I spend my life wandering through a blurry dream world, one made of vague ambiguous shapes, some moving, some standing still, some making noises, some that lick my face, some that don’t. Trees are blurry green shapes. People are the ones that talk at me. Cats are the small furry ones — sometimes rats. My environment is an indistinct cloud I float through like a balloon, a muddled impressionist painting by an untalented artist. Why do I live this way? Because I never wear glasses, and I need glasses to see.
When people wave at me from far away, I never wave back — not because I’m rude, but because I can’t tell if they’re making eye contact with me. Pupils are tiny and their angle is difficult to identify. Instead, I squint intensely in an expression frequently mistaken for a glare, focused on discerning the identity of this distant grayish blue blob. When the blob seems to exhibit signs of discomfort or awkwardness, I hazard a tentative wave, which is greeted with a half-smile and a quick departure in the opposite direction. Do they think I didn’t want to say hi? Or that they weren’t important enough for me to remember? Has my unaided eyesight cost me a friend? Not important. Interactions like these are all normal, and okay, and acceptable, and not at all cause for concern because, you know, it’s fine.
Standing in line at fast food restaurants, I frequently turn to my friend and say, “I can’t read.” He says, “They have special classes at the community college.” I say, “Please read me the menu up there.” He says, “It’s Wendy’s. They have burgers, frosties, fries — the menu’s exactly the same as it’s always been.” I say, “But they might have a special limited edition entrée I don’t know about.” He says, “Why don’t you wear your glasses?” I say, “Because they make my face look weird.” I can tell by his expression that what I’ve said is so unfathomably dumb, he can’t bear to formulate a rebuttal. Sometimes I ask the person at the counter to read me the menu: “List me your foods. All of them.”
Once, while sitting in a friend’s living room, I spotted a black silhouette rush past the window across from me. A few moments later, I saw it zoom past again. After seeing it a third time, I stood up, pointed at the window, and declared, “Justin, there’s something going on out there!” He said, “What?” I said, “Suspicious activities transpiring by your driveway. Someone in a black coat keeps running past the window.” He watched the window, and suddenly the figure passed by again. Then he turned to me. “Brad, that’s a garbage bag.”
The only time I wear my glasses — uncool silver framed ones from when I was fifteen — is when I’m driving a car because A) I’m legally obligated and B) if you see me driving without my glasses, it’s the last time you’ll ever see me alive. One day, I’ll just invest in a prescription windshield, but until then, I have this sense that I drive around in Nerd Mode. Nerd Mode is like a turbo jet fueled version of my normal nerdiness. Maybe I’ll turn to the passenger and, apropos of nothing, begin recounting the last ten issues of X-Men Legacy or maybe I’ll discuss the factors that led to the Butlerian Jihad in the prequel novels to Dune. Maybe I’ll describe my idea for a sequel to Serenity. It feels more natural when I’m wearing glasses.
I don’t like the way glasses encase and partition my facial features until I’m unrecognizable to myself — it’s the same feeling Native Americans must have had when settlers began dividing up the landscape with fences. I’m not myself anymore. I’m myself with glasses. And I don’t believe in augmenting myself to compensate for physical flaws because that only ends in, you know, cyborgs. I feel my face has sustained this general configuration of eyes, nose, and mouth for this long, and I don’t like the idea of adding another feature that could potentially throw the tableau further into chaos. Also, I can’t afford super cool kid glasses right now.
I know what you’re thinking. ‘Brad, you’re an idiot.’ Then, ‘Why don’t you just get contacts.’ I can’t get contacts because my eyes are fragile sensitive newborn kittens, and any poking/ prodding causes acute pain and uncontrollable crying. Once, I visited the eye doctor to see if maybe I could get some contacts, but when the eye doctor loomed toward me, grabbed my face, and attempted to thrust a contact lens onto my helpless eyeball, I began hyperventilating like a small child. The doctor said, “What’s he doing?” and my mom said, “He’s hyperventilating.” The doctor looked at me, still shaking and crying. “Huh. This has never happened before.” Maybe that wouldn’t happen now that I’m older, but it would.
At this point, I’m used to it. It’s like the way some HD televisions look too sharp and clear to be natural, so you just keep watching the old Magnavox. I’m used to the hazy indistinct world I live in — being unable to distinguish individual leaves on a tree, stealthily scooting my desk right up next to the chalkboard, stumbling through karaoke because the teleprompter’s too far away — so I feel (irrationally) comfortable continuing with a life of poor vision for the foreseeable future. Still, I occasionally have a flash of insight in which I realize my vision’s slowly steadily declining until the day I go blind in a cornfield, wander aimlessly for days, and then die of thirst in a neighborhood cul-de-sac.