by Izzy Lennon
Saturday I couldn’t believe that today was my last day at the restaurant. No longer would I say the words “Bonjour, je m'appelle Chris - Hi, I’m Chris and I’ll be your server.” I was excited, yet a bit scared. For the past five years, the bistro had been my home.
Tomorrow my life is going to change big time. I am moving to be with George in Montreal. I have never been to the Canada OR lived with a man. This long distance relationship has been going on since George was transferred last Summer. I guess it’s time to be together.
What was scaring me most, about the move, was that I would be unemployed, for the first time, since I was a teenager and started baby-sitting. The Lord must have heard my prayers. Tonight was a slow night and my last customer was a semi-regular who has dinner at the bistro whenever he is in town on business. He only comes in about once every six weeks but is so memorable due to his generous tipping and his, hard to describe, exotic looks. He also wears the most interesting glasses. It seems like he is wearing a different pair every time he comes in.
My coworkers waited until I brought him his drink and placed his order before they approached me with a large cake. The management, servers, and kitchen staff gave me a round of applause as they presented me with it and a small gift bag containing a PDA.
The first to speak was Henri the owner who, in his Parisian accent, said “Chris, we are all going to miss you and wish you the best of luck. I took the liberty of entering all of our names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mails into the PDA. You have no excuse for not staying in touch” Everyone laughed. Henri then said “Montreal is a wonderful place. I have many cousins there but if things don’t work out, you know that my door is always open.” He then hugged me. Everyone clapped.
Lee, the pastry chef and my roommate , spoke next and said “I know how much you love my Napoleon cake and wanted it to be the last food we shared. I heard that it is not available in Montreal . Just kidding! They have it but but they call it Mille Feuilles - but it’s not as good as mine. I had Henri put the recipe in the PDA. Make it and think of us and the fun times. I’m gonna miss you” We hugged and cried.
I thanked everyone and excused myself to tend to my customer who watched the celebration from afar.
“Are you OK?” he asked “What was all that about? Something good, I hope.”
I told him that it was my last night and that I was moving. His smile faded as he said “Wonderful for you but bad for me. You are one of the reasons, I eat here. You and your colleagues always provide the best service - it’s real and sincere. Where are you moving to?”
“Montreal! I said ”to be with George.”
“Really?!” he said with a big smile “I live from Montreal. Will you be working in a restaurant there? I’ll become a regular.”
“Actually, I don’t have a job yet” I said “I love what I do but was hoping for something with more traditional hours that will allow me to spend my nights with George. After all, that’s the reason for moving there. I love him so much.”
“I’m a hopeless romantic too. I have been in a relationship with a wonderful man for the last seven years. Together, we are raising his son who is now in grade 4. I miss them both so much and can not wait to fly back home to them.” He closed his eyes, smiled and paused for a second before asking me: “What do you think of eyeglasses?”
“Eyeglasses? George wears glasses. Come to think of it, all the guys I have been with have worn glasses. I guess I like them. I definitely like YOUR glasses. Why do you ask?”
“My name Jean-Jacques Patel. I’m an optometrist. I have a practice and own an optical shop in the Gay Village. I am looking for an assistant. I think you’d be great. I’d like to offer you a job.”
“The Gay Village? That’s not far from where I’ll be living. I never thought of selling glasses for a living, but you know, I might be good at it. I have a degree in fashion and a I minored in French in college. I have helped people make the right glasses choices. George is always getting complimented on the two pairs of glasses I picked out for him. Just this afternoon I picked out glasses for a good friend whose glasses I have been choosing for years. Here, check out this note.”
I pulled a note out of my apron pocket and handed it to him. The handwritten note read:
Your leaving has marked the end of an era. You have been helping me pick my glasses since my vision was just shitty. Now it’s really, really, really, shitty. You better come back to visit and to help me pick glasses. If you don’t I’ll have to get laser surgery.
Jean-Jacques finished the last sip of his drink as he finished reading the card and said:
“Really, really, really, shitty vision, eh? If you can pick out Alex’s glasses, you’ll be able to work for me. My clientele is predominantly gay and vain. The really, really, really shitty vision guys tend to buy contacts. I wish they would buy glasses too. I’d make more money. I’m trying to change that by offering more stylish glasses. That’s why I come here to New York City. I am working with a few designers and always searching for new ones. Having someone who knows the city will be very helpful. Yesterday I got lost trying to find a neighborhood in Brooklyn called Dumbo. Strange name, eh?
I laughed and told him “Dumbo is an acronym for Down-Under-Manhattan-Bridge-Overpass”
“That makes perfect sense,” he said “that is exactly where it was. I feel like such a dumbo for not knowing.” We both laughed. “Chris, please come work for me. In addition to a good salary, I give all my employees 50% discount on glasses. Do you wear glasses or contacts yourself?”
“No. I’ve got 20/20 vision.”
“The discount still applies to glasses you buy for George or Alex with the shitty, shitty, shitty vision.”
“No, that’s really, really, really shitty vision” we both laugh and I said “Speaking of glasses, your glass is empty. Do you want another? It’s on me.”
“I’ll be right back with it and your dinner” I said as I left.
I held up the empty glass and motioned to Casey, who was tending bar, to pour another.
Casey asked “What’s happening between you and the guy in the funky glasses? There seems to be more chit chat going on than usual.”
“He has offered me a job at his optical shop in Montreal. The job includes daytime hours, trips here to find designers, and a 50% discount. I think I’m going to take it.”
“Congratulations!” Casey said with a big smile “Can you get me a discount on my contacts?”
“Since when do you wear contacts?”
“Since high school but I’ve had glasses since the end of fourth grade. The doctor said that I probably needed them sooner because the prescription was pretty strong for a first one.”
With a chuckle, Casey then said: “Without my contacts or glasses I have to bring things about 4 inches from my eyes to see them clearly. The only person that has seen me in glasses since high school is my roommate Kim, whose eyes are worse than mine - but you didn’t hear that from me, OK?”
“Kim’s secret is safe with me. We’ll continue this conversation later” I said as I picked up the drink and took it to my customer. As I placed the drink on the table, Henri brought the entree to the table.”
“Dr. Patel, this is Henri the owner of the bistro. He’s like a father to all of us” They shake hands.
“Dr. Patel is far too formal, call me Jean-Jacques or JJ.”
“Henri, this is my new boss JJ. Yes, I would like to accept your job offer.”
The three of us smiled and Henri said: “Dr. Patel, I mean Jean-Jacques, you will not be disappointed. Chris is a wonderful worker. I will now leave you to your meal. Very nice to meet you.”
“Welcome aboard Chris. I’m really looking forward to working with you. Thanks!”
“No, thank you JJ. I’ll leave you to you meal. Please motion to me or the bartender if you need anything.”
I joined Casey behind the bar and we shared a piece of the Napoleon cake. Casey asked me “Remember that parka that you helped me buy last winter ?
“How could I forget it? It was really nice. Did you ever get to wear it?
“Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, it never got cold enough here. It’s still in the garment bag from the showroom. Do you want it? I hear that the Montreal winters are cold and long. I want you to have it to remember me by.”
I hug Casey and say “Thank you. But I won’t be soon forgetting you. I need to stay in touch with you to get the discounted contact lenses to you. I took the job!”
Casey hugged back tighter, congratulated me, and said “Great. When we’re done here, take the subway with me to my place. I’ve got my car there. We’ll get the parka and I’ll drive you home.”
“Sounds like a plan! Let me get a piece of cake for my new boss. His name is Jean-Jacques but he prefers JJ.” I cut a big piece of cake and brought it to JJ “We call this Napoleon cake and it’s my favorite. I have been told that in Canada it’s called Mille Feuilles”
“Thank you. It is also MY favorite dessert.” JJ took a big bite and said “Chris, you just have spoiled me. This is fabulous. There is a bakery on Sainte Catherine that makes a good Mille Feuilles but not as good as this one. My compliments to the Patissièr”
“Merci!” I said “The Patissièr is my roommate. I will pass the compliment on to Lee tonight. Would you like a cafe au lait or a cordial?”
“No coffee for me - I think I have an early flight from JFK. But, I will have a Napoleon Brandy to accompany the Napoleon cake. Speaking of my flight, let me check something.” He pulled his airline ticket out his attaché and looked at it. “My flight’s not as early as I thought - it’s at 1 PM - but I’ll still stick with the brandy.”
“Can I see your ticket? My God, we are on the same flight! Henri is driving me to the airport. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind taking you too. Let me check with him”
“That sounds like a delightful way to get to know you and Henri. Ask him if he minds and I will take the check, when you get a chance.”
“Great! I’ll be right back with it.” I said as I walked to the bar where Henri was. As I finish tabulating the check, I ask if he would mind if JJ tags along since we are on the same flight.
Henri replied “That would be fine. Why don’t the three of us get together for coffee at 10? I’ll take Jean-Jacques his check and work out the details” Henri picked up the leather check holder and walked to JJ’s table “Chris tells me that you are both on the same flight. I can pick Chris up first and then pick you up at your hotel. I know a charming diner near the airport. Will 10 AM work for you?”
“I’ll be ready at 10. I am staying at the Hilton in mid town.”
“Chris and I will see you then” Henri said as he started to walk away
“Henri wait! You forgot to leave the check!”
“No, Jean-Jacques, I didn’t forget.” Henri said, with a tear in his eye “Dinner is on me. Please take good care of Chris”
JJ’s eyes were also tearing up “I will. I promise. (cleared his throat) I will.” JJ said as he took off his glasses and wiped his eyes with his napkin “Good night Chris. Good night Henri. Thanks! See you in the morning”
“Good night!” Henri and I said in unison.
Henri then told Casey and me “I’ll finish cleaning up here. Why don’t you two take off? See you in the morning Chris”
Casey and I left and walked to the subway. Though it was only a 7 minute ride to Casey’s apartment, I really wished that I had used the toilet before leaving the bistro. As we exited the subway stairs I said: “God, I have to pee. How far is your apartment?”
Casey pointed at the door about 15 feet away and said: “Right here. Having the subway so close, I hardly ever use may car anymore. Can you hold it for few more seconds?” Casey unlocked the two locks and said “The bathroom is right there.”
“Thanks!” I said as I ran in and relieved myself. As I washed my hands I noticed a contact lens case, a bottle of lens solution, and a pair of glasses on the sink counter. The glasses had a stylish tortoise shell frame. Curiously, I picked them up and examined them more closely. The lenses were quite thick - about one centimeter in one eye and a little thicker in the other. I tried them on and thought “Damn! Casey must be blind!” I took them off and put them back. I opened the door and was about to walk out when I had a thought.
“Casey, you weren’t kidding about having bad eyes. These are strong!” I said as I walked out of the bathroom wearing the glasses
Casey laughed and said “Yeah, my glasses are strong but those are not mine. They’re Kim’s but they look better on you. Mine are in my backpack. I’ll grab them. I always have them and an extra pair of contacts with me in case of an emergency. Luckily I have never had one. With glasses like those, I’m surprised that Kim doesn’t do the same. Let me pop out my lenses and show you my glasses. I’ll be right back”
While Casey disappeared to the bathroom, I walked to the window and looked at the night skyline through Kim’s glasses. I have never taken acid but I imagined that the visual affect must be similar.
Casey walked out of the bathroom in a pair of rimless glasses and asked: ”Don’t these look stupid?’’
I took Kim’s glasses off my face, placed them on the coffee table, and said ”not stupid - just not the best choice for you. They’re too invisible. With your skin tone and red hair, you need a plastic frame to match. More along the lines of Kim’s glasses. Here give me your glasses and put these on. Wow! Much better but they would be perfect if they had a bit more orange color. Check yourself out in the mirror.”
“Mirror? I can’t see shit through these. They’re -14Rx. I wear -6.75
“Do you have a camera on your computer? I asked
“Yeah! Good idea!”
After taking a few photos with the web cam, Casey took off Kim’s glasses and placed them the computer table and asked “Do you know where my glasses are?”
“There right here!” I said as I picked up Casey’s glasses and examined the lenses. They had a non-glare coating on them. The edges were about 7 mm thick . I put them on and asked “How do I look?”
“I told you that I can’t see more than 4 inches without them. Come closer.”
I place my face about 4 inches away from Casey’s “Can you see me now?”
Casey pulled me closer and kissed me passionately. I didn’t pull back. “Oh my God! I am so sorry Chris! You came into focus and looked so sexy in my glasses. I don’t know what came over me. I’m sorry!”
“Don’t worry about it.” I said as I took the glasses off my face and placed them on Casey. “Kim’s glasses may be more powerful , but yours, are definitely more magical. Let’s look at these pictures.”
We played around with the color on the photos and Casey said “Wow! You’re going to be great at your new job. I can’t believe that I actually like the way I look in glasses. Thanks!”
“Your welcome.” I said as I looked up at the clock “I can’t believe that it’s past midnight. Sorry, but, I’ve got to get home. I still have a few things to pack.”
“Let me just fetch the parka and we’ll head out. I got it! You ready?”
The next twelve hours flew by. I had already slept, finished packing, called George to tell him the news, and had breakfast with Henri and JJ. Nervously, I was now was sitting on a Montreal bound plane ready to start everything new. JJ used his charm to upgrade my coach ticket to one in business class right next to him.
During the 90 minute flight, JJ gave me a crash course in the optical business. I learned about contact lenses, prescriptions, frames, lens materials, and more. JJ is such a good teacher. He told me that I was a good student and couldn't wait for me to start working. We agreed that tomorrow would be my first day. Before I knew it, we were landing at Dorval Airport.
George was waiting for me at the airport. He was sitting and talking with JJ's partner Claude and his son Jean-Luc. God, George looked so handsome in his new rimless glasses, which incidentally, he purchased from JJ's shop. Claude initiated their conversation by noticing that they had identical glasses. Once the name of the shop was mentioned, their converstaion flowed and flowed.
George hugged and kissed me as he never had before. JJ and Claude had a similar moment. I guess absence really does make the heart grow fonder. After the introductions had been made, JJ asked me if I wanted to see the optical shop. Off to the shop we went. JJ gave me a quick tour and quized me. I passed with flying colors.
Jean-Luc took a liking to George and me and asked Claude "Papa, could Chris and George come over for dinner?" Claude replied "That is up to them. Would you like to join us for dinner tonight?" I thanked Jean-Luc for his invite and asked if we could do it another night since we had already planned on spending our first night alone. He understood and said "OK Papa, then when?"
"How about Friday night?" Claude asked "It will be a nice ending to the work week and you, my son, can stay up late."
We all agreed on Friday. George and I left and went back to George's apartment, I mean OUR apartment, and made mad, passionate, love. George insisted on wearing his glasses the whole time. He has had two prescription changes since moving to Montreal and has become quite dependent on his glasses. I didn't mind the glasses during sex. In fact, I found them to be rather erotic - especially when he put them on my face and kissed me. For an instant I remembered the Casey kiss but knew I had to erase it from my mind.
At about 7PM I said to George: "Hey handsome, how about you and me have some dinner at the best restaurant in Montreal - my treat"
"Sure!" George said with a smile "I know just the place!"
We washed up and got ready for dinner. We strolled along Rue Sainte Catherine looking at the shops and bars as we walked to George's favorite restaurant. "I think you're going to like this place." George said "The food is great. The service is great. And it reminds of the bistro. The new manager even reminds me of your old boss Henri. Speaking of the devil.."
"Bonjour Monsieur George, table for two tonight?" Pierre asked.
"Yes Pierre. It will be a table for two from now on." George said "I would like you to meet Chris, the love of my life. Chris just moved here from New York City"
"Welcome to Montreal!" Pierre said "I am sure you will love it as much as I love New York City. My cousin Henri owns a bistro there. I go to visit him about once a year. New York is magnifique."
I couldn't believe what I had just heard. What were the odds of his Henri and mine being one in the same? I had to ask. "I was wondering, um, if by chance, your cousin Henri's last name is LaFleur."
Pierre lit up like a Christmas tree "YES! I can't believe that you know him."
"He's the best! I worked for Henri for five years." I said "He mentioned having cousins here, but never mentioned anyone in the restaurant industry."
"Actually, he doesn't know about this job. I just started here." Pierre said "If you worked for Henri for five years, you must be good. Are you looking for a job? We are hiring."
I thanked Pierre and told him about my job to which he replied: "I know Dr. Patel very well. He has been prescribing my glasses and contact lenses for years. He's a very nice man...Let me show you your table."
Dinner was wonderful and the waiter was so cute - spikey blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes. While we were having dessert, my cell phone rang. I recognized the incoming number - the bistro's - and figured it must be Lee or Casey.
"Bonjour!" I said as I answered it. "Bonjour Chris, I hope my cousin Pierre is taking good care of you." the voice on the other end said.
I replied: "Yes Henri, he is!...and let me tell you about the eye candy. I am sitting here with the most handsome man in Montreal and the waiter and manager are tied for second place."
Henri replied "I cannot speak for the waiter, but Pierre's good looks have broken a few hearts. That's for sure. I remember the day he switched from wearing spectacles to wearing the contact lenses. It is quite a funny story that you should ask him about when you get to know him better. I am laughing out loud just thinking about it."
"I definitely will... and Henri, thanks for everything you've done for me. Oh, George says hi, and is blowing you a kiss. Tomorrow's the big day. I start my new job. I'm so nervous."
"There is no need to be nervous." Henri assured me "You are wonderful. Jean-Jacques is wonderful. I am sure you will do great. Enjoy the rest of your dinner and we will talk soon. Yes?"
"OK Henri" I said "Say hello to everyone. I'll call you next weekend. B-bye"
As I flipped my phone closed, Pierre approached our table with a big smile "Sorry if I embarrassed you by having Henri call you"
"No, thanks for calling him. Henri's a sweetheart. He could never embarrass me."
"He said many good things about you also" Pierre said "How was everything?"
"Everything was perfect. Thanks." I said "I will take the check."
"Actually, there is no check." Pierre said "Henri has paid it."
"OK" I said with a laugh "Now I'm embarrassed. That Henri is too much."
"Yes he is" Pierre said "You should see how generous his tip was."
George, Pierre, and I had a good laugh. As we got up from the table, the waiter thanked us, wished us a good night, and asked if we needed him to call a cab for us.
George asked if I wanted to take a cab. I told him that I'd like to walk and so we did. After walking just a few blocks, I wished I had worn the parka that Casey gave me. Brrr! Montreal is cold. George put his arm around me to warm me up as he hailed a cab with his other hand. We were home in a few minutes and opened a bottle of champagne. George set the alarm for 6AM. I slept like a baby in his arms.
George wanted to be in the office for 7AM to get a head start on the week. I didn't have to be at the optical shop until 10AM but wanted to unpack a few things including the parka. I unzipped the parka's garment bag and tried the coat on. It fit perfectly. I loved all the pockets it had.
As I checked out the pockets I was surprised to find a ski lift pass in one pocket and a pair of sunglasses in another - both of which I placed on the kitchen table as I continued to check out the other pockets. I took off the coat and looked at the sunglasses which were no ordinary sunglasses. These were heavy duty prescription sunglasses. I tried them on and thought to myself "I bet these are Kim's" and decided to call Casey.
"Hi, this is Casey!"
"Casey, who's your favorite Canadian?" I asked
"No, guess again!"
"That guy from the Barenaked Ladies?"
"No, guess again."
"I didn't know Pamela Anderson was Canadian. No, it's me Chris" I said.
"I knew it was you" Casey said "What's up?"
"I'm starting my new job in a few hours and I was just unpacking a few things starting with that parka. Thanks! It fits perfectly. Just wanted to let you know that I found a pair of sunglasses in the pocket that I think are Kim's"
"Do they have blue lenses that are about 3/4" thick?" Casey asked
"Yes, that's them."
"That little shit!" Casey said laughing "I don't feel so bad now."
"Feel bad about what?" I asked
"Saturday night Kim got home at about 2AM and freaked out because you and I had played with those glasses and then I left them on my desk instead of on the sink. At least I fessed up to it." Casey said "I can't believe that, that little shit, wore my parka, without asking. It was probably to go skiing. I remember Kim losing those sunglasses a while ago...Chris, sorry to be rambling.."
"It's OK" I said "You're right about the skiing part - there was also a ski lift pass in one pocket. What should I do with the sunglasses?"
"I'm not sure yet" Casey replied "Hang on to them for now...Oh shit...I have another call coming through...can we talk this weekend?"
"Sure! Love you!" I said
"I turned on the stereo, put Kim's sunglasses on my face, and danced and spun around the apartment but soon got dizzy. I guess it was a combination of the glasses and the spinning.
Before long, I was walking out the door ready to start my new job. JJ and I arrived at the optical shop at the same time - 9:45AM.
"I'll brew some coffee." JJ said "Please wander around the shop, touch things, learn where everything is. Mondays are generally slow. Marie and Adonis will be here soon. Oops, I spoke too soon, there they are now."
"Bonjour!" Marie and Adonis said as they walked in.
"Chris, I would like you to meet Adonis our optician and technician who grinds the lenses; and Marie, who you will be replacing - not that anyone could ever replace her" JJ said as he introduced us. He then pointed to Marie's pregnant stomach and said "and these are the twins. Adonis and Marie met here. I was the bestman at their wedding and now I am going to be a godfather...I will finish making the coffee"
"Great JJ! I brought a little surprise to have with our coffee" Marie said as she unwrapped a plate "My sisters gave me a little baby shower yesterday and I brought some leftover cake. Chris, have you ever had Mille Feuilles?"
JJ and I laughed
"What is so funny?" Marie asked
"Not only is Mille Feuilles my favorite dessert but it is Chris' favorite also but in New York it is called Napoleon cake." JJ explained "Do you you feel at home yet, Chris?"
"Yes!" I said with a lump in my throat "Yes, I do"
After coffee, Marie showed me the computer system and Adonis showed me how to tighten eyeglass frames, check a prescription, and how to replace the nylon filament which holds lenses in rimless frames. In a few hours, the latter certainly came in handy with the first customer that I waited on alone. Until then, I pretty much observed Marie.
Since it was slower than a normally slow Monday, JJ told Adonis and Marie to have lunch together as he felt I could handle the shop for an hour. Besides, JJ was in his office, examining a patient and told me to knock on his door if I had any questions or problems. Adonis and Marie were not gone for more than 2 minutes when I got my first customer.
Two young man - about 19 years old - entered the shop. One of them was wearing glasses that had one lens being held in the frame with tape. His friend placed some money into his hand, kissed him, and said: "I'm really sorry. Are you going to be OK?" The man in the glasses seemed reluctant about taking the money but assured him that he was fine. His friend left.
Shyly the guy in the glasses approached me and said: "Hi, I am really embarrassed about this...but...as you can see, I broke my glasses..."
"Please have a seat" I said "There's nothing to be embarrassed about. Glasses break - may I see them..." I said as I lifted the glasses from his face "I'm going to remove the tape to inspect the damage...Are you OK?"
"I guess I'm kind of embarrassed about how it happened." He said
"I'm sorry if this is not my business, but did that boy break your glasses violently?" I asked
He smiled and said "No, I don't think he would hurt a fly. Last night was our third date - our fourth, if you count the night we met...the first few dates we just kissed goodnight. I really like him. Last night, I asked him to come back to my dorm - if you know what I mean. We were undressing and when he took my t-shirt off, my glasses flew off, fell on the floor, and broke. He feels really bad and gave me money to buy new ones but I know it wasn't his fault."
"There's no damage to the lens, I can repair these for you in a few minutes" I said
"Really!" he said "That's great! I don't have another pair here at school."
"I'll be right back" I said as I walked to Adonis' workbench and replaced the nylon filament. Two minutes later I was placing the glasses on his face. "Here they are. Good as new. Are you still emabarrassed?"
"Only about how much I need my glasses to see" He said "I really like this boy and don't want him to not like me if he finds out how much I really need glasses. I'm glad they broke in my dorm where I know my way around."
"Has he ever asked you not to wear your glasses?" "No."
"Has he ever taken them away from you?" "No."
"Does he take them off you when you kiss?"
"No. I think he likes the way they rub against his face."
"Has he ever suggested that you should wear contacts?"
"Did he feel bad about them breaking?"
"I don't think you have to worry. I think he likes you - glasses and all." I said. I then asked "May I see your glasses again? I want to check your prescription" I checked it and when I returned told him "With your prescription I would recommend having a back up pair. Can I show you the perfect frame for you?"
"Sure" he said
"Check these out" I said as I twisted a pair of frames in my hand "These are virtually indestructable. Athletes love them. Dads with small children love them."
"Do sexually active college guys love them?" he asked, with a smile, as he tried on the frame "How do they look, I can't really tell."
I said "Let me put it this way - your boyfriend may not be able to wait until he gets to the dorm room. They look really nice"
"Great! I'll take them" He said.
"The man who grinds the lenses is at lunch" I said "but I can have these for you in about 2 hours." We finished filling out the paperwork and he paid me. My first sale. I felt pretty good.
Shortly after he left, JJ and his patient exited the office. "John, this is Chris who will be helping you. You are in very good hands. Chris, here are John's glasses and contact prescriptions. I'll be in my office, if you have any questions. By the way, John already has a frame with him."
I looked at the prescriptions, noticed a discrepancy, and before JJ was in his office I said to him "I think one of these might be wrong. The contact lenses are plus and the glasses prescription calls for minus"
"Actually the prescriptions are correct." JJ replied "I'm sorry for not explaining it. John is an actor and is going to be playing the role of American writer Stephen King in a film. The plus contacts will make John's vision extremely shortsighted and the minus glasses will correct it and look more realistic than phoney glasses you see in the movies. Anyone who has ever seen Stephen King knows that his glasses are quite strong"
"They certainly are" I said "Is -12 really his prescription?"
John replied "We are not 100 percent sure. Mr. King has been very supportive of this project but does not like to talk about his vision. He would not tell us his actual prescription but asked that the actor playing him - that's me - not wear fake looking glasses. Dr Patel guestimated on the prescription based on photos."
JJ excused himself and said "Chris, if you haven't made lunch plans yet, would you like to join my friend CC and me? CC should be on her way. By the time you finish up with John, Marie and Adonis should be here too.
I accepted JJ's lunch invite and told him that I would let him know when his friend arrived.
"John, why don't you have a seat and pull out the frames while I fetch the contacts." I returned with the contacts and told him "I have some clear ones but will have to order the blue-grey lenses. Will clear lenses work for your rehearsals until the colored ones come in?"
"They'll be fine" John said "We don't start filming for another three weeks and like all the roles I play, I am planning to totally emerse myself in this one. I'm planning to wear the contacts and glasses 24/7 from now until the completion of the film."
"Really?" I asked "That's what I call acting. Dr. Patel has recommended CR39 plastic as the lens material. The lenses in this big frame will be quite thick. Have you considered a smaller, more stylish frame for everyday wear while you are off the set?"
John thought that was a great idea and said "This film has a really big budget. I know that the producers will not mind if I get a few pairs of glasses. Sure let's look at frames."
"I have an idea." I said "How about if I pick out a stylish frame for you and then you put the contacts in and pick out another frame from the perspective of having broken your glasses and had to pick a new pair without correction."
"I like the way you think Chris." He replied "This is the first time I have ever had fun at the doctors"
In about ten minutes, we had selected the frames and completed the paperwork. While John removed his contacts, I told him that I could have all three pairs of glasses by 5PM. He told me to expect him at 5:01.
As John left, he held the door open for a pretty lady who was entering the store carrying two gift bags. She looked familiar but I figured she just have been someone that George and I passed by last night.
"Bonjour. I am here to meet with Jean-Jacques." she said
"You must be CC. He is expecting you. By the way, I'm Chris"
"It's a pleasure to meet you." she said "There is no need to rush the doctor. Is Marie here? I have some presents for her babies"
"She's due back anytime now." I said as I opened the door and shouted to Marie and Adonis who were crossing the street "Hey you two! Hurry up! There's someone here bearing gifts"
Adonis and Marie ran into the shop and hugged and kissed CC.
"Marie! Adonis! Congratulations! When are you due?" CC asked
"Six more weeks." Marie replied "How are you? How is Rene? How is the baby?"
"Rene is so healthy, thank God." CC said "And the baby...Oh my God...Rene-Charles is now 3 and can outrun me. I think he's going to be a track star. Oh, by the way, these are for you. They are blankets. My mother knitted them for you. And I made you a CD of lullabys."
Marie cried. "You're so thoughful. Thanks!"
"You're very welcome." CC said.
JJ emerged from his office, hugged, and kissed CC and said "I have asked Chris to join us. I hope you are both hungry. Are you ready Chris?"
"Just let me give these to Adonis." I said as I handed him the orders.
"YOU SOLD FOUR PAIRS OF GLASSES IN ONE HOUR?" Adonis asked in astonishment
"Yes, but it was only to two customers" I said.
"Well done Chris." Marie said "Enjoy your lunch. All that selling must have made you hungry."
CC, JJ, and I left and walked to a cute Italian restaurant two doors down from the shop. The food was simple but good. We had a wonderful time despite the few stares from other customers. As we were leaving the restaurant, the young man who had broken his glasses walked by enroute to the shop and stopped when he saw me.
"Hi! I hope my glasses are ready." he said
I told CC how nice it was to meet her and excused myself as I walked to the shop with my young customer. JJ walked CC to her car.
"Please have a seat. I will check on your glasses. Here they are." I said as I twisted them in half to show him their durability. "Let me take those off....and place these on...they look great! How do they feel?"
He looked in the mirror and said "They feel as good as they look. Thanks for recommending them"
"Your welcome" I said "Let me just polish them up for you and get you a hard case...Here you go. Thank you for your business and please don't hesitate to stop by if you need an adjustment or anything else."
Marie told me that while I was at lunch she had received a delivery of contact lenses and wanted to unpack them and restock them in the back room. She asked me to "mind the store" and to keep up the good work.
A few minutes later JJ came in smiling and gave Adonis and me each an envelope and said "CC would like us all to be her guests for the Juno Awards, Chris that is our version of your Grammy Awards"
"That's why she looked so familiar" I said "It's all coming back to me now - no pun intended...CC is Celine Dion..How do you know her?"
"Her husband Rene was my manager years ago when I was considering a music career" JJ said "we have been friends for over 25 years"
I thanked JJ as he walked toward the door to hold it open for a customer in a wheel chair who was approaching the shop. "Thanks Dr. Patel" the man said as he rolled in. He pushed his glasses up using his shoulder and said "I hope you can give these glasses an adjustment. They keep sliding down my nose."
"I will leave Chris to help you with that." JJ said "Please say hello to your dad for me."
"Let me move this chair so you can roll yourself in" I said and then reached over and felt behind his ears. "These temples seem to be the right length." I said as I removed his glasses "Wow! These are heavy. I think the lenses are glass. That weighs them down too and your nose is really red from the weight. Let me tighten them. I'll be right back"
I returned a few minutes later and placed the glasses on his face and said "Much better. But I don't think this adjustment is going to last too long. My suggestion would be to have lighter weight plastic lenses and cable temples."
"Do you have some that you can show me?" he asked
"Sure!" I said "I'll be right back with a few...what do you think of these three?"
He tried on the smallest pair and brought his face to within a couple of inches from the mirror and said "I like these. They look good and they fit nice and tight"
I felt behind the ears and also tugged on them "These are not going anywhere...and the lens size is small enough that they will be fairly thin and light. Should I have them made up?"
"Please do." He said "Do you think that they will be ready today? I have some other errands to run in the neighborhood."
I checked with Adonis who was finishing up the last of John's three pairs. He told me that he could have them ready at 4PM. The customer was happy and agreed to come back then. I held the door open for him as he left.
Just then, the cute waiter from last night walked in. "Bonjour!" I said with a big smile.
"Hi." he said rather aloofly
"You don't remember me, do you? I asked
"Sorry. But no, I don't" he replied
"You were my waiter last night. My boyfriend and I had dinner, remember?"
He smiled and said "I'm sorry...that was my brother Gunnar, he's the waiter...we're identical twins. My name is Guillermo"
"I'm Chris" I said "Gunnar and Guillermo are an uncommon pairing of names, huh?"
"That's what happens when you're born to an Ecuadorian father and a Swedish mother" He chuckled
"It's a combination that works" I said "You're both very handsome but I'm sure you didn't come here to hear that. What can I do for you today."
"Thank you." he blushed "I need some contacts but I forgot to bring my prescription. Doctor Patel should have it on file"
He gave me his last name and I pulled out both his and his brother's files.
"I've got the prescription" I said "Both of your eyes are the same prescription -6.25 with no astigmatism. How many lenses do you want? I can give you a better price if you buy them in multiples of 6"
"I'll take 12 lenses." he said
I asked "Does your brother need any lenses today?"
"We live together. He can have some of these. His prescription is the same as mine"
I looked at Gunnar's file and said "Wow! You're right. How about your glasses? Can I show you any frames today? We just got some beautiful frames from an up and coming new designer. I have a pair the exact color of your eyes...Let me show you...here"
Guillermo put them on, looked in the mirror, and said "You know, it's funny to see myself in glasses, but these are really nice. What do you think, Chris?"
I told him "I'm not just saying this to make a sale, but they look like they were designed just for you."
"At the risk of sounding like the shallow and conceited 21 year old that I am, I agree. I'll take them. Will I need an exam?"
"No." I said "Dr. Patel always does both exams for contacts and for glasses. Your last exam is current. It was just two months ago. I have your glasses prescription right here. It's -7 with no astigmatism" I looked at the clock and said "I'll have to check with my lab technician but I don't think I can have these for you tonight. Will that be a problem?"
"There's no rush. I haven't had glasses since I was 16. Gunnar and I begged our parents for contacts and for our birthday, they finally gave in. I'll be in this neighborhood again on Friday when I have to go to work. I can pick the glasses up then."
"What kind of work do you do?" I asked
With a bit of hesitation he said "Well, I'm a dancer, at a bar here in the Gay Village. Basically, I'm a stripper. I take my clothes off for men. Funny thing is - I'm straight. I used to dance on the other side of Sainte Catherine for women until one of my friends at university told me that gay men are better tippers. I keep telling my brother to join us but he feels funny about the idea. I make more money on my one night dancing than he does working four nights as a waiter."
"Sounds like a fun job...but, getting back to your glasses" I said "If you want to pick them up on Friday, that will be fine but they'll be ready by late tomorrow morning."
"When you see your brother, tell him that the two customers who talked with Pierre alot, say hi."
"OK. I will. Thanks for all your help." He said and left
I took the frame and prescription to Adonis who said "You are one selling machine. Are you sure you haven't done this before?"
"Never. I swear to God" I replied "I'm just using the same upselling principals that I used when serving food. At the bistro I always sold more appetizers, desserts, and after dinner drinks than the others."
"Well, you're doing great" Adonis said
"Adonis, thanks for the encouragement. I've got to go" I said as I saw the man in the wheelchair returning "I'll take these." I picked up his finished glasses.
"I hope you finished your errands" I said "You certainly have enough bags"
"Yes, I bought everything I need for the Montreal Marathon." he said "It's many months away but I'm training for it. My specially designed wheelchair should be ready this week. I am really psyched."
I removed his glasses and placed the new cable temple pair on him. "Now you have one more thing to be psyched about." I said "These should stay in place for the whole race."
He shook his head and said "Thanks. These fit really well. They're even going to stay on when I sleep."
I was confused by this statement and asked him what he meant.
"Because my eyes are so bad, I even sleep in my glasses. I started doing this years ago, before my accident" he explained "When I was a teenager, I would sleep in my glasses if I stayed at a friend's house. Then I started doing it at home."
"Do they ever fall off during the night when you switch sleep positions?" I asked
"Very rarely." He said "They used to fall off more often but since my accident, I can't change sleep positions like I used to." He smiled and continued "But a few weeks ago, something funny happened. I was over my trainer's house. We had a few drinks to celebrate my marathon decision. I slept on his couch. I woke up when the rising sun hit my face. It felt good but I was not really sure where I was and my glasses were not on my face. I felt around and couldn't find them. I panicked a little. My wheelchair was right next to the couch but I didn't want to take the chance of getting in it and possibly running over the glasses if they were on the floor. My friend was sleeping in his room. It took a while for him to hear my calls. Finally he ran in. He thought that I had hurt myself. I asked him to help me find my glasses. He picked them up off the coffee table that had been moved across the room to make room for my wheel chair."
He continued to explain how his trainer had taken his glasses off his face for fear that they would get broken.
"He asked me if he could try on my glasses" He said "Only after he tried them on, did he realize how strong they were. He appologized and promised never to take them off my face again. I forgave him."
"That's a great story." I said. I then asked if he needed anything else before we completed our transaction.
The phone rang. Marie answered it in the back room and paged me: "Chris, you have a call on line 2."
"Bonjour, this is Chris" I said expecting it to be George
"Hi Chris, it's John - the Stephen King actor, how are you?" the voice on the other end said
"I'm fine and if you're checking on your glasses, they are ready." I said
"Actually my agent just called me about an audition for a beer commercial. Sorry. Can I come by tomorrow morning instead?" He asked
"No problem." I said "We open at 10AM, come by anytime and good luck."
"You mean 'Break a leg'!" He exclaimed
"Excuse me?" I asked
"Break a leg. It means good luck to an actor." he explained.
"OK John, I'll see you tomorrow, break a leg!"
The rest of the day flew by as I unpacked the new frames that JJ had brought from New York. Before I knew it, we were closing up shop for the night.
TO BE CONTINUED
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