I figured that wearing glasses for the INspect-acles assignment would be interesting. Turns out that noticing what’s interesting is hard when, for most of the week, I found myself defensive, self-conscious, disillusioned by childhood expectations and mostly uncomfortable.
what do you inspect me to say?
Naturally, people that know me and are used to seeing me, were curious. I anticipated this. I was ready for the double-takes and the off-guarded regards for my new appearance. The most common comments:
Them: “I didn’t know you wore glasses!”
Me: “I just got them.”
Them: “I’ve never seen you in glasses.”
Me: “I just started wearing them.”
These pre-planned responses were very effectual. Neither deceptive nor descriptive, these one-liners saved me a lot of time (and preserved a little mystery.) Too often, too much time is wasted in people elaborating on these pleasantries. It’s like talking about the weather for too long. Or when a compliment isn’t just received but carried away:
Person 1: “I like your glasses!”
Person 2: “Thanks! I just got them. I couldn’t decide between tortoise-shell or olive green so I got both! The lady at the store- you know that store on 8th street- she was really great and gave me a deal on both!”
Person 1: “Those ones look really great!”
Person 2: “Yeah, with this outfit I figured I could get away green. I even switched out my purse to match! Come to think of it, I got this purse at that store too! Hey I guess I did pretty well. I mean if they’re from the same store, they’re totally SUPPOSED to match…”
Those were the conversations that I didn’t want to have about my glasses and really- conversations I never want to have. (I liken myself more to Person 1- wearing a waning smile while plotting a quick getaway.) So I had strategized a defense. I put on my spectacles for the week and prepared to squash any attention paid to my new look, with short, ambiguous replies: ‘Yes’ and ‘thanks’, and ‘I just got them.’ What’s significant is how subtle this defense strategy was, even to me. Looking back, I realize it was as an unconscious decision based on a self-consciousness. We all do it all the time because pleasantries invariably turn into compliments into conversation… putting you on stage, in the spotlight and (more specifically) under the lens of attention. I sought to avoid the inspection of me in spectacles.
inspection and reflection of self:
Don’t get me wrong. It was intriguing to catch my own attention in the mirror throughout the week. Though I never got used to that stranger wearing glasses, staring back at me, she was OK. I inspected her looks with curiosity and acceptance.
I was very adamant about not spending any money on “fake” glasses. I considered old sunglasses and reading glasses. I removed their lenses and reconsidered all of them for the wearing. But they looked silly. How could I walk around in any of them for a week? I cared A LOT, I realize, that I would be spending an entire week, seen and considered behind frames, lenses or not. Although it would be temporary (and ultimately a choice) I couldn’t reason with myself to settle for silly. It took me two days, a little luck at the right accessory store, and four dollars to find a pair that (to put it one way) would match the purse.
So it’s a fashion. I mean, when I was younger (and I wasn’t alone) I wanted glasses. I yearned to pick out a color and a shape, a pair to identify with as a part of my own look. I paid attention to the symptoms of my spectacled peers and feigned the same. Prompted by ‘headaches’ and “I can’t read that, it’s too blurry,” my mom even took me to the eye doctor. Not fooled (apparently I am unable to fail an eye exam) my eyes having failed me, the doctor said they passed the test and sent home to live the rest of my life with unassisted vision. I grew out of wanting to wear glasses. (Fashion is fickle.) As a teenager, glasses are for nerds. As an adult, optometry is expensive maintenance.
As for me, this week, in spectacles, I was mostly irritated. Annoyed by something atop my nose. Distracted by the frames in my peripheral vision for the entire week, I still wonder, when do you get used to that? Unaccustomed to wearing lenses indoors, I constantly ‘lost’ my glasses atop my head, treating them like sunglasses pushed out of the way when I came in from outside. I never realized that glass is a mess! It doesn’t stay clean ever, (who would have thought?)
Most unforeseen was the interest I somehow managed to arouse in others to also wear spectacles for the week for no obvious reason. Normally I share the details of my weekly adventures eagerly and encourage others to participate. As I mentioned before, this week was an exception to that. I explained very little to very few about my ‘new’ glasses. Whether or not that’s relative, I was still surprised by my 20/20-vision-friend Lindsey (photographed) who stuck out most of the week with me in spectacles for no good reason.