Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I Am Not My Glasses

“I love my glasses ,” I said, almost with defiance, to the salesperson at LensCrafters. “So I want a pair basically just like these.”

Up until that very moment, I didn't know such heartfelt feelings existed for my rectangular, semi-rimless, coppery brown-framed, no-name spectacles. In fact, the strength of the proclamation caught me off guard with its undertone of Mama Grizzly protectiveness.

I've needed assistance seeing distance since I was a teenager. During those days, I mainly wore contacts, all the way through college. I didn't hate my glasses at the time—brown oval-shaped frames with light brown tint--but I rarely wore them out on the town or out of town. When I wanted to look my prettiest or sexiest, eyewear just wasn’t part of the package. So I delegated them to early classes, Wal-mart, hanging out at the house, and job interviews.

But in recent years, I've worn glasses 90 percent of the time. I got a pair that I really liked (the pair whose honor I defended to the LensCrafters salesperson) and I even wore them when painting the town. On any given night, you can count the number of glasses-donning women at the party or the club on one hand, which I dig for the sheer non-conformist aspect of it. I also have a theory that guys find a woman more approachable in her glasses. Maybe showcasing a “visual” flaw adds an air of humility.

The current eyewear upgrade is thanks to a snapped temple (the actual name for the piece that goes behind your ear) that I MacGyver’ed with clear tape. I've scoured three different shops, peering at my reflection in various modes of lighting, in search of the perfect optical complement to my persona. While I dig some of the funky pairs—green temples, sparkly rim—the ideal pair needs to give me enough flexibility to dictate the mood. And since these will be my primary specs, cat-eyed librarian will not do on a daily basis.

I finally decide on a pair that fit the bill—a slick, yet conservative Versace frame with amber temples that will house anti-reflection coating and Transitions lenses. In other words...the most souped-up accoutrement to ever grace my face.

This process has revealed a couple things to me. For one, I apparently like wearing glasses. Not sure when this happened. And it's something I've rarely heard anyone admit. After all, people wear glasses to fix a problem. You wear them because you have to, not because you want to. However in the last decade or so, glasses, particularly thick-framed ones, have become fashionable.

On the other hand, as much as I apparently like glasses, I don't consider them a part of my identity, even though glasses morph into the identities of others. See, there are some people I describe by their specs: Oh you're looking for Bill? Gates? Hang a left, he'll be the short guy in the break room eating Fig Newtons. Wears glasses.

But if I overheard, “Oh you're looking for Faith? Hang a left, she'll be the chick in the break room asking Bill Gates for $20. Wears glasses.” I'd be surprised to hear myself described as someone that wears glasses.

I suppose years of Saturday morning programming, after school specials, and feature films have done a number on my subconscious. Characters that are shy, reserved, overtly nerdy, or astute wear glasses. So in real life, I'm discovering, I only describe a person as a glasses wearer if he or she embodies those characteristics. Otherwise, they may wear glasses, but they don't “wear glasses.” Like me.