I have come to the conclusion that the world is divided into two sorts of people – those who can cope with glasses and those who can’t. And, as with handling any other glassware responsibly, it helps if you start young. Those, like me, who don’t discover glasses until they are adults have no framework to guide us, and no respect for the effect glasses have on our balance or our ability to judge distance.
For years I got away with being a closet glasses wearer. I only needed them for the computer, which meant, as I worked from home, I could nip out to the chemist every now and then to buy a pair of cheap magnifying reading glasses and no one was any the wiser. I thought I could handle it, but it didn’t stop there. Soon +1 magnification wasn’t enough – I needed stronger and stronger lenses until I was creeping up to +3 – prescription strength.
After a while, I wasn’t just wearing them at night to write and surf the web, oh no. Some days I had to reach for my glasses before I could get out of bed in the morning. I started wearing them all day – I needed them to tell the time, to text, to put on my mascara. I began to rely on them just to get through the day, but being a newbie I didn’t know my limitations.
I’d wear them on the bus or out shopping. I’d sneak a pair into my handbag ‘just in case’. I’d panic if I had to check my phone or reach into my purse and couldn’t find them. My body couldn’t cope with such strong lenses and I found my eyes getting lazier and lazier until I was struggling to tell the time or recognise friends in the street without my new crutch. My balance was shot too – I found myself misjudging distances, tripping over stairs and reaching for cups of coffee that weren’t where I thought they were. But I hated myself for this newfound dependence – I was still in denial about the extent of my problem.
Sometimes I’d busk it and leave them at home but I was just kidding myself – I knew, deep down, that I was becoming dependent on them. But unlike those who embrace glasses early on, I am an unwilling glasses wearer. I hate my glasses and they know it. I can’t count the number of pairs I’ve abandoned, lost, broken or just destroyed through utter neglect. I may need my glasses, but I have no more respect for them than I do for a nicked biro. I sit on them, toss them into my bag without a case, leave them in other people’s houses and, worse, refuse to clean them. I was getting through two pairs a week – it was getting out of hand. I was becoming a serial specs abuser.
I knew I couldn’t get away with buying them over the counter any more. It was time to accept that I needed professional help. So it’s off to the optician I go. My only consolation is that I know that it is possible to wear glasses with style – if you know how to handle it. My two new student pals, both young but long-term glasses wearers, do it effortlessly. In the six months I have known them I have turned up to lectures with no glasses, scratched glasses, broken, one-legged Jack Duckworth-style glasses, a different pair each time. They, meanwhile, have each worn the same pairs of classy, designer, Buddy Holly glasses week in, week out. They don’t stuff them into coat pockets or on top of their heads, they wear them as stylishly and effortlessly as any other accessory, like a favourite pair of shoes or a good pair of earrings.
I have no choice but to try to follow them, but what if Dorothy Parker was right and men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses? Watch this space. Let me know how you handle your specs by leaving a comment below or tweeting @AmandaAtCandis.