MEASURE FOR MEASURE

by Julian

Another addition to the Shakespeare corpus

Hi, I’m Simon and I’m going to keep a kind of diary. I’m 14 and I do not too badly at school. I live with my mum who’s a bit strict but OK on the whole. She’s a dentist and so is my dad. I see him most Saturdays (not Sundays like most people I know whose fathers don’t live with them). He doesn’t come to our house; I nearly always meet him and we go off wherever we’re going—he doesn’t have a car so we generally go by bus or sometimes train. We never go to his house either, and I don’t actually know where he lives. He has a mobile phone and I ring him up on that, or he rings me. I really enjoy the time I spend with him. Sometimes I think I might be gay; my best mate is called Steve; we’ve been friends ever since nursery school. Mostly we sit together in class, usually at the front. I don’t have a girl friend and neither does Steve; when the other guys in our class talk about girls and what they do with them (or maybe it’s what they'd like to do with them) all I can think about is how good Steve looks when we're in the showers after rugby. He has black hair and brown eyes with long lashes, and his legs and chest are getting quite hairy too. When he looks at me he half-closes his eyes and his old man twitches a bit—I think he likes me too. When I jerk off I think about Steve’s eyelashes and all that lovely black hair. I reckon I am gay, but I’m not worried—maybe it’s just a phase like they say guys go through.

2000

Wednesday 15 March

Funny thing: Steve sometimes copies my notes instead of reading what’s on the board; no problem of course, but today in the French class we were sitting farther back than usual, and he got all the stuff from my book instead of the board. I wonder why.

Tuesday 2 May

Steve has got glasses! I wasn’t looking when he came into class this morning, but he sat down in the other half of the double desk we share and said, “Well, what do you think?” I looked up and he was smiling at me through them. I said, “Hey, cool! When did you get those?” He explained he had an eye test and he’s short-sighted. He got the glasses last Friday after school and they help him to see things in the distance. The reason he often copied my notes was that he couldn’t read the writing on the board—but not any more. Glasses really suit him too. It isn’t just that they look good on his face; when I think about it he used to screw up his eyes and squint a lot, and he isn’t doing that any more. I kept looking at them; the round black frames really suit him, and everything looks a bit smaller through the lenses. At break time he let everybody try them on that wanted to, and when it was my turn I was amazed how clear everything was. I didn’t say anything then, but when we were getting ready to go home I said, “Hey Steve, can I try your glasses again? Everything looked really clear when I tried them on before.” He handed them over and watched me put them on. I looked through them, and over them, and through them again, and over them again. It isn’t that I can’t see without them, I can, I can read the board OK and all that, but when I look through them everything is really, really sharp and clear. I explained this to Steve, and he said, “Maybe you’re getting short-sighted too. If you get your eyes tested you might get specs of your own—it would be nice not to be the only one in the class. Besides” (he blushed a bit) “I like the way you look in them.” I felt myself colour up too, and I said, “You look pretty good in them too.” As I gave them back our hands touched and it was like an electric shock; he blushed again and I guess I did too, and when he put them on and looked at me through them I got this weird feeling in my stomach. We headed for our homes.

At tea time I started to tell Mum. “Hey Mum,” I said, “my friend Steve has got glasses; when I tried them on everything was really clear and Steve says maybe I need them too. Can I go for a test and see?” I wasn’t ready for the answer I got. “You will do nothing of the kind,” said Mum. “You don’t need glasses, and you’re not going for any test. What do you want to go trying on other folk’s glasses for?” I tried to explain, but all I got was “Don’t answer back!” Seems like a son with specs is a no-no; just hope my eyes don’t get really bad.

Tuesday 12 September

Back to school today. If my eyes weren’t bad last term they are now; back then the writing on the board was clear though it was better with Steve’s glasses—now the writing is definitely blurred, but I can still read nearly all of it if I screw my eyes up (like Steve used to!) Steve could see I was getting problems and whispered, “Hey Simon, you’re in a bad way! haven’t you done anything about getting specs?” “No; I spoke to my mum about it and she wouldn’t hear of it, but it’s getting bad now. I’ll have another try.” “OK then, you’d better copy my notes for now.” Like that, I managed not too badly. Steve is a real good friend. Good looking too, and extra good looking since he got those specs.

At tea time I tried again. “My eyes are getting worse, I can hardly read what’s on the blackboard. I’m sure I need glasses...” “Look, will you stop this nonsense! I’ve told you once, you do not need glasses, you are not going to wear glasses, you are not going to any optician!” “But—” “Will you be quiet? You may be nearly fifteen, but you’re not too big for a thrashing!” I let it drop, but I don’t understand what’s wrong with needing glasses.

Saturday 16 September

Good day out with Dad. Had a good time. At lunch I said to him, “Dad, I’m sure I need glasses. Everything in the distance is blurry. My friend Steve is short-sighted and I can see a lot better with his glasses, but Mum gets really uptight when I say anything.” Dad looked a bit embarrassed but all he said was “I’m sure your Mum knows best, son.” We went to see a film; it would have been even better if the screen had been clearer, but I could see enough to enjoy it. When we came out I said, “Hey Dad, that was a great film but I wish I could see better. Why can’t I get glasses?” “I’m sorry, Simon,” he said, “but your mother’s in charge, and there’s no more to be said.” Funny how Dad never comes to our house and I never go to his.

2001

Tuesday 13 February

I mostly manage pretty well squinting at the board or copying notes from Steve’s book, but this afternoon in English there was a picture up on the screen that we were supposed to look at and then write a story. I squinted really hard to try and see it but I couldn’t make sense of it. Steve was writing away nineteen to the dozen and I was getting nowhere. Eventually I had a brainwave: I muttered “Hey Steve, can I borrow your glasses for a minute?” “Sure!” he answered, and passed them over. When I put them on everything was as clear as could be; I was able to make sense of the picture, got an idea for my story and started writing, without Steve’s specs of course. I left them on the desk between us so either of us could take another look if we needed to; but we were both fine writing without them. Seeing close up is no problem; it’s distances...

Friday 4 May

Steve wanted to talk this morning at break time so we went to the cloakroom. He said, “Hey, listen. I had my eyes checked yesterday and I need new glasses; they’ll be ready in a day or two, so do you want these?” I didn’t say anything, I couldn’t. He tried again. “Only, if your mum won’t let you get specs...and your eyes are really bad now, aren’t they...” I still couldn’t speak, I squeezed his hand, we both went blood red and it was his turn not to be able to speak. I managed to say, “Thanks, that’ll be great. You’re a real good friend.” “Oh shucks, you’re my best mate and you have this problem, I know what it’s like, I’ve been there...”

Tuesday 8 May

Steve was wearing his new glasses this morning and he looks really good in them; black frames again, but kind of oblong, he says they’re called semi-rimless. When he came in he said, “How do you like these then?” “I said, “Hey, they look great, you’re better looking than ever!” He blushed a bit again and pressed my hand under the desk. “I’ve got the old ones in my locker; we’ll go down and get them after school; do you want to try these?” Everything was very clear, but they’re kind of strong for me. It’ll be great when I can wear the others. I’ve borrowed them a good few times so I know I can see pretty well with them.

At four o’clock we went down to the locker room. There was nobody else around and Steve fished the round specs out of his locker, opened the case and put them on me. I looked round and everything was lovely. Steve said in a choked kind of voice, “Who’s a sexy spexy boy then?” put his arms round me and gave me a long kiss; I started to get light-headed and there was a big excitement down below, specially when he started to unzip my fly—but then we heard something and jumped apart. I had to go into the bog and jerk off before I could go home. Not much doubt though: I am gay—and so is Steve. Come to think of it, if I liked girls I could be marrying one in a few more weeks.

Monday 14 May

It’s really great being able to see so well in class and around school. I’ve been wearing the glasses all day in school and then putting them away in my locker. Only trouble is, after I’ve worn them all day it’s not much fun going home without them. I’m glad it’s walking distance, ’cause I can’t see where a bus is going till it’s right at the stop. And watching TV is a waste of time (not that I like the channels Mum watches) so I concentrate on the computer instead; at least I can see that. So far. But the exciting thing is that this afternoon Steve and I arrived at the locker room together. That’s when I discovered how much better a duet is than a solo.

Tuesday 11 September

Back to school today...and back to being able to see what's going on around me thanks to Steve's glasses—it's been no fun living in a blur all summer I can tell you. But when I look out of the window the far end of the school grounds isn't as clear as it used to be...

At lunch time Steve said, “Hey, do you ever watch ‘Yesterday never comes’ on Channel 4?” “Never heard of it,” I said. “Only I think you'd like it. There's a real good-looking character in it; he looks a lot like you actually, only he wears really thick glasses. And he’s, uh, gay.” “Sounds good,” I said. “When is it on?” “Half past eight tonight.” “Right. I’ll see if I can watch it.”

(That evening) No luck with the soap. I don’t watch much TV as a rule—well, what’s the point when the screen is a blur? but I went in just after eight and sat as close to the set as I could, and I was hoping I might get to see something. But when it came to half past eight Mum switched to another channel. There’s no point in arguing.

Wednesday 12 September

Steve wanted to know what I thought of ‘Yesterday never comes’ but I had to tell him I didn’t get to watch it.

Tuesday 18 September

I was tuned in to Channel 4 again but when ‘Yesterday never comes’ was announced Mum said, “Oh, not that rubbish!” and switched off. I didn’t say anything.

Wednesday 19 September

Steve’s invited me to his house next Tuesday, so I’ll get to see it.

Tuesday 25 September

At afternoon break Steve said, “Give me your glasses after school; that way I can take them home and you’ll have them to watch the TV.” I was so pleased, I wanted to kiss him, but it was too public; I just squeezed his hand. Later on, maybe...

(Later) What an evening! I really enjoyed seeing the telly properly—the first time in ages. When the gay character Steve was talking about came on, I was gobsmacked—if he had black hair he’d be the dead spit of my dad. His specs were really, really thick though. Steve put his arm round me and said, “See what I mean? isn't he like you?” and started running his other hand along my thigh. I kept him at bay till the programme ended (his folks had gone out) and watched the credits. When I saw the name I said, “Hey! that guy's called Philip Macbeth: my dad’s Victor Macbeth!” But by that time Steve was more interested in getting inside my jeans—and I wasn’t about to stop him.

Saturday 28 September

Wanted to ask Dad about Philip Macbeth but chickened out. We went to the pictures. These days Dad always goes for front seats. That way I can see a bit better what’s on the screen.

Monday 8 October

We have drama homework to do in pairs. Steve and I are working together (of course!) and his mum has invited me to tea tomorrow. So I’ll go straight from school to his place, get the work done, and see ‘Yesterday never comes’ before I go home.

Tuesday 9 October

When school finished I took off ‘my’ glasses as usual and was putting them away, but Steve said, “What are you doing? You can keep them on.” “Gosh, so I can,” I said, took them out and put them back on—I was a bit nervous, it was the first time I’d worn glasses out of doors. But what an experience it was, walking along the street, seeing where I was going, seeing people’s faces, seeing the bus numbers, seeing the leaves on the trees...instead of everything more than a couple of feet away blurring up, I could see nearly everything (not quite). We got the work done and then enjoyed the drama of the soap. Philip Macbeth is a super actor—and very funny. I said to Steve, “You’d think he really was gay.” “Well, so he is,” said Steve. “Or so they say.” Walking home without glasses wasn’t so easy after wearing them all day. Everything seemed blurrier than ever.

Have I got a famous gay uncle? I must ask Dad, I really must.

Saturday 13 October

I surprised myself today. At lunch I heard myself say, “Philip Macbeth, the actor. My friend Steve says he looks like me, and I think he looks like you. Is he any relation?” Dad looked surprised. “Yes, of course, he’s my brother—your Uncle Philip, he’s your godfather. I thought you knew—but then I suppose you wouldn’t if I didn’t tell you.” “He is like you, isn’t he? Just the different coloured hair and the thick glasses—does he wear those in real life?” “Oh yes, Phil’s very short-sighted, and he can’t wear contact lenses. He had a lot of trouble till the TV people agreed to let him wear his glasses on set—they nearly wrote him out but he was too popular.” “I’ve heard he’s gay in real life too—is that true?” “Well, yes, he doesn’t make any secret of it.” “Can I get to meet him sometime?” “Well, maybe. I’ll have to see what I can fix up.”

2002

Wednesday 17 April

My eyes are still getting worse. Even with Steve’s old glasses the board isn’t clear any more (I found the other day that it helps if I tilt the specs up, and I’m doing that a lot of the time). Never mind, he must be nearly due for another test, so maybe he’ll need stronger ones again and I might get to use the ones he’s wearing now. I know he’ll do anything for me...

Wednesday 8 May

At break time this morning Steve said, “You need stronger specs than those old ones of mine, don’t you?” What could I say? “Seems like it.” “Well, I’ve got bad news. At least it’s good news for me I guess; but I had my eye test yesterday and my eyes aren’t any worse, so I get to keep these specs another year. Like I say, that’s fine for me, but if it had been different, you could have had these...” “Yeah, well, I’m pleased for your sake. It doesn’t help me of course, but my problem isn’t yours.” “No, but listen, I have an idea. Did you know eye tests are free as long as we’re in school? Why don’t you just go and have a test; surely to goodness when you show your mum the prescription she’ll see that you really do need specs.” I wasn’t so sure: “Maybe, but my Mum seems to have a real thing against me getting glasses. I’ve tried a few times to talk to her; she always changes the subject and if I persist she gets mad.” “Maybe she thinks you’re just fooling around. If you show her a real prescription she’ll have to admit your eyes are bad—’cause they are, aren’t they?” “Well yes, of course they are, but...” “No buts. Let me take you where I go, you’ve nothing to lose.” “Well, let me think about it.” I’d love to get glasses of my own and be able to see really well, but what would Mum say? What would she do?

Friday 10 May

When I got into school this morning Steve was waiting for me in the locker room when I went to get my (really his old) glasses. “Right!” he said. “I’m taking you for an eye test after school this afternoon. I called in yesterday and explained; you won’t have to buy specs, but they’ll give you your prescription and then your mother’ll have to admit you need them.” Doesn’t look as if I have much choice, but Steve doesn’t know my Mum—really know her I mean.

(Later) Well, after school Steve marched me, not to a shop as I expected, but to a building with a sign so big I could actually read it from across the street: it said ‘School of Optometry’. He explained to the receptionist that I was the friend he’d booked in yesterday, and that he was coming in with me when I had my test. We sat for a few minutes, and then a young man in a white jacket came out to us. He wore glasses with round gold frames, with thick lenses that magnified his blue eyes. He looked me up and down and then introduced himself as Robin, and explained that he was a student. He would test my eyes and then the professor would check his work.

The first thing was a machine called an auto-refractor. I had to look into it with one eye at a time, it clicked a few times and then delivered a print-out. “Well, well,” said Robin. “minus 3.25. This is your first eye test, isn’t it?” “minus 3.25?” spluttered Steve; “Good grief, you’re worse then me, I’m only minus 2.75.” “OK,” said Robin, “that’s only a preliminary reading as you should know. Let’s go and play with some lenses.” He led us into a dark room with a chart on the wall, sat me in the chair and began trying different lenses in front of my right eye, then the left. Each time it seemed an age before the letters on the chart were clear, but finally Robin said, “Well, my dear, the auto-refractor was spot on this time. Minus 3.25 it is. You need glasses and you need to wear them all the time; in fact I don’t know how you’ve coped, or has Steve been helping you out?” “Well,” said Steve, “he’s been wearing my old specs around school, but they’re only minus 1.75, so they’re not much help these days. But I told you, his mother doesn’t think he needs specs.” “I think she’ll have to change her mind when she sees the Prof’s comment on the bottom of this prescription.” Robin went out and in a few minutes came back with an older man who shone a light in my eyes and fiddled a bit with the lenses before confirming Robin’s results. Finally he wrote on the bottom of the prescription form, signed it with a flourish, and handed it to me, and left us with Robin. He had written ‘CORRECTION IMPERATIVE: CONSTANT WEAR.’ “Listen, dear,” said Robin. “If all else fails we can make up a pair of glasses for you with bog standard frames—there’ll be nothing sexy about them but they won't cost much and you’ll be able to see. All the best and let me know how you go on.”

By this time I was dying for a pee, so I looked round for the Gents’ on the way out; it was a big place with lots of stalls and cublcles, and it was empty except for me and Steve...

Home with my prescription. I didn’t know how Mum was going to react; in case she tore it up I went to the copy shop and made a copy to show her. When I said, “Uh, Mum, I went for an eye test,” she went white and said, “You did WHAT?” I knew she’d heard me perfectly well so I went on, “I definitely need glasses; look, here’s the prescription.” She took it and read it; for a minute I thought she was going to tear it up. She went red and then white again and spluttered in her throat and sat down with her head in her hands—I was a bit worried, but after a few minutes she stood up. Her hands were shaking but she said, “I’m going to talk to your father.” That surprised me because she doesn’t usually have a lot to do with him; but she went to the phone and dialled. I heard her ask for Dad by name, and then snatches of the conversation, “Yes Vic, it’s me, Emma. This son of yours has just come home with a prescription for glasses...yes, I know he’s my son as well...let’s see, minus 3.25…is that so? tomorrow then?...yes, you’d better tell him everything, it’s time he knew...right. Thanks. Bye.” She hung up and when she turned round there were tears in her eyes. “Right!” she said. “Tomorrow’s Saturday. You’re to meet your father at Shakespeare’s the opticians at eleven o’clock. He’ll explain a lot of things and sort this business out for you. He’ll see that you get glasses; he says you need them and you need to wear them all the time. I wish I didn't have to see them, but just don't expect me to admire them or discuss them at all.” Her eyes filled up again, but she said, “Oh, and you’ll have to take this with you.” “It’s all right,” I said; “that’s a copy I made in case you tore it up.” “Right,” she said. “I’ll just do that!” She ripped it up and threw it in the waste paper basket; then she laughed suddenly and said, “Fish and chips OK for supper?” “Fine,” I said. “Garlic batter? Mushy peas?” “Right, but you can fetch them. In about an hour, do you think?” That was settled, and all evening she was in a jokey mood. We ate our fish and chips in front of the TV, which was a waste of time as far as I was concerned. I was glad things had turned out so well; I thought about going round to Steve’s to tell him the news, but decided to go tomorrow; I might even be able to go with my glasses on!

Saturday 11 May

This has been just about the happiest day of my life. I’ve got my glasses and I love them. I think I look good in them and through them everything looks fabulous. I knew my eyes were bad but I’d forgotten what seeing properly is like. I’ve met my Uncle Phil; he’s even better looking in real life than on TV (and his specs look even thicker!) I know where my Dad lives and I’ve been there. I know why Dad and Mum split up and why Mum was so against me getting glasses. I’ll write the rest tomorrow.

(Later) Can’t sleep, I’m still so excited, so I’m writing about the day in case I forget any of it though at this moment that doesn’t seem likely.

I found the shop all right. There was a great big sign that even a short-sighted kid like me could read. I hung around outside for a few minutes, and then wondered if I was supposed to meet Dad inside. I pushed the door open and looked round the shop, but there was nothing in the blur that looked like him. “Hey!” said a voice. “Is this Simon, or is this Simon?” I squinted in the direction of the voice, and there were people behind a counter. I moved that way, and when I was close enough I could see a tall smiling guy with fair hair and glasses with round gold frames that looked really good on him, and a shorter man, a bit older, also with glasses, but clear plastic frames. They were both quite casually dressed. The smaller man put his hand out. “Welcome to Shakespeare’s, Simon,” he said. It’s nice to meet you at last. I’m Will Shakespeare and this is Francis Bacon. I test eyes, so you don’t need me today, but Frank will dispense your glasses and make sure they fit and look all right. I don’t know what’s keeping your father—just a minute.” He opened a door and shouted through it, “Vic, get yourself down here, your son’s champing at the bit!” Seconds later the door opened and Dad appeared—WEARING GLASSES! You could have knocked me down with a feather! They had round gold frames, just like Frank’s. “Sorry to keep you waiting, son,” he said, “but you know what they say: when you’ve got to go you’ve got to go,” and he gave me a hug and kissed me on the cheek. “Hey Dad,” I said, “I didn’t know you had glasses.” “No, son, I don’t suppose you did; but you’ll be getting to know a few other things today.”

Of course I had to start by choosing some frames so that my glasses could be made up. Frank looked at my prescription and said to Dad, “I think we’re talking about two pairs, just in case of accidents.” “That’s what I was thinking.” “Right, Simon,” said Frank. “I think, and for once your father agrees with me, that you need a spare pair of glasses in case something happens to the first pair. Your sight isn’t too good now, but once you’re used to wearing glasses it’s going to seem a lot worse if you have to go without them. Have you any idea what sort of frames you want?” Well, I hadn’t, had I? The only frames I’d ever thought about were Steve’s black ones which I was used to, and I was half-expecting to get the same kind of thing for myself. But Frank gently but firmly persuaded me I ought to try some other styles before I made up my mind. It seemed to take ages, but in the end I settled for a round gold frame like his and Dad’s; and for the second pair I went for something really different: black plastic oblongs. Dad wasn’t too sure about them, but Frank persuaded him that they suited me—they stand out against my fair skin and hair and seem to shout, “Hey look, this kid’s wearing glasses!”—but after struggling all this time to see I don’t mind that. Frank took some measurements and went off to the lab with the two frames, and Dad said, “Right, we need to talk. Let’s go upstairs.”

We went through a door marked ‘Private’ and up two flights of stairs, and Dad led me into a big, comfortably furnished room and said, “Right son, make yourself at home; I am.” “What do you mean, you are?” “This is where I live; Frank and I share this flat.” “Frank and you...” “Simon, there isn’t an easy way to tell you this: your Uncle Philip isn’t the only gay man in the family.” I went hot, then cold, then hot again. I spluttered a bit and then managed to say, “Hey Dad, that’s great! That makes three of us!” It was Dad’s turn to splutter a bit and then he said, “I see. What does your mother say about that?” “Oh come on Dad, I don’t tell Mum things like that, but I can talk to you. Just a minute though, if you’re gay how do you manage to be my Dad?” “Well, son, it’s a long story, but your mother and I both think it’s time you knew it. The first thing to tell you is that when I started at dental school I met Will Shakespeare and we fell in love and lived together for a few years. But then your mother and I were working together a lot; she was attractive, she had a boyish figure—she still does, doesn’t she?—and I got the idea I was straight after all. I left Will and moved in with her. We lived together for a couple of years I suppose, but I realized what a mistake I’d made, and I left. Almost immediately I met Frank. Will was already thinking of offering him a job, and when we got together it made it all just too convenient to be true. It was only after I left your mother that she discovered she was pregnant with you. Really, going to live with a woman was the most unlikely thing I’ve ever done, but I’m glad I did it because you were born. I hope you know how proud your mother and I both are of you—that’s really the reason she is fairly strict with you. But maybe you’ve worked out why telling her you need glasses didn’t please her—and why I’ve always worn contact lenses around you, though I hate the things. And if you tell her you’re gay—oh God!

“The last thing to tell you is that your Uncle Phil lives with Will in the flat below this one and is cooking lunch for us, so you’ll get to see him—and he’s really looking forward to meeting you. And by that time you’ll be seeing really well, because Malcolm will have got your glasses ready, one pair if not both.” I was silent for a few minutes, then, “Dad.” “Yes?” “Do you and Frank sleep together, all night, in the same bed?” “Well yes, we do. Why?” “Only, I just wish me and my friend Steve could do that.” “Simon, I didn’t hear that. You just shouldn’t be having those ideas at your age! And in any case you mean ‘Steve and I’!” “OK Dad, I wish Steve and I could sleep together like you and Frank, because we’re in love like you and Frank. And just because we’re younger that doesn’t make it any easier not being able to!” “I know, love, I know,” said Dad. “Come here a minute.” I went over, and my dad sat me on his knee, and hugged me for a long time, and kissed me over and over again, not the way Steve does, but gently. I cried a bit, and Dad kissed the tears away. He cried a bit too, and I carefully took his glasses off and kissed the tears away for him. Presently the phone rang and Dad answered it. “Right,” I heard him say. “We’ll be down.” He put the phone down and said, “It’s your big moment coming up. Your glasses are ready. Let’s go downstairs.”

Back in the shop, I looked with new interest at the man who had stolen my father’s heart. Frank was tall with a good head of fair hair; certainly he was good looking, but what I liked most of all was the lines round his eyes that would easily fall into a smile; and the smile was clearly for me as well as for Dad. “Here’s your first pair, Simon,” he said; “the others’ll be ready after lunch.” It was the gold-rimmed pair that was ready of course; Frank put them on me and I gave a spontaneous shout of delight as the world sprang into the clearest focus I could remember in years—maybe since the first time I ever tried Steve’s specs. “Everything looking OK then?” said Frank. “OK?” I responded; “It’s BRILLIANT!” “Right; it looks as if they’re fitting fine, but the next hour or two will show if they’re going to slip down or if they pinch anywhere; I guess you don’t mean to take them off.” “Too damn right I don’t! I’ve waited too long for these to go taking them off now I’ve got them!” “Fair enough; have you seen how you look in them?” There were big mirrors over the racks of frames; I looked—and it was like the first time I saw Steve put his glasses on, only now I knew what it was. In no time at all I had a raging stand, the father and mother of all boners, and it was ready to explode. I said, “Sorry, but I need to go to the loo—NOW!” Frank grinned, and pushed me through a door marked ‘Staff Cloakroom’. I dashed in, and through another door where there was a WC pedestal and a washbasin with a mirror over it. I unzipped my fly, eased my rock hard penis out, took another look at my bespectacled reflection—and shot my load in five seconds flat! My erection wasn’t all that ready to subside either, and I wanted to pee; so I dropped my pants and sat on the loo thinking about cold kippers and other unsexy things, It still took a few minutes, and after a bit I heard footsteps and my Dad’s voice said, “You all right there, son?” “Yeah, I’m fine; just cooling down.” “OK, don’t be any longer than you can help. It’s lunch time and Will can get a bit impatient.” When I emerged the shop was closed for lunch; Dad and Frank were standing talking quietly with their fingers entwined, and I thought how good they looked together and how much I liked Frank.

Dad led the way upstairs. The door of the first floor flat was open and he went in, calling, “Anyone in?” A door opened and there was Will. When he got a proper look at me he said “Oh my GOD! It’s Phil to the life! Phil, come and meet your nephew; he’s so like you at his age it’s not true!” My uncle emerged from the kitchen wearing shorts, a T-shirt and an apron. His glasses had frames like Will’s, but the lenses were so thick and strong his eyes were tiny behind them. “Simon!” he said; “at last I get to meet my gorgeous godson: come here!” Only when I had had a great big hug and several kisses did he step back and look at me critically. “Yes Will, I see what you mean,” he said. “It is a bit like looking in the mirror when I got my first glasses.” “A bit!” said Will. “Same face, same hair, same eyes—and the same frames and the same prescription near as dammit! If I didn’t know who you were fucking at the time I’d say he was your son, not your nephew!” “Actually he’s very like Vic too,” said my uncle, “apart from the hair.” “This is all fascinating,” said Frank, “and actually I think you’re all gorgeous; but who do you have to fuck to get a drink round here?” That reminded Will of his duty as host, and he produced gin and sherry (it was a working day after all) and Phil headed back to the kitchen. “Come and talk to your old uncle,” he said; “and you can stir the soup for me at the same time...Well, my dear, it’s lovely to meet you at last, and it’s true what Will says, you and your first glasses look remarkably like me and my first glasses when I was your age. Tell me something though: I went to a school where all the teaching was in small rooms, I never had to look at a blackboard, and I had no idea there was anything wrong with my eyes till I tried to learn to drive. I gather you’ve been telling your mother for ages you can’t see but she thought you were swinging the lead; how have you coped in school all this time without specs?” “Well, I haven’t really. My friend Steve used to lend me his glasses; and when he got new ones last year he gave me his old ones, only they aren’t strong enough any more, I think they’re -1.75.” “Right; so your myopia’s increasing pretty fast...but it’s nice to know you have such a good friend.” “I know what you want to know, Uncle Phil, and the answer is Yes: I’m in love with Steve and I’m sure he’s in love with me.” “Good; so are you going to let your godfather meet your boy friend?” “Oh; well, I’ll tell you one thing: he’d love to meet you. He introduced me to your show a while back and it was on his telly I first saw you and thought you looked like Dad—oh Uncle Phil, I love Steve, and I love my Dad, and I love you to bits too!” “Well, that’s nice to know. Give us another kiss, and then let’s get this soup served up if we don’t want Will throwing a tantrum. One thing you have to know about your uncle Will is that he’s really a great big pussy-cat, but he likes to spit and scratch occasionally—or quite often really. I remember the first time we met Frank, in a gay club in Birmingham; I found Will tearing the poor boy off a strip for taking his glasses off and leaving them in the car—he was really savage! And yet at the same time he was planning to offer him a job.”

Well, there were no tantrums at the lunch table. Will was in a good mood, and everybody else was quite boisterous. The meal was simple but quite delicious: the soup I had helped to stir was oxtail, followed by steak and kidney pudding and then a fresh fruit salad. “Do you know,” said Uncle Phil, “I had steak and kidney pudding for supper the day I got my first glasses; I hope that isn’t an omen for Simon’s eyesight.” “Honestly, love,” said Will, “ you do talk some crap sometimes. If the boy has the gene that makes high myopes he’ll be one; if not, not. Time will tell. Now let’s talk about something else.” “Right you are,” said Uncle Phil, and started talking about something to do with the church he goes to. Dad and Frank joined in, and there was a lot of laughter. I was a bit lost; I hadn’t been to church much since I finished Sunday School, and presently Uncle Phil noticed and said, “Come on, we’ve left Simon behind—further behind than he’d be if I’d done my duty as a godfather.” “Simon, you’d better come and help me with the coffee and tell me about your religion.”

There wasn’t a lot to tell, but I was impressed by how important it was to my uncle. Apparently he and Dad and Frank went to Mass every Sunday at a church called St Augustine’s (Will was less keen but joined them occasionally); perhaps I’d like to go with them sometime? My previous experience of church had been pretty deadly; but if it meant so much to my new and delightful uncle/godfather, not to mention my Dad and his equally delightful boy friend, I was game. I’d have to talk to my mother, of course; and while Dad was entitled to my company, she might not be too keen on my spending time with Frank and Uncle Phil. On the other hand, I supposed she and Dad must have agreed about my godparents. Anyway, we’d see.

We served the coffee, and pretty soon Will and Frank had to get back to work. “Come down when you’re ready, Simon,” said Frank. “We still owe you your other specs.” He kissed Dad and Will kissed Uncle Phil. I thought how nice it was to be with men who kissed each other so naturally and unselfconsciously; I felt I had come home. Dad and Uncle Phil and I sat down with our coffee, and Uncle Phil brought up his suggestion that I might go to church with them. “That would be really good,” said Dad, “just as long as we sell the idea to Emma. She can’t really object—I seem to remember it was her idea to ask you to be his godfather—but I’d still rather have her goodwill. Anyway, Simon, leave it to me to talk to her first.” “OK Dad,” said I. “All right if I go down and collect my other glasses?” “Oh yes, of course,” he said, and Uncle Phil added, “and come back here and let me see how they look. You’ll hang on here for a bit, won’t you, Vic?”

The shop was quite busy when I went downstairs. There was a guy behind the counter with red hair, glasses like mine, and a badge that said ‘Ben’; he smiled and said, “If you’re Simon your other glasses aren’t quite ready, the lab’s been busy; Frank wondered if you’d like to go in and watch Malcolm.” “Malcolm?” “Oh, he’s the technician; he’s the guy who keeps us all seeing properly. He’s a sweetie, but hands off—he’s mine!” That seemed a good idea, so Ben showed me the way to the lab. Malcolm was tall and thin with black hair and certainly seemed to be yet another nice guy. His glasses magnified his eyes, so he was obviously long-sighted (I had learned that much). “So you’re Vic’s son,” he said. “A triumph of experience over hope if ever there was one. The talk in the shop is that you’re the image of Phil when he was your age, specs and all. Well, I didn’t know him then but I can believe it. I hope you don’t mind: I stopped work on your specs to oblige some silly little queen who’d lost his and was complaining of a splitting headache. I thought you’ve got one pair so you wouldn’t mind waiting a bit longer.” That seemed sensible to me; Malcolm had work to do but he kept up a running commentary on what he was doing, interspersed with outrageous comments. I felt very much at ease with him. Presently, he said, “Right. Now for your other pair!” and picked up the tray with my black frames and the lenses for them. As he altered and fitted the lenses he explained exactly what he was doing. Finally the specs were finished and he said, “There we go. Let’s just check them for fit.” A few adjustments and they felt fine; Frank had to OK them too but no, there were no problems—until I looked in the mirror again…

Once I’d dealt with that little problem (!) I headed upstairs to show my second new self to Uncle Phil, kind of hoping Dad wouldn’t be with him…I wanted to kiss Uncle Phil again and I thought Dad might not be too keen. No problems though; Dad and Uncle Phil were sitting with arms round each other’s shoulders—neither of them wearing glasses—and Uncle Phil said, ”It’s all right, Simon; your dad thinks you’re a bit young to have a boy friend, so I’ve just been reminding him what a bad lad he was at your age. Do you know, we shared a bedroom and he used to play with himself and then get in my bed and play with me—and then go to the loo to jerk off. I was supposed to think he’d gone to pee. I’m just glad you’ve got Steve, but I want to meet him; I’ve gone far too long without seeing you—and now let’s get my specs back on and see you look in your other pair…oh yes, quite a different image, but very smart—don’t you think, Vic?” “Oh yes,” said Dad with quite a cheeky grin; “quite the young executive!” He put his glasses on, stood up and gave me a big hug and a kiss, and so did Uncle Phil.

I was beginning to think it might be time to go home (besides, I wanted to show my new glasses to Steve), so I said, “Well I guess it’s about time I made tracks; I think Mum’s expecting me back for tea.” Uncle Phil wouldn’t hear of me going without a goodbye kiss from him and dad (of course) but also Will, Frank, Malcolm and Ben. I thought I’d never felt so much at home anywhere as this establishment where all the guys wanted to kiss me goodbye.

I kept the bold black glasses on for the journey home. I didn’t have too far to go and I decided to walk, revelling in the clear vision and stopping to look at all kinds of things I hadn’t seen clearly in years—I was just so deliriously happy being a spexy guy at last, and if I was sexy into the bargain so much the better. When I reached home Mum was just getting a cold drink ready, so we both had one. She seemed a bit ill-at-ease, and eventually said, “Simon, I owe you a big apology. You really do need those glasses and you’ve obviously needed them a long time, I ought to have sent you for a test ages ago and I don’t know how you’ve managed all this time. But now that you’ve got them—well, you look good in them.” “Hey, thanks, Mum,” I said. “Let me show you my other pair.” I changed into the gold ones, and she said, “Right, that’s a you totally different look, but they suit you too. Now tell me about your day.” I did my best to tell her without going into detail about the gay aspects, but she wanted to know more. “Did you meet your father’s friend Frank? Did you like him?” I had to tell the truth, “Yes Mum, Frank is a really nice guy, and Dad seems to be really happy with him.” “And your uncle Philip?” “Yes, it was lovely meeting him after I’ve seen him on TV—and his friend too.” “Listen, Simon. If you think you’re going to grow up—well, the same way as your father and your uncle—I think you should spend time with your uncle. Apart from the fact that he’s your godfather, I think he’d be the best kind of role model for you if you’re, er, that way.” “Hey, thanks Mum.” “Another thing. Someone called Steve rang up asking for you. I told him you were at the optician’s and he said would you give him a call when you get back.” “OK Mum; Steve’s my best mate at school; uh, I’ve been wearing his old glasses in school for the last year or so. It’s the same as you say, I don’t know how I’d have managed without them—and it was him that took me to get my eyes tested.” “Oh dear. Well, never mind; your Mum’s seen sense at last. And if ‘best mate’ means what I think it might mean, you’d better take him to meet your uncle.” “OK Mum. Erm, Uncle Phil was asking about church, and he seemed a bit disappointed that I haven’t been since I finished Sunday school. I think Dad might be going to talk to you.” “Well, of course he would. I used to go to church with your father, but when he left I didn’t feel like going, and I’ve got out of the habit. If you want to go with them I’ll be really pleased. Actually I think it might be good for you to spend more time with your father and your uncle, maybe to stay there Saturday nights if there’s room for you and then you could go to church with them if that’s what you want. I’ll talk to your father.” All I said was “OK Mum”, but I was ready to cheer. What had got into her, I wondered.

I went out to the phone and rang Steve: “Hi, it’s me.” “Oh hi, how’d it all go? You sorted out? When d’you get your specs?” “Er, fine; yes; and I’m wearing them.” “Great! So when do I get to see them?” “Well, I was hoping I could see you maybe tonight.” “Hang on while I check.” … “Look, my folks are going out tonight, but I don’t have to go with them. Why don’t you come round sometime after eight, we can have coffee if you like, and we’ll have the house to ourselves…” “Sounds good; see you later.” I said to Mum, “I’m going round to Steve’s later on.” “Right son. And remember what I said about introducing him to your uncle.”

I walked round to Steve’s, once again enjoying seeing everything properly through my round gold glasses, and got there just on half-past eight. “Hey!” said Steve when he answered the door; “there’s a sight for sore eyes!” and as I stepped inside he pushed the door shut, wrapped his arms round me and drew me into a l-o-n-g kiss. As we stood there I could feel his erection and knew he could feel mine. Finally we had to come up for breath and he led me by the hand into the sitting room, sat me down on a sofa and demanded a blow-by-blow account of my day. When I mentioned my second pair of glasses he wanted to see them—of course. I had them in my pocket—of course, so I changed into them and he was almost beside himself. He was kissing me, and one hand was inside my shirt and the other inside my jeans (and my hands were busy too). Then he stopped, and undid my jeans and pulled them down, and my Y-fronts too, and got down on his knees and took my old man in his mouth. Wwwoooowwwww!!!!!! I’ve never felt anything like it, I didn’t know people did that, but I’m all in favour of it, and later I did the same to him. Later we swopped glasses; Steve’s look OK on me but they’re a bit weak, and mine (both of them) look good on him. I told him Uncle Phil wants to meet him and that Mum told me to introduce them; he can’t wait, he’s a real fan of Uncle Phil. I told him what they all said about church, and he was quite interested. Apparently he was a choirboy till his voice broke; I never knew that.

I walked home feeling as if I was walking on air and there was something new to enjoy: I suppose I must have been able to see the stars years ago, but I don’t remember. They are certainly beautiful. So is Steve, I do love him.

Sunday 12 May

I didn’t have an alarm clock set this morning and (after typing half the night!) I woke up quite late. It was broad daylight and when I opened my eyes I thought, Gosh, everything is really blurry. Then I remembered, I’VE GOT GLASSES NOW and spent a happy ten minutes deciding which pair to wear. The black ones won; I think I might make the gold ones my school glasses.

Friday 16 May

I’ve known for years that my eyes were bad and I’ve been wearing Steve’s old glasses around school for ages, but now I have proper glasses of my own and wear them all the time, I can’t see a damn thing when I take them off.

Sunday 26 May

Went to Mass with Dad and Uncle Phil and Frank. Will came too. The singing was something amazing!

Sunday 2 June

Steve came to church with us. He said the music was like All Saints where he used to be a choirboy, but livelier. He said he wished he’d been confirmed; I didn’t know what that meant, and Uncle Phil had to help him explain. We’re both going to think about it.

Saturday 16 November

Lovely clear night tonight. As I walked home from Steve’s I looked up at the sky—I can’t see the stars any more! My eyes must be getting worse. I can still see OK at school and out in the street though.

2003

Sunday 2 February (Candlemas)

At Mass this morning I couldn’t read the hymn numbers; I had to tilt my glasses up. The others noticed and Uncle Phil said, “New glasses time, Simon?” I was trying to hold out for a year, but it doesn’t look as if I’ll manage it.

Saturday 8 February

Eye test; Robin did it, the same guy who tested me at the School of Optometry. He’s in his final year and works at Shakespeare’s on Saturdays. Will checked his results, and of course my eyes are worse: -4.5, that’s another -1.25 in 9 months. Will suggested keeping my old glasses and wearing them if I’m going to spend a long time reading or on the computer, and said they’ll check me again in six months. Steve came with me and Robin tested him too although it’s less than a year since his last test. He’s -3.5 now; that’s only -0.75 increase in nearly two years, and look at me! I’m racing ahead of him although he had glasses long before I did. We decided we wanted matching frames like Dad and Frank, and Will and Uncle Phil. So we’ve each got a round pair covered with black plastic and a kind of heavy oblong pair in clear plastic—different, but I think they look good on Steve and he thinks they look good on me. The Harry Potter specs are for school, and the others for like social occasions.

Sunday 9 February

(No problems seeing today, and the stars were clear as clear last night). The Vicar gave out about Confirmation classes starting. Steve wants to join, and I think I do too. Dad and Uncle Phil would be delighted, but I don’t want to do it just to please them, or even to please Steve.

Sunday 24 May

Confirmation day. Great. The worst part was going to confession last night. I might have chickened out of that, but Steve wouldn’t let me. Uncle Phil was sponsor for both of us and took us all to a fabulous Italian place for lunch. Mum came too and actually seemed to enjoy being with a crowd of queens, but Steve’s parents weren’t quite so comfortable.

Friday 25 July

Finished school. College in the autumn. Steve and I will be going into a flat together. Noticed tonight that the stars are out of sight again.

Saturday 25 August

Eye test. Another -0.75—in six months! That’s -5.25. So as to go on having the same frames as Steve, I got new lenses in my frames. Frank suggested high index as my glasses would be pretty thick, so I said OK. They took the plastic frames first, and Steve arrived while I was waiting for them. When he saw the new glasses he didn’t look pleased. “What’s up?” I asked. “They’re kind of thin.” “Well, they’re high index lenses, of course they’re thinner.” He looked very serious and took both my hands in his and said, “Darling, ever since I can remember I’ve loved you. Even as a young kid you were so good-looking, and you’re so much better-looking in specs it’s all I can do to keep my hands off you in public. But I was hoping your new specs would be thicker, and instead they’re thinner.” A tear ran down his cheek, and I gave him a quick kiss and went to find Frank, who promised not only to get standard CR-39 lenses in the other frames, but to change the first ones over. “No problem,” he said. “We’ll be able to use them within a few days.” So it seems I’ve got to keep wearing coke bottles to keep Steve happy. As if I minded!

2006

Tuesday 4 July

Graduation day. I haven’t written anything here for a long time. My eyes have gone on getting steadily worse and I’m into double figures: -10.25—and bifocals for the last couple of years—while Steve’s just over half that at -5.5. I’m worse even than Uncle Phil, and I used to think his glasses were soooo thick! We’re both wearing funky Italian frames at the moment.

(Later) The big news is that after the Graduation STEVE ASKED ME TO MARRY HIM! Yeah, I know the legal name for it is a Civil Partnership, but we know what it means to us. Oh; I didn’t say what my answer was, but I was hardly going to refuse, now was I?

Friday 7 July

Went to see Mum and tell her the big news. Didn’t know how she’d take it. She was quiet for a bit and then said, “Well, it isn’t the kind of wedding I dreamed of when you were little. Tell me, at your kind of wedding, does anybody give you away?” “Well, I don’t know Mum. I haven’t heard of it.” “Only, if there was anything of that sort, I’d like to do it for you, just to tell the world that whatever you do I love you and want to support you.” She was almost in tears, and I burst into tears myself and we both had a good cry on each other’s shoulders, for the first and only time I can remember. Funny, ’cause Dad’s the one I’ve always got emotional with. Anyway, I promised that one way or another we’ll find a way for her to do what she wants. I’d taken my glasses off and Mum had to find them and clean the tears off before I could see anything—I’m so blind without them, but with them my vision’s perfect.

Saturday 2 December

Three weeks to the wedding—two days before Christmas. My Mum and Steve’s mum are both giving us away; Steve’s mum wasn’t so keen, but when my Mum started on her she gave in. Uncle Phil is going to be best man for both of us and produce the rings at the right moment, and we’re going to Mass at St Augustine’s afterwards. Will and Uncle Phil want to give us new glasses as part of the wedding present, so we’ve both had a test today: I’ve gone up to -11 and Steve to -6, and he’s got some prism now as well. The new frames are spectacular—rimless, hingeless, lightweight. But of course mine have ordinary CR-39 lenses so as to be a thick as possible and keep Steve happy. (one time after I’d had a test he said, “Darling, I’m sorry your eyes are worse, but I’m SO glad your specs are thicker, you’re so fucking sexy in thick specs!” That makes it all worth while, really.)

Sunday 24 December

What a day—and what a night! The ceremony was a bit basic, but we made the most of it, and it was lovely to go to Mass together straight afterwards. Super reception, with a happy mixture of straight and gay friends. But the wedding night! Although Steve and I have been together so long, there were things we’d never done. So, early in the night we got into a sixty-nine for the first time ever. Later, Steve turned over and made the most complete surrender one man can make to another. Later still, I surrendered myself to him. We really are a married couple now.

THE END

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