It was, by any description, a rather bizarre invitation. I was enjoying an unexpected respite from a business trip to New York City and my labours concluded early so I thought it to be a good opportunity to stroll the fabled Great White Way … albeit in the day time. I was contemplating what to do that evening as my aeroplane did not leave until the next day when a quite well dressed and well groomed young man approached me, spoke my name and after verbal confirmation of my identity handed me a vellum envelope. Inside was a hand engraved invite to a Garden Party to be held that evening on the roof of a very exclusive hotel. It was even more bizarre in that it was not signed nor did it reveal who was holding the fest but it was personally made out to me.
My curiosity piqued, I arrived punctually at the appointed time, presented my self to the concierge as directed, and was whisked by an express lift to the top of the building. Upon entering and beholding the diverse citizenry there began to feel as if I indeed had passed through a looking glass into a parallel universe.
I was first greeted by a casually dressed … in the U.S. I would imagine they thought of him as a geek … young man wearing what seemed to be exceptionally strong horn rimmed glasses. As we spoke it was obvious he was in charge of the party (but I didn’t dare ask why I was invited) and it became equally obvious he was a person of great technical abilities, which one would imagine served him well in the era in which we live. He was flanked by a strikingly similar young gent who spoke very little, but from his accent I deduced that he quite probably was of Slovakian origin. He too affected quite strong lenses and mentioned in passing he hosted a popular literary and photographic website.
After a warm greeting I was advised to obtain a beverage of my choice from a large and well-appointed bar along one wall and then to circulate, and I readily accepted those instructions, with a pint of Guinness. It was immediately apparent that every single person in the modest sized crowd was wearing eyewear of some type, and the range of both frames and lenses was extremely diverse in keeping with the individuals themselves. I shall attempt to describe them but for some reason my usually keen memory isn’t functioning as it usually does.
A most fascinating individual was wearing very large metal frames, with a browbar, of the type favoured by males some 3 or 4 decades ago. The lenses were the thickest I have ever seen anywhere, almost to the point of being something from a science fiction cinema. He wore a full beard, and was a most excellent conversationalist, which would suggest that he would also be a most literate writer should he so choose. But he stated that his entire life he had been a “Knight Of The Road”, a long haul tractor truck driver. Be that as it may, he had amassed an incredible knowledge of all things optical and stated he had, indeed, written a number of essays on the topic.
The bearded one had quite an entourage who seemed eager to share in his experiences, but not of the magnitude of his companion. Although the companion was constantly disclaiming that he was not an optical professional, all of the technical questions from his large following were answered with great precision and it was obvious he was highly knowledgeable of the subject matter. Strangely, in some ways he was interchangeable with the lorry driver and they seemed to morph into one person at times and then separate and stand distinctly apart. Either the Guinness was getting to my cranium or perhaps I needed another to clear my head. So I detoured once again to the bar.
A most interesting chap was wearing a tuxedo and seated at a grand piano, which he played magnificently, mostly the music of the old classical masters. I took a seat nearby and listened intently. When he finally took a break and I could approach him for a chat, he stated in a distinctive Scottish brogue that in all probability due to his own long standing myopia, he had developed a love for all people in glasses, particularly those of the female persuasion. He very candidly stated that he was quite given to those of that gender with fair complexions, blonde hair, and wearing plastic black rimmed eyewear with wide temples.
There was also a gentleman standing apart and alone from the rest, I suspect he was of Eastern European descent as he reminded me of an Armenian-American I once knew. As he seemed to be a bit of a loner I made it a point to approach him for a chat and learned he was from what they now call Middle America, and a successful business man with a penchant for ladies with myopia and the more myopia the better. He confessed that he felt somewhat shunned as he had hosted one of the more popular websites that bore the name of some kind of “Report”, I didn’t catch the first word, but he was no longer able to keep it updated, much to the chagrin of his followers. Pity.
It was becoming, as Alice said “curiouser and curiouser”, and while talking with these blokes was indeed interesting and enlightening, after all is said and done I am a flaming heterosexual and while the females were few and far between was able to corner a few.
The first was gorgeously middle aged, and her spectacles were outstanding. Large, colorful plastic rims were accentuated by temples that attached to the front of the frame at the bottom, then gracefully swept upwards at an angle to once again journey straight back to loop over her ears. She spoke with a strange accent, even for Yanks, and said she was from a city that was known for great baseball (being somewhat less than civilized, the citizens of this country eschew cricket for that aberration of the game) but that her team would not make it to the championships this year as their position was usurped by a club name after a red bird. Strange indeed. But she waxed enthusiastic over her glasses and when asked if they were real or just decorative she readily whipped them off and handed them to me for inspection. They, like what everyone else was wearing, contained a substantial prescription. This gave me pause to ponder if there was something in the water over here in the Colonies, and made a mental note to stick with the pints of Guinness the affable barman was serving me.
There were two much younger ladies in a heated discussion off to one side of the room, one wearing stylish glasses that seemed to have little power in them and the other wearing none. Strolling by them I could not resist engaging in some eavesdropping, apparently the one sans glasses needed them and had them but could not bring herself to wear them in public whilst the other was in vain trying to convince her friend of the benefits. As the non-wearing girl was hobbled by crutches and squinting heavily to focus, it seemed most strange.
Another young lady was quite the opposite, wearing a substantial prescription herself but surrounded by bespectacled males. Again in my eavesdropping mode, I distinctly heard her state a preference for males who wore eyewear, something to the effect of making passes at men with glasses. Near her was an attractive even younger girl wearing what were apparently prescription sunglasses of some strength, and when given the opportunity boasted of how she was able to obtain any prescription she wished by borrowing other’s glasses and having them copied; she had a distinctive accent and name, I believe her name started with “Joisey” or something to that effect.
And then it happened. As I was preparing to leave, I espied what appeared to be some sort of display in a far corner and as it was surrounded by exquisitely well dressed, tall and attractive young females, I was compelled to divert my exit to investigate. Needless to say they were all wearing glasses with frames which ranged from vintage to the cutting edge of eyewear fashion; indeed, one was even wearing trial frames of the type that the optician uses to demonstrate various lenses. The subject of their attention was a photographer, obviously a talented artist and professional, and the ladies were clamoring to be the next to pose before his camera. Unfortunately something (the several pints of stout I had consumed?) told me I had best take my leave and I was saddened to think I would never be able to see the fruits of this noble photographic effort.
My hosts were nowhere to be found to be thanked, and as I made my way down the hall to the lift my mind was racing to review the magnificent characters I had rubbed elbows with over the last few hours. It seemed it was indeed a Garden Party that was missing only Yoko and her Walrus. And perchance they were there, I just didn’t see them. The lift arrived, I stepped inside, and …
“Ah, Mr. Smythe, glad to see you regain consciousness. We were concerned.”
Struggling to concentrate and squinting against the bright lights in the all-white environment I could only croak “where am I, why am I lying on this bed?”
The reply was “you’re at Bellevue Hospital, brought by ambulance, and you’ve been unconscious for a day. We won’t know for sure until we get the final reports from the laboratory, but obviously you had an alcohol induced adverse reaction to your medication and experienced an erection that lasted for more than four hours.”