Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ugly glasses

Published March 1, 2009
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

There are times in my life when I feel like history is repeating itself, and that history is the kind that makes my heart jump into my throat and pound away any chance for breath. It’s a terrifying feeling. Psychology types call this a parataxic distortion. I call it really, really annoying.

Today’s little bit of history involves glasses…ugly glasses, to be exact. Two of my children picked out new glasses yesterday, and I, stuck at work, was not able to guide them in choosing glasses that wouldn’t cause them to want to burn every picture ever taken of them. My husband tells me the kids chose the glasses they liked, but I know from painful experience that people who need glasses often can’t see well enough to choose nice-looking glasses. The glasses they chose won’t be here for a few days, and in the meantime, I’m struggling for breath with each strangling beat of my parataxically distorted heart.

If you’ve never had ugly glasses, you won’t understand. I’ll try to help you. Having ugly glasses is like walking around with a big, fat, hairy wart on the end of your nose…that blinks like a neon sign…and sings “Nobaaaaaahdy knows the trouble I’ve seen” in a highly inappropriate falsetto. You walk through your junior high, your depressed footfalls beating a sad little cadence of, “My glasses are ugly…my glasses are ugly…my glasses are ugly…”

I once had glasses so ugly that I secretly looked for ways to break them so I could get new ones. I didn’t do anything on purpose. I just looked for opportunities that might lead to a happy accident. I found that accident in a fortunate game of tackle football with my good buddy, Jeff Tarman. Without meaning any harm, but much to my glee, Jeff turned his shoulder down when he charged into me and that bony shoulder snapped the frame over my right lens and sent that lens rolling merrily down his driveway.

Poor Jeff, not knowing my secret desires, was mortified and chased the lens down with a look of devastation on his face. I, on the other hand, jumped up and down, danced a strange little jig, and professed my undying love for him for saving me from my most tragic eyewear. I skipped home with my friend Krystal and babbled excitedly about the non-ugly glasses I would soon be wearing.

I didn’t account for superglue.

At my frugal parents’ insistence, I wore those ugly, broken glasses for at least six more months, reapplying the glue whenever I realized it was no longer holding my frame together. These realizations occurred on several embarrassing occasions when my right lens dislodged itself without warning from my frames and rolled across the floor in front of me (and anyone else nearby). This happened at home, at school, at church, and most notably at a choir concert in a mall.

Those of you who spent years in glasses that covered half your face or glasses in wildly inappropriate colors or glasses whose frames were manufactured upside down for no conceivable reason know my pain. You’re all breathing past your hearts in anticipation of the moment my kids come bounding in the door with their new specs. The best I can tell you is that I have vowed that if my kids, suddenly able to see the glasses they chose, look in the mirror and realized they’ve made a terrible, awful, heinous mistake, it won’t take a bone crushing game of tackle football to get them replaced. Someone out in reader land is shaking his head and saying that allowing my kids to walk around in ugly glasses will surely build character.

We’ll send the uglies to him.