Journal entry: February 12, 2007 (age 37)
Eyes are the windows to the soul. Therefore, eyeglasses are the outside pane of double-paned windows to the soul. I could expound further on this analogy, but tears really aren’t the inter-pane condensation of the soul. What I am trying to say is that for 34 years, my glasses have sent a message to the world about who I am.
I was fitted with my first pair of glasses at the age of three. They adorned my tiny, moonlike face like a cigar and a propeller beanie on a chimp – they looked out of place, but they were so cute! My early childhood marked the only time in my life that glasses actually improved my looks. I did little comedy and dance routines in grocery stores and doctor’s offices, to the great pleasure of the women present, who would clap their hands together and coo, “Oh, he’s just darling – like a miniature Woody Allen!” Even at that age, I knew that this comparison did not reflect well on my dancing ability. But I didn’t care as long as those ladies, who I dug, were digging on me.
Then came my “awkward phase.” To this day, the scientific literature confirms that mine was the longest awkward phase on record, with the exception of a morbidly docile Neanderthal named Nanook, who spent his entire adolescence letting a rabid badger chew on his face. My pale skin bordered on the fluorescent, providing a high-contrast backdrop for the colorful bursts of acne. I had red hair that was neither straight nor curly, leaving it in a constant state of amorphous, “Flock of Cardinals” chaos. My mouth was a graveyard of enamel slabs being dragged around by a brutal combination of barbed wire and rubber bands. My body type could be summed up in a single word: concave. The overall look didn’t just suggest the addition of bulky plastic eyewear, it demanded it. I wondered at the time if the optician would give my parents a discount if they also bought me a pocket protector and a sign that said “KICK ME.”
In my late teens, the braces came off, the acne calmed down, and my body began to fill out a bit. Most importantly, I got rid of the glasses, in favor of contacts. (Now the windows to my soul were prescription-strength and streak-free!) The changes gave me a new confidence, and even the chance to go on a few dates. But by the time I reached my mid-20s, I tired of the daily cleaning regimen for contacts, and went back to wearing glasses. As I continued to grow into my looks, I settled into a more forgiving self-image: that of a likable-looking, college-professor-type.
But now, in my late 30s, the “filling out” has started falling out of my clothes, and the hair I had always cursed is leaving me like a spurned lover. Shedding the glasses again feels like the only way I can slow the slide into a new, unending awkward phase. Why else would I be considering letting someone shoot lasers into my eyes?