Just a cute lil story

When you're 20 years old, and shy, and more or less a nobody socially, there are other options - you amuse yourself. Life isn't all about fancy cars, clubs, and the latest fashion. Luis lived alone, worked for minimum wage in a warehouse and had never had a girlfriend, but he was far from unhappy. He cooked delicious food for himself, read a lot, played old video games, hugged his cat, and walked along the beach picking up interesting rocks. If you ran into him, perhaps if he held a door open for you, you'd be sure to get a warm smile. He was a nice guy.

One ordinary Thursday, after work, he took the long way home and went into a thrift store he often frequented. That was where he bought most of his clothes, and he was looking for workboots, which were surprisingly easy to find virtually unworn for a fraction of what his colleagues would pay for them. Today he was unlucky, but he never waited until he was desperate, he'd keep coming by until he found some, and besides, he wanted to talk to the elderly lady, Philys, who volunteered in there. He had to wait a bit, while she served another customer, so he browsed through the shelves near the counter. These were a real mix of odds and ends that fell into no real category. Among them were a pair of glasses. Luis picked them up, tried them on and pulled a face at himself in the mirror. To his astonishment his reflection was clearer than usual, and he put them on and took them off several times to see the difference. He was so absorbed with this that he didn't realize Philys was watching him laughing. "Yes, they look great on you Luis, make you look like a professor!". He quickly put them down, but looked longingly after them, and was quite distracted during their chat. It was all he could do to leave the store without buying the glasses, but he knew it was a bad idea to wear somebody else's old glasses. Trouble was, he also suspected he couldn't afford any of his own. This was confirmed when he made a few enquiries.

He went back to the thrift store when he knew Phylis wasn't there. The quiet boy serving wouldn't know him, and he could say he was buying them for a costume party or a joke. Then he wouldn't feel so awkward about it. He didn't know why he felt a need to be ashamed, but there was no way he could have bought them from Phylis. She knew him too well for that excuse to hold water, and she'd be sure to scold him. But most of all he was worried she'd offer to pay for him to get some glasses properly prescribed, and he couldn't have that. Shopping in a charity store was one thing, but to accept charity, even if it were a loan, was something he could never do.

To his utter disappointment when he got to the store the glasses were gone. The quiet boy stared at him as he searched frantically through the odds and end shelves, but Luis didn't dare ask. He walked home slowly and for the first time in a long time he actually felt sad.

Never one to give up, Luis spend all his Saturdays scouring all the charity and second-hand shops he could find. He walked for miles, right over to the other end of the city. He did find a few pairs of glasses here and there, but none of them were right for him. Being Luis, he didn't get despondant. He kept on trying. Week after week, month after month, all the time meanwhile putting what little spare cash he had away in a jar for the optometrist, maybe, one day.

Of course as time wore on he became more aware that he really needed glasses to help him see. He hadn't realized it until he tried on those thrift store glasses that the way the world looked to him wasn't right, but it had never been a big deal. He had never owned a car, never had any real need to see any better than he did. But recently he'd found a few times when it had been a problem. At work, they'd shown a training video, and he'd not been able to get close enough to see it properly, and he lost marks on the quiz afterwards, and probably missed a promotion as a result. Then he'd missed the last bus home after working late because he mis-read the number on the front. And he just got the feeling that really, thinking about it, signs were supposed to be readable.

But it wasn't just that. Some new interest had arrived inside him, only it was more than just a passing interest. He found himself looking at everyone who wore glasses, watching their habits, seeing the ways the lenses varied, and most of all, thinking how much he liked them. He desperatately wanted some of his own, not just to see better, but so he could be as interesting as the other glasses-wearers. As each day went by he felt a stronger and stronger desire, until it became an obsession. Most of all he wanted to tell someone, but he wasn't sure who he could talk to. After all, his only real friend in the world was Phylis, and she was more of a mother-figure than anything.

So he went into the library and had a look on the Internet. Several searches brought up nothing but expensive designer frames sites, then among all the extraneous stuff was a chat room for glasses lovers.

Knowing he only had an hour, well, less than an hour now, he dived right in. Even with the anonymity of a blank screen he couldn't bring himself to use his real name, so he used a different one - his cat's name. And he began.........

"Hi. I think I need glasses...well, I know I do, but most of all I really want them. Is that weird?"

Two other chatters quickly encouraged him. No, they said, many other people feel the same way, in fact some people wear glasses stronger than they need to to try to make their eyes worsen. There were all sorts of other words of support, and when his time was up Luis felt that he knew so much more, things that ordinary people didn't know, and was part of a secret community. It was a delicious feeling.

Leaving the library he took a different route home, and passed a charity shop he'd never seen before. There, right in the window were a pair of glasses. He went straight in, feeling quite empowered by his online conversation, and tried them on. They felt a little strong, but he could see better - very clearly in fact, and he was sure from what he'd heard in the chat room that the worst thing that could happen from glasses just a little too strong, was that his eyes would simply adjust to them. Fantastic! He handed over $2 to the clerk, muttering something vaguely about Halloween, and walked out smiling.

But them a funny thing happened. As much as he wanted to wear them, now he felt awkward about doing it. The glasses he bought looked quite normal, reasonably contemorary, a good fit, nothing to alert anyone where he'd obtainedthem from. And nobody knew him. So why couldn't he wear them in the street? He rushed home and put them on. His apartment looked different. Things looked very slightly smaller, but very sharp, and he loved it. He loved the feel of them on his face, especially after they warmed up. He cleaned them very carefully and tightened the screws. And over and over he just looked at them, with a wonderful warm feeling in his heart. Then he remembered how scared he was to wear them outside and a black cloud came over him.

The next morning Luis went to work and determinedly carried his glasses in his pocket. He would put them on when he got to work he decided, very casually as if he'd been doing it all his life. But when the time came, his courage defeated him. All day he thought about how much nicer it would be to see things sharp and clear like at home, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. When he got home he put them on straight away, and was furious with himself for his cowardice, but at least he could watch the street out the window better now.

Each day he carried his glasses in his pocket, and it felt good to know they were there. Each evening he came home, put them on and enjoyed the better view. Weeks went by, even months, and of course he became more and more conscious of how much he was missing by day. He was sure in fact that his eyes were getting a bit worse. The glasses no longer felt too strong when he put them on, they felt just right. He had to get past his issues with wearing them, he needed to wear them now, really needed to.

It was Saturday and his day off. He couldn't bring himself to leave his building with his glasses on, but once in the mall he slipped into the men's bathroom and put them on, then summoning everything he had he walked out into the mass of shoppers and a beautiful crystal clear view. How fantastic a shopping mall looks in perfect focus. How easy to read the signs, see the window displays, and watch the pretty girls. Luis felt like a new man, and found that instead of feeling self-conscious he felt at his very best.

All these strange faces, most not making eye contact, just a few looking quickly at him as they avoided collision in the crowds, nobody knowing he had never done this before - he decided life was great and he was a fool.......everything would be fine. He even wore them home, not caring if neighbors noticed. Nobody was around. He was free of his fears.

Until monday morning that is. Terror struck him as he opened the door.......But he stuck to his guns, walked very confidently to walk in his glasses, sweating a bit, and feeling quite nervous, but managing to enter the warehouse with his head held high....he prepared himself for funny looks, comments - maybe even unkind ones, perhaps jokes.......but nobody noticed. Not one person took a second look at him. Even his foreman, bringing him instructions didn't miss a beat as he talked to him. Luis couldn't decide which was worse, the fear of reactions or lack of it. Were they being kind or was he so insignificant nobody ever really looked at him?

The day went OK, he found he worked a lot more efficiently being able to see properly, but by the time he left that evening he felt decidedly down. His head wasn't held high as he went out, he was in his own little world. So much for being interesting. He didn't even notice a figure catching up with him and walking beside him, doing a double-take.


He looked up. It was Chelsea, from the office. He didn't even know she knew his name. He knew hers, oh yes, he knew hers. She was smiling at him.

"Hi," he said, breathlessly, totally forgetting everything with the shock of her greeting.

"Oh my God you look so cute in glasses, when did you get them?"

Now he was speechless, totally lost for words. Several possible answers ran through his head, but nothing seemed to work, and she filled in the awful silence.

"They're new, right? And you're a bit shy? Don't worry, they look great!"

Still lost for words but overwhelmingly delighted, he smiled at her broadly, and now she was the one with nothing to say.

They stood and looked at each other for a while, and both laughed awkwardly. Then Luis did something he had NEVER done before............

"I, um, do you like home-cooked food? I'm not much into eating out, but if you'd like supper?........"

"Yes," she said "That would be nice."