I Can See Clearly Now


August 6, 2011

I love my glasses.  And Dorothy Parker’s warning notwithstanding, I refuse to get that surgery that would make my glasses obsolete, because I’ve always felt my glasses define me.  Yes, I know we live in an optical mecca as I was reminded by Monica Flaum, fashion stylist, who urged me to learn to wear contact lenses the last time I bought new glasses.  But I argued to her that each time I get a new pair it is like I’m getting a new persona. My most recent pair of glasses are black, slightly cat-like and definitely inspired by Tina Fey.  This could be because I walked into the glasses store and said, “I want to look like Tina Fey.” My last pair I said, I want to look like a sexy-librarian, and somehow, they knew exactly what I meant.  

My glasses fetish began when I started wearing glasses in the second grade.  Everyone in my family wears glasses. My Dad even traded services with an optometrist on Staten Island for glasses for the entire family.  My Dad was an Ob/Gyn and once the optometrists’ three kids were born, I think my Dad got the better end of the deal.  

We used to go to his office and manically try on glasses.  Then we whittled our choices from 100 to just lots. Eventually we had to choose, but the Dr. was apparently so grateful for his three children I’d often walk out with two or three pairs to match different outfits.  I had so many different glasses, that at one point I even had glasses by famed pop art designer Peter Max – red, white and blue. Now they would be a collector’s item, then they were just ugly.

Then I grew up and had to pay for glasses for myself.  I’ll never forget my sticker shock when I got married and moved to D.C. and had to buy my own glasses.  The guy who owned my glasses place, however, loved me. But since I couldn’t deliver his babies I had to pay, cold hard cash. When we moved from D.C. to Rochester, he cried a little, and then he thanked me for his pool. 

When we left almost 10 years ago I got my last pair of glasses from him. They are called 2.5’s, named because they weigh only 2.5 grams. So, I’m sitting in Starbucks in Rochester, and this guy (with really cool glasses) comes over to me and says accusingly, “Where did you get these glasses?” I stuttered, “D.C.” He explained that at the time he was the exclusive dealer of the glasses and he knew everyone who’d purchased a pair so he was surprised he didn’t know me.  I thought it was a great pick-up line and ended up using him as my new “dealer” – I mean, Doctor. He had me at “2.5.” 

Just the other day I was in the same Starbucks and another cool looking guy in glasses was looking at me funny.  I smiled knowingly, perhaps he knew me from the newspaper or the magazine. Nope, he liked my glasses. Of course he was a regional sales manager for a large glasses company, the very one that made my glasses. I told him I’m his best customer.  He just smiled (probably because he is grateful for his pool).  

Now that I’m older my fetish has been tempered.  Of course, this is because my eyes are so bad now I have to have complicated tri-focal, progressive, astigmatic (very expensive) lenses.  My husband says my glasses cost almost as much as a couch. So it has become a choice, send my kids to college or continue to feed my glasses fetish.  I don’t know, they’re pretty smart now, who needs college? But I know that when I’m ready for a new persona, instead of coloring my hair or buying a new dress, I’ll be sneaking into the eyeglass store ready to change my outlook with my glasses.  

As first published in the Democrat + Chronicle and on the USA Today Network