It started out a really normal day. I went to work, picked up some groceries and a new shirt on the way home, paid the light bill, watered my plants, made a salad, lit the barbeque, slapped on a couple of steaks, and waited for Leo to come home. I expected him to hug me, eat, and whine about his boss, like he always did. But he was quiet and subdued, and I told him so.
"I've had something on my mind, it's not important"
To me, if he was upset, it was important, but I knew he'd spill when he was ready. We'd only been together a year, but we'd got to know each other really well. Maybe that was the problem. It occurred to me that we were behaving like a couple who'd been together for years and years, maybe we were in a bit of a rut. Well, as you can imagine, once that thought had crossed my mind, a lot of nastier ones cropped up too, obviously, like maybe there was someone else. That gave me a chill. Then I tried to think positive. Maybe he was going to suggest children, or marriage, not necessarily in that order. I wasn't even too sure I wanted it to be that. Then I thought logically and decided it was something at work. Maybe he was thinking of looking for another job. In the end I couldn't wait until he offered the information, so I asked.
"I get worried when you're so introverted. I think it's me."
"No!" he replied quickly "No, it's not you, it's me. And really, it's nothing to worry about."
He just didn't want to talk about it, and the more reluctant he was the more I wanted him to tell me.
"OK Sherri, I'll try and tell you, but you're probably going to think I've gone mad."
I looked at him even more worried now. He sighed a lot and cracked his knuckles. Fight or flight. Slowly he began.
"You know how people get piercings? It normal and natural to want to decorate yourself right?"
"You want a tattoo?"
"NO, no, bear with me here. And you know how some people have sex-changes..."
Seeing the horrified look on my face I guess, he quickly announced "NO! IT'S NOT THAT! No, that's just an example, I'm trying to explain.......you know what, I think it would be easier to try to explain if I wanted to be a woman..."
Leo was visibly sweating, and I knew this was something important, so, even in my fear of what he was about to say, I just knew that I loved him enough to go along with whatever this was. So I hugged him tight, really tight, and kissed him, and told him very firmly.
"I will support you, whatever it is"
"You will think it's so strange Sherri."
"I love you. Just tell me, I will help you."
"OK" he took another deep breath, "Ever since I was a child I wanted to wear glasses. I envied everyone who did. But I've always had good eyesight."
I felt somewhat relieved, but now very confused. Well, it was a bit quirky, but it was easy enough.
"So, we just go buy some glasses with plain lenses, yes? We can do that. I'm cool with that."
"No, that's not enough. I want to be nearsighted. I want to need glasses."
"Oh," I said, "That's a bit more difficult."
I thought about this for a while, just looking at the expression on his face, which showed some relief that he'd said as much as he had without me calling him a freak. I was split between two thoughts, one was that it really was a very odd thing to want, the other that it couldn't be done, and that he'd always be unhappy about this. But he hadn't finished.
"Difficult, yes, but not impossible. I read about it on a website today, it gave me new hope. I'd been trying to put the idea aside for years, but now..."
I was thinking at speed now. What mattered most to me was that Leo was happy. I didn't understand why he needed to do this, it made no sense at all really, but I understood well enough that he really did need to. I could see it written on his face.
"What do we have to do Leo?"
Hearing me say "we", realizing I really meant it when I said I would help him, he relaxed far more. He began to talk animatedly of a practice called Induced Myopia, which involved wearing increasingly stronger glasses to persuade his eyes to adjust. He showed me the testimonials on the website.
"I've e-mailed a couple of the people who've done it for more advice, but I think I understand the basic idea. I'll need to hurry though, you have to do this while you're young. I may have to push the envelope a bit. I need to find out just what strength I can tolerate without too much discomfort."
"How are you going to get a doctor to prescribe you glasses you don't need?"
"You don't, you buy from places on-line."
"Don't THEY need the prescription?"
"They just trust you to get it right. There's a place in Hong Kong that are really supportive. I'm going to order from there."
"OK," I said, "Let's do it then."
It didn't take long. Leo had already made up his mind what he was going to order, he'd obviously given this a lot of thought, he just wanted my input on the frames. So he ordered a pair of glasses, -2.00, whatever that meant. Then he looked at me long and hard and said
"Thanks. You must be wondering what the f***!"
"Honestly? Well, I'm really mostly just relieved that you didn't tell me you're seeing someone else!"
"Oh Sherri" he said, and he had tears in his eyes.
"You are precious, you know that? How could I EVER look at anyone else when you're so good to me. You're so...supportive. I was so worried about telling you this. I thought of a whole bunch of things you might say, and you didn't say any of them. Because you're wonderful" and he kissed me, "but I bet you are wondering.......really wondering"
"I'm not sure Leo, really.......I don't know what to think. It's different..yes......it's not something I've heard before, but..you know, you're right. It's really no different to wanting a piercing."
He smiled and hugged me again.
"But there is one other thing Sherri, once I start doing this, I mean once it works anyway, there's no going back."
"Yeah, I know, so...in that respect it's actually better than a tattoo or a piercing, it takes time."
"You're right. We can both change our minds before it's a done deal"
"No Leo, I'm not going to stop you. Not if it's important to you."
He made love to me and then we slept, and I dreamt of my Leo in glasses. It was OK.
Three weeks went by and I'd given it a lot of thought. It didn't seem too strange after a while. Just something he wanted to do. Big deal. Just different in style but no different by degree to any of the other things we do for vanity and pleasure. I thought of the people making huge holes in their earlobes, or...other places. Extending, extending...bit by bit. No different. And if you wanted rid of a tattoo or a bunch of piercings, the only solution was surgery, but it'd leave scars. Leo could make himself as nearsighted as he wanted and then change his mind and get surgery. No scars. Hey, in a way it was less risky, and yet all those other practices were socially acceptable! And there was the ultimate irony. Because, Leo's thing would have to be a secret! I was really looking forward to sharing this secret.
The package arrived Friday, my neighbor took it for us while we were both at work, and brought it round before Leo got home. Old Mrs Taylor scrutinized the Hong Kong stamps but didn't ask. I placed it unwrapped on the table next to a glass of champagne. I wanted to make this special for Leo. I prepared his favorite meal, and wore the dress he liked me in best. And I lit some candles. When he came in and saw all this, he got all choked up and told me how much he loved me. I told him I knew. He didn't rush to open his package as I'd expected, but ate his dinner first. Then we went and sat down together on the sofa, with our champagne, and he opened his package there. He was like a poor child who'd been given his first ever wrapped gift. Carefully protected inside were his new glasses, and when he hesitated, I picked them up and put them on him. He blinked a few times, but smiled.
"How do they feel?"
"What does WOAH mean?"
He was looking around the room and just grinning so much.
"Leo! Tell me!"
"It's hard to explain, here, you try!"
I was really surprised. Everything looked clear enough, but I could feel a strange pulling sensation in my eyes, like a tightness. I didn't like it one bit, so I gave them back to him, and he put them back on.
"Are you going to be able to cope with that?"
"I hope so. I'll try, anyway. So, what do you think?"
That was the question really, wasn't it. He was going to have to wear them 24/7 for this to work, or at least, all the time he was awake. I would have to get used to seeing him in glasses, and now was the time to decide whether I liked it or not. It took a bit of getting used to, he looked really different. But it wasn't bad.
We drank our champagne, talked about his plans, and then he was overcome with gratitude for my support again and we made love, with him wearing his glasses. The first of many, many times.
He wore them all weekend, and decided on Sunday he'd better try driving. He just went around the block a few times, and came back quite happy. So Monday he went to work in them. Apparently everyone just assumed that he normally wore contacts, and he didn't contradict them. It was that easy.
We had no idea how long it would take for his eyes to start changing, but it was only a couple of weeks before he stopped noticing the tight feeling in his eyes. I found myself forgetting what we were doing, I just got used to seeing him in glasses. Life went on and I only really thought about it on the few rare occasions when he didn't have them on, like when he first woke up. But he was really dedicated, and he put them on first thing, before he turned off his alarm clock, and he never took them off at night until he was ready to switch off the lamp. A few friends asked why he was wearing glasses, and he just said he preferred them. Just like that. No-one ever questioned it. We had circled a date on the calendar for six months exactly from the day he first started wearing them to see what the result was, and he made a date to see an optometrist for that date. He came home elated, waving a prescription, and he picked me right up in the air and swung me round.
"It's only -1.00 but I did it, I did it!"
"Hey! Well done! Now what?"
"Now I buy -3.00 and wait another 6 months!"
And so we did. After the second 6 months he had achieved a real prescription of -1.75, after the third 6 months he made it to -2.25, and after two years it was -2.50, higher than he glasses he'd used to begin with. Now he really needed them, it wasn't a game any more, and he was really happy to be nearsighted. It made me happy too, I was happy because he was happy, and I'd grown to love him in glasses. Now he was wearing -4.50, and still trying, but we knew that each increase had been slightly less than the one before. It was getting more difficult to push his eyes to change.
"When will you stop Leo?"
"How do you mean stop?"
"When will you say OK, this is enough, and just wear your real prescription?"
"Oh. I....I don't know. I've got so used to being overcorrected, I don't feel right wearing my real prescription" he laughed "Maybe I'm addicted, maybe I'll have to reduce it back down to my real prescription one step at a time."
Then he looked at me seriously.
"Maybe I am addicted. When I started doing this I just wanted to need glasses, the prescription didn't matter. But I wasn't satisfied with -1.00, that's why I kept going. I know I'm not satisfied with -2.50. I can manage without them if I want to, OK, not to drive, but you know........I want to be really dependant."
It was the same longing I'd seen when he started out. Yes, it was some kind of obsession, maybe that's an addiction. But I knew he didn't want to be cured.
A whole year later he had only managed to get his real prescription up to -3.00 and I knew he was disappointed. He sat down to order -5.00 glasses but he stopped before doing so.
"Sherri, do you think there would be a doctor somewhere willing to perform surgery on me?"
For the moment there I thought he meant to make his eyes normal again, but I quickly realized what he was saying.
"Oh Leo! I don't...............I doubt it........it would be illegal, wouldn't it?"
"I could sign something. There must be one.....somewhere."
The look on his face told me he meant it. I understood after all this time just how important this was to him, it was part of who he was, it came from deep, deep inside. Like his comparison to a sex-change, inside Leo was a very myopic person who needed to be released.
He did order his -5.00 glasses, but he also spent a lot of time on-line searching for a maverick surgeon, and finally, late one night he woke me with the news.
"I'll have to go to Russia, but I've found a doctor who'll do it"
"Yep, best eye surgeons on the planet, but a lot of them are hard pushed for cash. If I can take arrive in Moscow with the dollars, there's a guy called Dr Tarog Varnov who will do it for me. Coming?"
So, I found myself in Moscow on a bitterly cold March morning, in a surprisingly clean and modern building, waiting for Leo to come out of surgery. It had cost us almost $8,000 including the air fares and hotel as well as the fee for the surgery itself, and while I was sitting there the absurdity of this expense made me chuckle to myself, but I loved him - what could I do? Our situation was so very different to most of Dr Varnov's patients, in that normally they come out able to see clearly for the first time in years. Leo was led from the room virtually unable to see anything, yet the smile on his face said it all. So I led him blindly, slowly, back to our hotel, and we hung around the hotel for a few days with the weather bad outside, and him unable to do very much, so we made love a lot! At the end of the week we went to an optometrist, and they refracted Leo's eyes at -12. He hadn't told me what he'd asked for, and I still didn't really understand those numbers, but I was aware it was quite a jump from where he was at. We paid for the strong glasses, and had to wait a couple more days while they were made, and Leo never said anything about them, in fact he was oddly silent on the whole topic. When we picked them up, I was shocked. I hadn't expected them to be so strong, they looked VERY different to the ones he'd worn before. But it was obvious that he knew what to expect, because when he looked in the mirror his face just lit up with delight. For a moment he was enjoying it so much he forgot himself, then he put his hand in mine and asked me, knowingly
"Are you OK with this?"
"Leo, it's too late now if I'm not, why didn't you tell me you were going to go this far?"
He looked guilty, "I was scared, I thought you would try to talk me out of it, but having come this far.......this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, there was no point going for anything less."
"You know, I do understand that. But what made you choose -12?"
"I didn't. I just told Dr Varnov to do as much as he could."
"Leo! It could have been much higher!"
"Yeah," he sighed, "I know."
"Don't tell me you're disappointed?"
"Only a little. No, really, I'm happy. If this is as much as they can do, then it's as much as they can do. I can't ask for any more."
Well, at least he was being sensible. The funny thing was, I liked them, I really did. Maybe I'd been conditioned, or maybe I'd caught...whatever it was, but I loved him in those strong glasses.
Back home now it was going to be harder to explain to everyone why his glasses had changed so much, but it's amazing how people who aren't obsessive about glasses don't look properly. Leo shrugged off comments with a "bit of a jump in my prescription" reply, and smiled quietly to himself. And then he would come home and make love to the woman who had somehow, slowly, imperceptibly, developed an all-out passion for Leo's Russian glasses.
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