No use crying over spilt milk, they say, but I reckon everybody does it. I don’t mind admitting I’ve shed a good few tears over the whole business.
My new glasses came as a big shock—not the worst shock as you’ll hear, but a shock none the less; I’m far blinder than I thought, and that kind of explains how it all happened.
I had to wear glasses when I was little; I had a ‘lazy eye’ or something, but I grew out of it and was quite pleased to be told I didn’t need them any more. At school we had eye tests every year or two, and in my last year I failed; they sent a letter home saying I needed to see an optometrist. I went, and was told I was a bit short-sighted, and duly got glasses again. I took some care choosing frames and thought they looked OK.
I wasn’t the first in my class, by any means. We were well past the age when starting to wear glasses meant angst and ridicule. My best mate Boris had got them the year before; he had persistent headaches and turned out to be long-sighted. At first he wore them just for reading and at the computer, but by the time I got mine he was wearing them all day in class, and once or twice was still wearing them after school when we met up in the toilets for a grope and—you know. Anyway, it wasn’t an issue; I didn’t mind wearing them—I just didn’t seem to need them much. If I sat up front in class I could read the board without them; I preferred my computer to the TV and didn’t go to the cinema much; on the odd occasions I did I wore them because I really needed them to se the screen. I already had my driving licence, but I didn’t drive much; once again I didn’t drive without them, but my favourite way of getting around and keeping fit was my bike—and nobody said anything about needing glasses for that.
I wasn’t the studious type; at least, I read avidly, but I read what I wanted to read rather than what helped me to pass exams, so I couldn’t go to university even if that had been what I wanted. I was really lucky to get a job at the gym, first of all as a ‘general assistant’ which meant a kind of dogsbody: I had to keep the equipment cleaned and properly maintained—and as a fringe benefit I got to work out on my own account and kept pretty fit and slim. The job didn’t make many demands on my distance vision; if I couldn’t see the clock on the far wall I looked at my wristwatch. So, once again, my glasses were in their case most of the time.
Once or twice I was first on the scene when somebody overdid it or got a sprain, and found I had a knack of easing pain—‘soothing hands’ somebody said. I’d always been able to relieve a headache my stroking the temples—and I began to be in demand as a masseur, even though I was totally unqualified. The clientele of the gym was all male and largely gay, and that suited me just fine. Sometimes a massage led on to something else, and that suited me even better. The gym advertised my services as a ‘sports massage therapist’, a term that required no qualifications but actually described my work pretty accurately.
Eventually I stopped carrying my glasses with me; they just didn’t help much any more. That my eyes had got worse and I needed a stronger prescription never occurred to me, probably because the deterioration was so gradual. I could do my job; I didn’t drive a car; I never went to the cinema; I didn’t have a TV set; I could have found my way between home, work and the gay pubs and clubs of the town blindfold—and actually, for all I could see I might as well have been blindfold!
One afternoon I was putting some equipment to rights when a familiar voice said, “What’s a nice boy like you doing in a place like this?” I squinted into the blur and—“Boris!” Boris it was, in shorts and a singlet, and John Lennon-type glasses with strong lenses that magnified his eyes. After school he’d gone off to university and we’d eventually lost touch, but now it seemed he was back in town, looking good and ready to start where we left off. “I hear you do a mean massage,” he said. “Well, I have been known to; want to try?” “Sure.” I checked the schedules; there was a room available right away and I booked it for an hour. Boris quickly stripped off and got on the couch. “Are you taking your glasses off?” I asked. “No way! I don’t see much without them and if a beautiful naked man’s giving me a massage I want to be able to see him.” “Uh, did you say naked?” “Certainly!” I stripped off; Boris gazed admiringly at me through his pebble glasses, and I squinted myopically at him. We fell into each other’s arms, and into a l-o-n-g kiss. When we paused for breath Boris said, “Now look here, I came here for a massage; you don’t want me complaining I didn’t get what I paid for, now do you?” His body was firm to touch, and as I manipulated his muscles my member sprang to attention. “Look man,” he said; “are you a masseur or a rent boy?” “Bloody cheek!” I responded; “I only charge for the massage; anything else comes with my compliments.” Suiting the action to the word, I began to jerk him off, and he responded in kind. As the hour came to an end, Boris said, “Come out to dinner tonight. It’s been a long time, and it would be really great to pick up the threads.” We arranged a time and place for that night after I finished work, and the hour ended as it had begun, with a long deep kiss.
Over dinner (in a gay-friendly restaurant, not cordon bleu but really enjoyable; decent food and wine, great ambience) Boris said, “Look here, you did a really good job for me today, I’ve been totally relaxed ever since. Let me give you the benefit of my skill as I’ve had the benefit of yours.” “Your skill?” “Yes. I’m an optometrist. I’ve just opened a new branch of Shakespeare’s, the first outside London, and I’d like to give you an eye test—because honestly, love, I can tell at a glance that you need glasses; you’re as blind as a bat.” “I have a pair of glasses; I’ve had them since school (remember?) but I stopped wearing them because they don’t help much.” “Could that be because you need a stronger prescription?” “Oh; I never thought of that.” “Come and see me in the morning. The appointment book’s fairly clear so far and I’ll be able to give you my whole attention. But before all that, I’m living at my parents’ for the time being; have you got somewhere we can go?”
For many reasons the hour we spent in bed in my flat is one I shall never forget. Once again we began with a long, deep kiss, but this time we didn’t stop there. We undressed each other as far as our underpants, and then Boris looked wistfully at me through his glasses (he was wearing a different pair, oblongs in clear plastic) and said shyly, “Have you got your glasses handy?” “I think I could put my hand on them.” “Would you put them on for me? Please?” I found them, in a drawer in my desk, and put them on. They didn’t make much difference to my vision and I squinted at Boris as I made my way back into the bedroom. “There you are!” he said. “Nowhere near strong enough any more, but by heck they do something for you: without them you’re hot, but with them you’re in-cand-esc-ent!” We kissed again, but it was obvious Boris had other things than my lips in mind. He worked his way down my chest, nibbled my nipples and gave my navel a passing glance before easing my pants off and—well, a sixty-nine was a new experience for me. Boris says it was his first too. As we lay contentedly in each other’s arms, Boris whispered, “Have I ever told you I love you? I’ve been in love with you ever since school and I’ve missed you like hell. Sure, I’ve been with plenty of other guys, but none of them meant anything to me; I never kept my specs on, I always took them off and tried to kid myself it was you jerking me off or sucking me off or whatever. If you’ll be my steady guy you’ll make me so-o-o happy.”
I didn’t know what to say for a minute, but then I put on my girliest voice and said, “Oh Mr Muir, this is so sudden!” “Sudden!” said Boris. “It may seem sudden to you, but it’s what I’ve been dreaming about for years. Go on, sweetie, say we’re an item.” “All right, we can give it a try.” “Oh, my love, thank you. I don’t know what I’d have done if you’d turned me down. Look, I really have to go. When can you come in for your test?” “Well, I don’t start work tomorrow till after lunch. Is the morning any good? Sounds good. Come at 10.30 and I’ll test your eyes and we might have time for a bit of the other while your specs are made up.” So we parted for the night.
I didn’t make it to the eye test. I set off on my bike; I told you I knew quite a lot of the town blindfold. Boris’s shop was in a disrict I didn’t know so well, and I totally missed a ‘Halt’ sign (I also told you I might as well have been blindfold for all I could see!) and pedalled straight into the path of a car. Apparently I was thrown right over the top of it and hit the ground badly. I woke up in hospital; there was an agonizing pain in my back and I couldn’t feel my feet; my back was broken.
When I didn’t show up at 10.30 as arranged, Boris rang my flat and got no answer; he rang the gym but of course I wasn’t there. By mid-day he was getting worried, rang the hospital, and got the news that I was badly injured and in Accident and Emergency. He rushed round, but I was out of it, and stayed that way for a couple of days.
There was more surgery, there was physiotherapy, there was a process of learning to use the wheelchair, and hoist myself from bed to chair. Fairly early in the proceedings, once I was out of bed, Boris brought his equipment in and gave me the delayed eye test. My old glasses had been in my pocket at the time of the accident, and had survived unscathed; the lenses in them were –1.25, and I now needed –5.50. Boris’s language was choice. “Honestly, love,” he said, “I wouldn’t wish what you’ve got on anybody, but you did ask for it, riding a bike with eyesight like that. Promise me you’ll wear these glasses full time, because if you don’t you’ll be a danger in a wheelchair to yourself and other people.” I promised, and he produced a selection of frames he thought might suit me. Among them were frames like his, both the round gold wire and the oblong clear plastic, and I said diffidently, “How would it be if I had frames to match yours?” “Oh darling,” he responded, “I hardly dared to hope you’d say that; would you really like those?” “Yes,” I said, “I really would.” I’d peered at my reflection in the mirror; I thought they looked good on me, and Boris had been giving me the impression that, wheelchair-bound or not, I was still his man. He took the frames and the prescription off to his lab, and the next morning he arrived with my two pairs of glasses.
As I said already, I got a shock when I put them on. I suppose I must have had good vision at school, but with the years I’d forgotten how clear everything could be. I needed no persuading to wear them from morning till night. While I was in hospital I discovered television. I did a lot of reading too; at first I had trouble reading with my glasses on, but if I took them off I needed to hold the book pretty close, and eventually I learned to use my long-neglected ciliary muscles and keep my specs on.
Life in a wheelchair has its problems, but it could be worse. I still can’t feel my feet; they tell me I never shall, and I can believe it. But my arms are as strong as ever, even stronger perhaps, and where there’s room I can move fast in the chair. Given a specially-designed couch I can still give a massage. Above all, I still have Boris. When the time for discharge approached, he announced his great plan of living with me as my carer. He had been discussing it with the social workers, and was quite sure he could combine it with his work. I protested; “But you can’t tie yourself to a cripple.” “Look here,” was the response, “don’t you remember, I told you I love you. I think you need me, but I’m fucking sure I need you.” What could I say?
I can’t feel it when Boris rubs my heels and my buttocks to prevent pressure sores—not physically, but the love he puts into it is almost palpable. I have no physical sensation when he jerks me off or sucks me off, but I can see him, and I don’t leave my glasses off any more (especially now that they’ve reached –7). He’s as agile as I used to be, and I still have all the sensation when I do it to him. I needn’t say I’m sweetness and light; of course I have my tantrums, but he’s amazingly patient, and he knows that deep down I’m happy and secure, because I know I’m loved.