Many people wore glasses. Why should I have to squint my way through life just because I felt embarrassed or different.

Finally, a weight was off my shoulders eyelids. I could read the notes off the screen and write them down, rather than writing down bits and pieces of what the professor said.

As time went on, I even started wearing my glasses outside of the classroom. It made it a lot easier for me to spot friends in the hallway and give confident waves and head nods, rather than ones where I had no clue who I was greeting until they got closer.

Presently, I don’t wear glasses all time. I don’t need to. Honestly.

I wear glasses to drive, watch TV, watch sporting events in person, and when I play video games with my best friend Chris and lose. Thankfully, I don’t need them to read. Yet.

I’m not embarrassed, ashamed, or scared of wearing glasses anymore. I haven’t been for many years now. They’re just glasses. I wish I realized that when I was younger, but I didn’t.

I still hate going to the eye doctor, though. A couple of years ago they asked me to read the eye chart without my glasses, “just to see what I was capable of”, or something.

I thought they were doing it as a joke. They were serious.

I saw the big letter E, but it wasn’t clear. That’s all I was capable of. Even if I had my eyes closed, I would’ve said “E”.

Everyone knows it’s the first letter on the chart, especially me.

I had studied it before.

Do you have glasses? When did you get them? Did you ever feel embarrassed about wearing them?

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About Paul

This is the part where I'm supposed to write something interesting about myself and you'll read it and think, "That's not that interesting." So let's not do that and just think about pizza instead, on the count of three. One, two, three. Donuts. Now, wasn't that interesting?
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35 Responses to Four Eyes

  1. Jess says:

    What a wonderful post. I got glasses in the 9th grade when I also realized I couldn’t take notes during class. They were horrible looking glasses though. My mom picked them out. I mostly wore my contacts because I had dance classes and it’s a little difficult to twirl around with glasses on your face. I was never embarrassed by them because I thought they made me look smarter haha but I still get nervous going to the eye doctor when they keep sliding the eye chart and every time my answer is, “No…I can’t read it.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      Lol I can just picture you spinning in a circle and your glasses going flying and then you’re looking for them like Velma from Scooby Doo. It took me a couple of years to realize I didn’t have to guess at the letters on the eyes chart when I didn’t see them. All I had to say was “I can’t see it.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was the opposite. In primary school, one of my friends got glasses and I was so jealous; I thought they’d make me look cool. I forced my mum to take me to get my eyes tested, only to be told the dreaded news: “20/20 vision”.
    Karma came around and got me a few years later, when I had to start wearing glasses to see the board in class. Now I legally can’t drive without my glasses, and I don’t get out of bed without them on my face. Go figure!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      I knew people like you who also wanted glasses but had perfect vision. I never understood why they wanted them if they didn’t need them! They always felt like a hassle to me.
      Lol it’s a tough day when you realize you can’t see as well as you used to, isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Val says:

    (I just tried to post this comment and your post vanished. Weird!) Anyway…
    Glad you learnt to cope with this, Paul. I think a lot of kids are embarrassed when they first have to start wearing glasses, I was too. I think I was about 11 or 12 and I had a similar experience of having to sit at the front of the class to be able to see the board. But the time when it made me even more embarrassed was when I was in my teens and early twenties and I used to go to rock gigs without wearing them – having first completely memorized the train and platform I needed to get and then when I got to the venue, standing or sitting throughout each gig barely being able to see a thing!
    Now – well, now I’m getting cataracts (it’s an age thing) so eventually even glasses won’t work. Oh and I do need reading glasses but hey – by the time you get those, you’re past caring anyway! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      Oh wow I can definitely relate to this. There were times where I memorized where things were ahead of time because I knew I wouldn’t be able to locate them later without glasses on. It sounds so strange writing it out, but it was reality.
      My grandfather has cataract surgery a few years ago. He was in denial for so long, but after he had the surgery he was so happy and bragging about his eagle eyes lol

      Liked by 1 person

      • Val says:

        Successful cataract ops restore sight to how it was – and often much better. One of the things cataracts do is distort colour – so blues and purples eventually look grey or black – and normally warmer colours take on a yellow hue. That is eradicated with surgery. But unfortunately not all ops are successful and I know a few people for whom it’s made their sight worse, so I am leaving it for as long as I can. At present I can still ee but things are a touch blurry.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        Fair enough, I know I’d be terrified of any surgery involving my eyes. Just so risky and frightening.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Barb Knowles says:

    I was taking Driver’s Ed lessons when I was 16. I pulled over to the side of the road to avoid the dead animal in the road. The dead animal turned out to be a cardboard box. So then I got glasses, lol.
    I also abhor anything near my eyes. But I’m having cataract surgery in January and getting lenses that will replace my glasses. Hopefully I won’t be able to see what they’re doing to my eyes. Bleeeeech. Now I can spend time looking for perfect sunglasses. 🙈
    I was excited to show off my glasses at high school. It’s funny how teens respond to possibly embarrassing situations differently. I hadn’t noticed a problem with schoolwork. But what a difference the glasses made. I’m glad you aren’t stubborn anymore.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      Haha I’m glad I’m not stubborn anymore too. I always wonder what my grades would’ve been like had I worn glasses. I had an 88% overall average in Grade 12. I wonder which way it would’ve went had I worn glasses. I think I paid attention more without glasses because I had to listen to everything that was on the board and then write it down (in some cases).
      My grandfather had cataract surgery and loves his “new” eyes.
      And it’s always good to not kill cardboard. It has a family.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Barb Knowles says:

    Omg it took forever to leave that comment. The page kept going blank and I got the error message to reload. Like 5 times. I see Val commented above that the same thing happened to her. Elves in the WordPress gears?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This reminds me of getting my pair of glasses when I was actually working. I endured life without glasses until college. When my eyes were tested on the machine, the optometrist was shocked to knew that it was my first glasses. Having astigmatism of 200 – 175 was really rare. I didn’t know how I lived my life back then knowing that I was such a gamer back in high school and college.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. peckapalooza says:

    When I was a kid, I desperately wanted glasses. Because Clark Kent. And I was so jealous of my sister when she got glasses in 5th grade. I didn’t actually reach the point of needing glasses until just a few years ago. I don’t have a strong prescription, and people who ask to try on my glasses tend to make fun of me because they don’t think the lenses can make any difference. But I’m here to tell you, when I’m not wearing them, I definitely tell a difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      “Because Clark Kent” hahah. I always hate when people ask to try on my glasses or sunglasses. I feel like they’re going to stretch them out or something. Some think my prescription is nothing and others think I’m blind, so….

      Like

  8. You know Paul, I do have glasses. My kitchen cabinets are full of em! Of course, I never really thought about putting them on my face before. I wonder how one would do that, hold it up to their eyes? Must be awkward? But, I can see why you wouldn’t wanna wear them in a classroom. Can’t blame you really, especially when so many other people try to use them for their drinks. What fools! Nevertheless, I can understand why they might feel it would help them see better. Ever look through the bottom of one of those things? Why it’s just like looking through the bottom of a Coke bottle…so thick! Well leave it to you to come up with something amazing. Next thing you know, you’ll be telling me that you’ve found a way to fit the bottom of those bottles into some frames that can then sit on your nose. Hey… now there’s an idea! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ariel Lynn says:

    I completely understand your not wanting to wear glasses in Grade 7. Kids that age are a**holes. In fact, people in general are a**holes, but things that make you different from your peers are less important as we age (I hope).

    I had to get glasses recently when it got hard to read road signs & see movie screens. My eye doctor said something really weird to me (he claimed my eyes would get better as I got older? WTH, dude?). I insisted on getting glasses, though.

    I’m not embarrassed to wear them, but I’m old, so I don’t care. The only part I don’t like is the only styles available to women have freakin’ sparkles & stuff to make them obviously “for girls.” 🙄

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I know some people who’s eyes have gotten better as they got older! I guess it’s just the way our eye develops over time. It makes no sense but it happens.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ariel Lynn says:

        Wow, really?! Huh… I thought my eye doctor was jerking my chain! I guess I owe him an apology for all those thoughts I had about him & never ever shared. LOL

        Still, since my parents’ & my sister’s eyesight has gotten worse with age, I kinda think it’s less likely mine won’t. Also, I haven’t been doing what he told me to do to improve my “far away” vision. LOL

        Like

  10. Myka says:

    “and when I play video games with my best friend Chris and lose.” Ha ha ha. I giggled aloud.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. LosiLosLoco says:

    Hmm. Strangely enough, I feel that maybe I’ll feel this way too when I have to get glasses myself. I’m lucky enough to not need them right now in my life, but, that doesn’t mean I won’t need them later. *sigh* But I give a good pat on the back to university Paul, because he got over that fear. 🙂 I’m still laughing about “E” because it’s true. Everyone knows the first letter… XD

    Liked by 1 person

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