“Men do not make passes
at girls who wear glasses!”
Girls – the very word now sounds sexist – don’t have to wear glasses if they don’t want to. They can simply wear contacts. Or revert to glasslessness thanks to the affordable miracle of laser eye surgery. More interesting, though, is that female celebrities, actors and models, are increasingly appearing in public with colorful spectacles. Far from appearing dismal, male-daunting apparitions, they look downright human and attractive. Jennifer Aniston to Jennifer Lopez, Zoe Saldana to Anne Hathaway, all are turning heads with their fetching, bespectacled look.
I was ten when I wore my first pair. The blackboard in school was blurring for months, but I resisted turning a ‘four-eyed’ geek. It would be a catastrophe on the playground, I thought. I could no longer be a wicket keeper in cricket; nor could I play the kind of rough hockey and football I played with my friends. I also remembered Oliver Wendell Holmes’s sardonic comment that revolutions are not made by people who wear glasses (only much later did I visit Leon Trotsky’s home in Mexico and began to compute in the age of Bill Gates, and knew that people who don’t see well can still see their way to a revolution).
Finally, father dragged me to an eye doctor, an old, grandfatherly neighborhood guy, who checked my distance vision with some stained cardboard charts and wrote out a prescription. Only a week later, I had my shiny new glasses in a coffee-colored shell frame.
But nothing was more amazing than what I saw in the mirror. I barely recognized the bespectacled person I saw. My friends in the school the next morning had strong opinions: some thought I looked nerd-like, some said I looked older, while others felt the glasses added some gravitas to my lanky frame. Clearly, nobody thought that I looked the same.
For decades I wore my glasses, though the lens changed. Through college and university, I was the guy with glasses. When I took a job and started travelling, not only the lens changed, I was induced to move to fancier frames. Metal frames when they were in hip, rimless glasses when they seemed swankier. As I started travelling overseas, I carried duplicate glasses in case I lost my glasses or broke them, as I did periodically. Glasses were my ever-present companion. So much so that I occasionally walked into a shower or went to bed with the glasses on.
Friends do a double take. Acquaintances can barely recognize me on the street. My brothers, who both wear glasses now, think I look strange. But I walk, jog, read, drive and watch a movie without glasses. But, from habit rather than necessity, I still often carry a pair of glasses, the way some mothers carry a pacifier for their baby.
A wiseacre friend made the wisecrack that I had lost my specs appeal, but I no longer wanted to make a spectacle of myself.