Friday, June 10, 2011

The moment my life changed

I didn't know I couldn't see, but my fourth grade teacher noticed me pulling frantically on the corner of my eyes, squinting to try to see the board.  She told my mom who took me to see Dr. Taylor.  The first test I knew I flunked - he told me to stand with my feet behind the line on the floor and read the letters on the fourth line of the chart ten feet away from me.  I was aware there were grey filmy shapes on the wall, but couldn't begin to decode them into letters.  Then I had to sit in a huge dentist's chair with a looming black machine pressed up to my face.  The doctor turned a bunch of dials and told me to tell him which was better, 1 or 2?  2 or 3?  1 or 3?  I squirmed in my chair, knowing this couldn't be good. 

Dr. Taylor talked to my mother in the waiting room and told her I needed glasses.  I felt the floor fall out from under me.  I knew I would be consigned to the nerd group from here on out.  I asked him if I had to wear them all the time?  Well, ideally, but maybe I could just put them on when I needed to read the board.

We went home where Mom told Dad.  He excitedly went down to the basement and brought up several boxes full of displays of eyeglasses, things he'd saved since his second stepfather ran out on his mother and left them behind.  Now they would be useful and he could save some real money.  These things were worth a mint.  They were antiques!  Unsure he was right, I nevertheless had no choice, so picked out a pair of gold granny glasses, perfect actually for the nascient hippie movement of 1968.

A week later my mother took me to Sears.  Oh God.  Oh no.  The end of my cildhood as I knew it.  I just knew it would be awful.  I dragged my feet as Mom strode purposefully towards the optical department under the down escalator.

I saw some colorful blobs on a circular rack and went over to investigate, feigning interest in women's oversized bathing suits since that was where I'd landed.

Mom paid the clerk for the glasses and brought them over to me.  She encouraged me to put them on.  I balked.  She insisted.  Firmly. That voice meant I had no choice.  I slowly put them on, yuck.  The world suddenly became crystal clear.  Color abounded.  There were words above the stairs and I could read them.  I'd been right - my world would never be the same again.

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