"I told you the progressives donít work for everyone, Addison. Some of my patients swear by them, but others have problems with vertigo, nausea, or are sensitive to their vision Ďswimmingí when they walk."
"Kate, I heard you the first time around and I fully understood. Iím having none of those problems. I absolutely love these glasses for almost everything I do. Itís just that I simply am unable to read comfortably for long periods with them. The area for close vision is too narrow. It is taxing to do that at work all day."
Though I considered her one of my best friends, Kate had always been like a bossy big sister. We met in grad school during her final year of optometry studies. Sheís always had a tendency to tell you what you need without listening to what you want.
"Oh, I understand now. Ok, well, that gives us two options. Both require new frames with a taller lens area. We can make them up either as progressives or bifocals. Itís your choice, but I would recommend the bifocals. Itís the sure thing unless youíre too vain to be seen wearing glasses with a line, Ďold girlí."
"Ouch. But I seem to recall that you are, in actuality, a couple of years older than me," I shot back.
"Maybe, but I donít need bifocals," she sang.
I had been told that the strength of my prescription was the likely reason for my Ďearlyí onset of presbyopia. As a child, I had never complained of finding that I needed glasses. I learned to feel unique. Wearing glasses was just something I had to do if I wanted to see, no less, no more. But as I progressed through my teen years, so did my dependence. It was bad enough in high school, but by the time I finished six years of advanced education, I was wearing glasses with a minus twelve script. And because of the additional astigmatism, I had never found contacts to be very practical. It was just as well. With my recent developments, I would never have the patience to deal with contacts, readers, glasses, sunglasses, and prescription sunglasses. My handbag isnít that large.
Anyway, a few days later, I stopped on my way to work at Kateís practice to pick up my second new pair of glasses in the last two weeks.
"Addison, Dr. Green wants to see you in person," the receptionist told me. "She wants to personally check the fit to make sure everything works better this time."
Over the counter, she handed the bifocals to me in a case that she had already retrieved from the optical showroom. I figured Kate just wanted to talk and I had the time so I didnít mind. Since I was keeping the progressives, this was going to work out well. Suffice it to say, I had opted for a rakish look when I picked frames for the progressive lenses. Still, because of the large lens size, the bifocals were possibly more current, fashionably speaking. Letís just say the progressives were edgy while the bifocals looked classy, elegant, but safe.
When we met in the exam room, my assumption had been wrong. It was apparent that Kate was quite busy. She seemed hurried and frazzled. I appreciated the fact that she cared enough to give me special attention. We went through a similar routine as when I picked up the progressives. Viewing the eye chart, I could readily see the 20/20 line. But reading the little card held close to my face was now a substantial improvement. The bifocal segment in the lower portion of my lenses seemed huge in comparison to the progressives. Thatís exactly what Iíd wanted.
When I looked up from the card, Kate appeared so endearing and concerned. Of course, she always had been so. But this time was different. Since just the minute before, she had relaxed, slowed her pace, and no longer seemed rushed. Looking into her eyes, I was struck by their awesome beauty. A lovely shade of light brown, they squinted into little slits behind her sexy glasses when she smiled. In spite of that, the skin around her eyes was smooth and clear, revealing so signs of age for a woman that was nearly forty. God she could still pass for twenty-two.
"I like these glasses on you a lot, Addison. If I wasnít a happily married woman, Iíd be all over you," she said with a quirky smile.
Kate gently held the back of my neck with the palm of her hand. It felt cool and sensual. When she released, she stroked my ear with her thumb and forefinger.
"Thatís it honey. Youíre done, but keep in touch especially if you have further problems."
Leaving the room, Kate looked over her shoulder and gave me a wink. As I caught my breath, I wondered why I had never seen her real beauty before. I changed back to the more stylish progressives and left the office feeling a little unsteady. From where had those thoughts come? That was weird. Did I misinterpret her meanings or was Kate as attracted to me as I was to her? Gary, her husband, would never let Kate loose to go out with me anymore if he had witnessed what just happened.
It had been surprising to me how easily I had adjusted to using the progressives even with the narrow lenses. It probably helped that the Ďaddí in my prescription is fairly light. I was told that learning to use multi-focal lenses is easier when the difference is minimal. After arriving at my office, I was anxious to try my new specs. And after wearing the bifocals for only a few minutes, I realized they were everything Iíd wanted. Reading was wonderful again. The line was annoying only when I shifted focus away from reading. By the end of the day I was getting accustomed to that.
My assistant, Deborah, stopped by to say she was leaving for her night classes at the university but needed to leave some documents for my signature. As we exchanged pleasantries, I noticed the beauty of her face as she spoke. Her inviting smile was accented by the fullness of her lips and her perfect, white teeth. Normally, I would say that her chin and nose were too prominent. But, her lovely face was one of those where the wearing of glasses perfectly balanced her appearance. The two-tone purple and pink frames sheíd chosen were especially attractive. I loved the way her ponytail swung wildly with no sense of purpose other than to catch my attention. Drawn to her long neck and narrow shoulders, I wanted to grab her in my arms and kiss her until she couldnít breathe.
"I love your new glasses."
"What?" I heard myself gasp.
"I love those glasses," Deborah repeated. "Theyíre bifocals arenít they? Youíre too young for that, Addison."
Still trying to catch my breath, I replied "Thanks for the compliment, Deb, but evidently Iím not. I just got them this morning and Iím trying to get used to the line across the lenses. But, I can read so much better and without headaches!"
"Woot!" she agreed shaking a fist. "I donít care what anyone says, I think girls with bifocals are hot! I hope I look as good as you do when I need them. Hey, you should go out with me after work sometime. Weíd have fun. I promise. Well, gotta go now."
I watched as she walked away. Until she disappeared from sight I couldnít focus on anything but her shapely ass and long legs. Why now am I noticing Deborahís beauty? Sheís worked for me for two years and Iíve never felt like this before. Thatís the second time today that I went Ďgagaí for another skirt and damned if it didnít seem that she was coming on to me, too. I tried to continue reading but I couldnít concentrate.
"I need a drink," I admitted aloud.
I gathered my things and stopped to tidy up in the ladies room. After touching up, I changed into my sportier-looking progressives. I was not in the mood for anymore comments concerning my age. I left the building, trekked down the sidewalk for a few blocks, and stopped at an entryway with double doors. Painted on the windows were signs displaying Winkerbeanís. I liked that. The name reminded me of a cartoon character. Stepping inside, I stopped for a minute to let my eyes adjust to the dark. Iíd walked past this place for years, but had never gone inside. Once I could see again, I discovered that the pub was packed with people. It seemed awfully early in the afternoon for that much activity, but who was I to judge. Repeating my mantra, "It must be five oíclock somewhere in the world," I settled for one of two seats left at the bar. On the mirror behind the array of liquor bottles was a sign that confirmed the reference to the cartoon strip. It read, ĎOur drinks are Funkyí. Great, because that perfectly described the day I was having.
After drinking my first martini, I was waiting for the bartender to return when a man, who appeared to be about my age, approached me.
"Is anyone sitting here?" he asked while motioning to the stool beside me.
"No, join me," I replied bravely. "Itís the last seat in the place."
"May I buy you a drink?"
"Abso-funky-lutely, you may."
He laughed then barked, "Bartender, the lady would like another and Iíll take a Manhattan."
Showing composure, the bartender confirmed, "Sweet martini with two cherries?"
I shook my head in the affirmative direction.
"My name is Colton and I got to say, I love your glasses. Are they new?"
"Yes," I answered, "I just got them two weeks ago."
"Are you as fun as those cat-eyes suggest?"
I answered by flashing my Ďshit-eatingí grin. With the tension relieved, we carried on in conversation for hours. Like me, Colton worked nearby at a large firm where he was in middle management. We shared a lot of stories and similar acts of desperation. He was engaging, fun, but best of all, he was very attractive. There was something hinky about his story, though. A few clues gave me the distinct impression that he was married. But, I was relieved to find that I hadnít lost my mind. Throughout the evening, when possible, my four eyes drifted to check out other men in the pub. Not once did I find myself attracted to the ladies. After several martinis, I was only sober enough to realize that leaving with Colton would be a bad idea. He gave me his office phone number before I caught a cab.
The next morning, I struggled to function from the aftershock of the gin. Finally making it to the train platform, I wobbled like a weeble while waiting for the whistle. I felt challenged to say that quickly three times but I yielded to better judgment. The last thing I needed was to pull a muscle in my tongue. It was the only thing in my head that didnít hurt.
I found a quiet place in the train car and tried to read the newspaper. After several frustrating minutes, I changed glasses but the bifocals didnít solve my problem. With my head throbbing and my eyes refusing to converge, I reclined against the seatback and relaxed. After briefly observing the scenery outside, my eyes diverted to people watching. On the opposite side of the aisle, I found a gorgeous young woman. She looked to be in her early twenties. In every way, her coloring was absolutely stunning. Her dark hair was as thick as the mane of a horse, her skin was rich and creamy, and her nearly black eyes were somewhat enlarged through the lenses of the oversized glasses on her face. But her clothes were completely contradictory to her beauty. She wore an extra-large sweater covered with a navy pea coat, baggy jeans cinched snuggly around her narrow waist by a cotton belt, and menís black work shoes with thick socks. Still, I was mesmerized by her loveliness.
"I know I look a fright," she said removing her glasses.
"What?" I answered realizing Iíd been staring at her shoes.
"I do modeling. Weíre working on catalogue photos for next summer. Mostly, I get hired for close-ups of my legs and feet. Wearing loose-fitting shoes and clothes help me avoid calluses and chaffing. Besides, theyíre warm."
She squinted and smiled before returning the glasses to her face with one hand. Despite the unattractive clothing, I had serious thoughts of jumping her right there in the aisle. Her magnificent appearance could not be hidden.
"Iím on my way to my first swim suit shoot."
"On a cold day like this?" I remarked.
"They donít normally use my face in photos so Iím really excited. They wonít let me wear contacts during a shoot either. Iím so blind without glasses," she added. "I like your glasses. Iím a big fan of larger frames. Yours are the perfect size for such a delicate face. But, you seem sort of young to wear bifocals. You know thatís really hot!"
I could only think about kissing her lips and neck as we continued our conversation. The ride ended much earlier than I wanted. As we parted, she handed me a small piece of paper. I smiled, wished her luck, and opened the note. It read: Ď555-6989, call me soon, Candi.í Sheíd drawn a small star to dot the Ďií. Holy shit. Now I was being passed notes like a thirteen year old, except that Iíd never received a note that was a proposition from another girl.
As I walked to the office, I caught some more ladies flirting with me as we passed. One even winked. The guys were . . . . . well, just guys. None of them seemed appealing nor attracted to me. I didnít know how to interpret my feelings. Iíd never even gone through an "experimental stage" in college when I was willing to undergo relations with another woman. My girl friends have always been just that. Friends!
Throughout the morning my thoughts persisted. I couldnít keep my six eyes off the girls. Nothing about men felt inviting. We were leaving early that day for an office party, so I skipped lunch. I had an important presentation to give in the early afternoon and I needed to practice in my office. Since I was using a data show, I switched back to my progressives. I wanted the confidence of having my best looks.
While giving my presentation, I felt the opposite. The women in the room looked bored and uninterested. The men were attentive and engaged. Several asked questions as we progressed. Two of the men seemed tempting even though I knew each was seriously involved already. When we finished, I dismantled equipment and gathered my thoughts. What the hell was going on? How could I run so hot and cold? Why had I even found other women captivating? Why were they so charmed by me?
In my office, I put some things away then freshened up. I locked my door and headed for the elevator. The party was for a major client and our firm was basically hosting all of their employees. It was our way of showing gratitude to their leadership but getting Ďbuy iní from their staff at the same time. The banquet room on the first floor of our building had been reserved for our use. As had been done many times before, the room was exquisitely decorated and catered.
Most of my co-workers and I were mingling trying to meet employees from the client firm. I had grabbed my first martini, when I heard a manís voice.
"Addison? Addison Marshall, is that you?"
I turned to see the familiar face of a man holding a martini glass of his own.
"Oh, my god. It is you. Iím Tristan Johns. We went to the same high school."
Tristan, who graduated a year before me, had been rather slight and unassuming back then. Now I was looking at a handsome man, a bit taller, who obviously worked out to stay fit. We began to relive the years we shared as well as the ones weíd missed. Martinis were consumed with vigor as we reminisced. Unlike the usual business parties, this night flew by much too rapidly.
"Every time I heard that Elvis Costello song, I thought about you," Tristan said.
"You know the one that goes Addison, I know this world is killing you," he spoke making no attempt to sing.
"Thatís Alison, you goober," I smirked.
"I know. But it made more sense to me when I used your name. Iíd always imagined youíd be married with kids by now."
"I think you were imagining someone else," I responded.
Finally he asked, "I donít live far from here. Would you like to go to my flat to continue our conversation?"
I wanted to do more than talk, but I agreed to go. We decided it would be a tad more professional to leave separately so we met down the block to catch a cab. By the time we arrived at Tristanís flat, neither of us was concerned with conversation. Though, I suppose moaning and screaming can be considered a primitive form of discussion.
The next morning, I awoke to the banging of pots and pans. I grabbed my glasses from the nightstand, and saw a manís robe draped over a chair next to my side of the bed. It obviously had been left for my use. I pulled it on and walked barefooted towards the noise dragging two feet of robe on the floor behind me. I discovered in reverse that my clothes left a trail from the front door to the bedroom. In the kitchen, Tristan smiled and handed a full cup of coffee to me.
"Do you know how much I had a crush on you in high school?" he asked.
This time flashing my Ďcoy-but-still-shit-eatingí grin, I said simply, "Yes".
"You did? Why didnít you ever show it outwardly? I was mad for you."
"I was a sixteen year old girl, Tristan, with issues. Nobody wanted a skinny little nerd, with thick glasses who made straight ĎAís in classes."
"I did. You canít imagine the things I dreamt of doing to you and your glasses."
His face flushed with embarrassment when he realized his admission had been said aloud. Stated that way, Iím sure he felt sophomoric. I found it incredibly sexy. After a few more sips of coffee, we went back to bed to continue the conversation from the previous night. Breakfast could wait.
Weíd had a wonderful night and morning together. Since Tristan had to catch a late afternoon flight to attend a business conference, we parted ways. After exchanging phone numbers, we agreed to get together when he returned the next week. I went home, cleaned my apartment for a while, and then settled in to do some recreational reading. My mind kept wandering, though. Despite my tryst with Tristan, I was still perplexed by the feelings I had been having. How could I be so focused at one time on the guys like Colton and Tristan, but at other times be unable to concentrate on anything other than the girls like, Kate, Deborah, and Candi?
It was Saturday night, I was bored, and it seemed like the right time to do some product research. From my purse, I dug out the note that I had received on the train on Friday morning and dialed the number.
"This is Candiís cell phone, may I help you?" a male voice answered.
"Hi, may I speak to Candi?" I inquired.
"Sure, give her a minute. Sheíll be right here."
After a brief wait I heard, "Hello, this is Candi."
"Hi, this is Addison. I met you on the train yesterday. I was calling to see if youíd like to get drinks or something but I see you already have company."
"Who, Kurt? Heís my roommate. He doesnít count. But, I remember you. Iíd love to go out. How about we follow up drinks with a movie?"
"Fantastic. I found this neat little pub named Winkerbeanís . . ."
"I love that place!" she interrupted. "Is seven too early?"
By 6:45 p.m. I was sitting in a booth in a dark corner drinking my first martini. I figured this experiment would require several pre-drinks. Iíd managed to down two and was working on the third by the time Candi arrived fashionably late. I wasnít the only one who noticed her arrival. She was scorching. Wearing a tight sweater, miniskirt, and five-inch heels, I waved until she found me. Despite her use of a very trendy pair of glasses, it was cute as hell the way she squinted to see me. Though, as great as she looked, I felt nothing for her in the way that I felt for Tristan earlier.
"You look ten feet tall with those shoes, girl," I complimented.
"Thanks, but Iím only five-six. Iím not tall enough to be a runway model. Iíll always be stuck doing catalogues and magazine ads but Iím not complaining."
"Yeah, well, when youíre only five-oh like me, everyone seems tall."
I could tell that the spark between us on the day before was missing. She was cordial and pleasant but seemed distant.
"You look nice, too. Those are snazzy cat-eyes. Are they new?"
"Yes, I bought two new pairs recently."
"I liked the glasses you were wearing yesterday. They were gorgeous. Did you bring them?"
"With my prescription, I always keep spares nearby," I explained while sliding their case out of my small purse. "Theyíre kind of big and have the bifocal lenses so they make me feel kind of . . ."
"Hot!" she interrupted. "Put them on!"
I removed the cat-eyes, laid them on the table, unfolded the bifocals, placed them on my face, and returned my gaze to Candi. She smiled deviously, folded the cat-eyes, placed them in my case, and shoved it into my purse.
"We wonít need these anymore tonight," she purred while wrinkling her nose.
She placed her hand behind my head. It felt cool and sensual on my neck just as Kateís hand had felt. Firmly, she forced my head forward until our lips met. I provided no resistance and willingly accepted her kiss. Her lips were soft and her breath was sweet. Iíd lost all inhibitions. It didnít matter to me who might be watching or what they thought. To hell with convention! With one hand, Candi reached for my martini and drank the rest of it slowly as her other hand grasped mine. She positioned one wet cherry between my lips and gently pushed it deep inside my mouth with her finger. Still fondling my palm, she placed the other cherry between her own lips, and pushed it in with the same finger.
"Do you live near here?" she whispered provocatively.
I shook my head to answer yes but my eyes stayed fixated on hers.
"Letís go there now."
We made love until morning. Candi touched me in ways I had never been touched. I reciprocated by doing things I had never done. My senses experienced pleasure and obsession like never before. When I awoke after that night of passion, I felt such peace. The contrasts between that night and the previous one were beyond my imagination. And yet, the resemblances I felt between my two partners, was astounding. It was almost as though I had been two different people. Thatís when I understood that I had found the one person that I am. Perhaps Iíd never known my inner self before. I came to the realization that I was one of the lucky few that are capable of loving so many. There was one question remaining. Which glasses should I wear?