I’ve been wearing glasses since third grade. If it weren’t for innovations in optical technology, my glasses would be 10 pound Coke bottles and I would be a bigger nerd than I already am. When I was in 10th grade I finally got contacts and haven’t taken them out since. I still wear glasses around the house, but vanity, thy name is woman and my preference is contacts.
This is why I’m having such a difficult time adjusting to the fact that I now, at least occasionally, have to wear low-level reading glasses. There, I’ve said it.
Not that I’ve seen an optician about this. I noticed it in jewelry class, trying to string beads. Putting tiny thin wire through a little bitty hole drove me nuts. The store where I took the class had reading glasses to barrow, so I did. I was embarrassed to have to wear them and embarrassed that they were ugly. Then I took another jewelry class and was cussing that I couldn’t see wire I was working on. I made a comment about how I was too young to have to wear reading glasses and some old biddy across the table said, “hone, we all grow old.” One of my classmates from the first class saw the death glare I was giving the biddy and how I had changed the grip on my wire cutters just enough to do some serious damage and intervened. “She’s only in her mid-30s,” my classmate interceded as she nodded toward me. The biddy agreed; I was too young to have to wear reading glasses. Small victory, as I knew it was inevitable. I’m growing old
Two weeks ago Doug and I went to the local Mexican Flea Market, on Hwy. 290. Any cheapo thing you need, they have it. Doug was looking at a much needed pair of sunglasses. He’s forever losing his. While he was looking at sunglasses, I noticed they had reading glasses and started trying on a few pairs. I finally found a pair of 1.00x that were kind of cute, or at least not horrid. I’m not sure what 1.00x means, but they were the ones that worked best; 1.25x were just a bit too strong. While I was adamant that didn’t need them to read, I was still very depressed that I even needed them for beading. The vendor took pity on me and threw in another pair for free. I’m not sure if Doug was playing a cruel joke, but the second pair, a snazzy red number, ended up in my book bag with all the student papers I have to grade. They are on my desk at school, in case I ever break down and decide I have to use them for more than beads.
Of course, the last couple of weeks have been crazy busy and making jewelry has been out of the question. Working with the students, I don’t feel old, unless of course I make references to things they know nothing about (like carving Ivory soap figurines in Girl Scouts) or I start thinking how they weren’t born until I was in high school. I figure mid-30s isn’t that old. Then IT happened. The culmination of the glasses and growing old. I was mistaken for a mother of a college student.
One of my students, a 22 year old senior, was with me after class Tuesday. We were heading to my office but I had to stop first at the quick pick dining place to grab a sandwich to take with us. The student and I continued our conversation during the ordering of the food and the checkout, when a friends of the student came up. “Hey B! How’s it going? It’s been sooooo long! Is this your mother?”
Immediately I turned to glare at this student. She was young, looked like a freshman. I stared her up and down, trying to burn her image in my mind in case she was a PR major and took my class. I turned back around, grabbed my food and credit card, and walked off. Either I look way older than I am, or this girl thought I gave birth at 14. My student, realizing her friend’s faux pas, rushed after me. “Ms. Q, there is no way you look like you are my mother!” The rest of the walk to my office my student tried to reassure me that the other girl was just an airhead. I’m still not sure I buy it.
Last night didn’t help either. Doug and I volunteered for the opening night of Plaid Tidings at the Zachary Scott Theatre. Before the show we had dinner at Austin Java. Because service is quick and we had time to kill, we thumbed through this week’s Austin Chronicle, the arts, entertaining and alternative political newspaper. The dim lighting in the restaurant, combined with the 9 pt. Helvetica type the Chronicle uses, did a number on my eyes. I gave up trying to read any article and looked at the ads instead. The reading glasses would have been handy, but I’m definitely not at the point where I’ll carry them with me at all times. After all, I’m only in my mid-30s. I’m not ready to grow old yet.