July 28, 2010

Hobgoblins of the Optics

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have my peripheral vision back.

Due to some medical issues that I won’t discuss at any great length on the internet, I had been barred from my contacts for nearly two months. 

It seems like a small thing.  Wear your glasses, all will be fine.  Besides the obvious lifestyle tweaks that had to occur (lack of peripheral vision, having to remember to remove them before showering, etc.) there was something else that nagged at the back of my mind as I donned the rims every morning.

I haven’t worn glasses full time since middle school.  Middle school, those years before children knew how to behave like people and not feral beasts.  Middle school, when the social pecking order was still being established and so the ones on the bottom got pecked until they bled.  Middle school, all the hormones and no slip of the maturity.  I did not have a good time in middle school.

It was hardly the best of times and it may have very well been the worst of times.  A time before I had grown into any notion of self-confidence and was awkwardly bumbling my way around trying to find my place amongst the nerds and geeks knowing that someday I could proudly wear their banner and decree at the lop of my lungs, “Lo, I too am a dork!  So take that world, I don’t care what you think!”

Putting those glasses on again was an admission that that person was still part of me.  I don’t want to get into a deep psychoanalysis of loving every bit of yourself at the moment, suffice to say it was a little scary to face my inner childhood demons.

Then I started looking around me and I realized something.  I think the first hints of this occurred to me at a dinner with my friends/colleagues when I looked around the table and realized that I was the only one there not wearing glasses.  I started to pay more attention to the glasses-wearing ratio in my daily life.  At the theater?  Nobody wears glasses.  At the ballroom dance studio?  No glasses there.  At the archive?  No glasses.  In the graduate classroom?  Just about everyone.

Are glasses part and parcel of what it takes to be smart?  Or are they so ingrained in our notion of a geek that if you happen to be a geek and happen to wear glasses you hang onto them to complete the picture?  Are glasses a huge plus for geek cred? 

Thinking of things this way made the glasses better.  I owned the glasses.  I rocked the glasses.  The glasses became part of my image.  I began to think of them like a mini-PhD, “Since I wear glasses, I MUST know what I’m talking about!”  They also allotted for a plethora of dramatic gesturing at key points in conversation.  Here’s a few you may like to try (if they’re not part of your repertoire already):

*The Old Snatch and Scrub: Take your glasses off.  Examine them in the light.  Decide they are too dirty to wear and clean them on your shirt.  As you are doing this, do not break eye contact with the person you are conversing with.  Put your glasses back on.

*The Librarian Tilt: As you go to read something, tilt your glasses further down your nose and peer over them.  It gives the illusion of greater concentration.

*The Urkel Push: with one finger, push your glasses back up the bridge of your nose.  This one should be used sparingly as it may otherwise come off as uuber geeky.

*The Rupert Giles Too-English-To-Watch Flare: Remove your glasses and gesticulate with them in one hand for no particular reason.  May be combined with the Snatch and Scrub for added drama.  Extra geek points if you are actually English.

While I am happy to have my contacts back, I am also ecstatic to try some of these moves when school starts again.  I’ll let you know how it affects my GPA.


Lacey said...

I just wear them because contacts are WAY too high maintenance for me on a daily basis. I've been thinking of getting them for events or the like, but otherwise? Meh. I just dont care.

Lyzard said...

I was a read in the dark with a small light way past my bedtime kind of child. No doubt this caused eye strain while my optical bits were still developing. Maybe more graduate students than theater or ballroom dance folks need corrective lenses. If the students don't have blurry vision before grad school, chances are they will before they are done.

I can see glasses getting in the way in the theater or dance studio. As for the archive, no clue. But you're in a graduate program for English. There' s pretty good chance that these folks stay up late reading in low light and have for much of their lives. And glasses beat contacts in this department. Fall asleep with your contacts in and you sticky, swollen, gross eyes. Fall asleep with you glasses on and you have to bend the rims back into place.

I agree that glasses are more accepted in geek circles though. I was thrilled in 5th grade when my eyes were finally bad enough to get glasses. Truth is, I have been in geek circles so long, I am surprised when people don't wear glasses. I've also know quite a few people to wear glasses with plain glass lenses (no corrective lenses) as part of an outfit.