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Glasses Don't Just Help You See

I didn’t always wear glasses.

When I was very young the lenses inside my eyes were removed. At the age of three I was given the gift of sight by means of nose dentingly thick spectacles. They were super cute on a three-year-old. By the time I started kindergarten, I decided the gift of sight was secondary to the gift of not being teased.

I convinced my parents to invest in hard contact by the time first grade started. I wore those contacts all through the formative years of self-identity. I do not have an internal picture of myself as a glasses wearer beyond the age of six.

At the age of twenty-three I had surgery to implant lenses inside my eyes, similar to cataract replacement surgery (though I never had cataracts and the placement of my lenses is different because I have no chamber inside my eye to hold the lenses in place). There were complications. Long story short, I ended up having to wear glasses again. Yay.

Skip a year. Aften on a date with this dude. Neither the dude nor myself really knew if either of us liked the other.

There is no better date option for this ‘do we like we’ insecurity than sports-viewing. Sporting events have jumbo-trons. Jumbo-trons favorite between plays activity is to troll the audience and peer-pressure uncomfortable and insecure dates into kissing. I was terrified of that stupid cam.

I have an inability to recognize people in person as well as in video. This day I learned that I also suffer an inability to recognize myself. (Seriously, I didn't know this).

Some cutey-cute brunette sans glasses and her ‘coulda been my date’ dude show up on screen. I even did the lift the arm test and that cutey-cute ‘coulda been me sans glasses’ chick raised her arm too!

“Oh my gosh! We’re on the kiss cam!” *appropriately embarrassed yet resigned to the peer-pressure indignity of the all-powerful jumbo tron face*

“Uhhhh… No, we’re not.” *disgust that his ‘do we like we’ date is trying to trick him into a kiss in the weirdest way possible*

Guess what—I’m not six anymore. And I wear glasses again.

By this time the cutey-cute ‘coulda been us’s’ were already smooching for all to see. And for me to see that the chick is not in fact—me. And at that moment I realized that I wear glasses. I WEAR GLASSES! The girl on screen does NOT wear glasses. There is no friggin’ way that’s me.

I’ve mistaken myself for other non-glasses wearers since then. As recent as last year in fact. Because despite knowing full well that I WEAR GLASSES NOW,

I can’t seem to translate that knowledge to my internal notion of ‘what it is I look like’. On a positive note, I always think I’m a much more svelte and slightly exotic female human, which I feel can’t be overlooked. Even in the ‘comparison shame’ society I came of age in, it somehow served me a solid ‘think I’m better looking than I really am’ mentality. Thanks formative years.

In the last five years I’ve opted for the loudest, brightest, boldest, most stand-outish glasses frames I can order with my crazy-butt-astigmatism and nut-job-powerful progressive bifocal lenses. I would not have thought I could pull off the loud frames seven years ago, but now it seems to be part of my personality. People know me as the girl in stand-out frames.

The big test came when my husband and I attended the season opener NFL game last September. It was a once in a lifetime trip for us to go to Gillette Stadium to watch our Patriots play. Our team stank so bad that day, yet I had a personal victory. Between plays that jumbo tron was in full audience ‘macking mode, including a ‘tweet yourselves and it’ll be jumbotronned’.

I snapped a picture of my husband and me, hashtagged it the required tag and sent it out to the social media gods. (I should note that I had recently broken my red glasses frames by kneeling on them while trying to rescue my puking son from blowing junks all over our tent at a recent family camping trip—so I have years old non-bold frames on at the time). So, I might have cheated by keeping my recently snapped photo open to compare the images thrown on the tron with the one in my hand.

It took a few plays before the image of us showed on the jumbo tron, but it was there, and it matched the one on my phone! I pointed it out to everyone in scream-radius—“It’s me!” I totally knew it was me!

Never in all the history of jumbo trons has there been a fan more excited about seeing themselves on screen than there was that day. I forced friendship on the nice couple next to us (from Louisiana celebrating a birthday) just to show the *camera in my hand* proof that the person on the tron was me—it’s me!!!

They gave me one of those *yeah—it’s everyone who tweeted at some point* awkward joint celebratory smiles, probably unsure about my mental stability. I didn’t take the time to explain to them that my sanity was decent, it’s my visual/cognitive brain communication that’s out of whack.

It was a good jumbo tron moment. I didn’t question ‘do we like we’ and I totally identified myself thanks to a crib-sheet style comparison photo in hand—and glasses. I wear glasses.

Bold glasses. Bright glasses. Glasses that can be easily identified in a photo or on video by someone who can't identify herself any other way. Yes please.

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©2017 by Aften Brook Szymanski.