Janelle

by Dieter

The summer after my second year of college I met Janelle. She was the younger sister of my best friendís girlfriend. I wasnít working during that break because I had enrolled in extra classes that I needed to get out of the way so that I would graduate on schedule. I wasnít too excited about the classes because I expected them to be dull, Economics and American History. I was wrong but thatís not the story I want to tell here.

What made that summer special for my best friend, JD, and I was the fact that we were playing in a rock band. The two of us had worked for a year to try to organize a band. After several false starts and other frustrations we had been asked to join an existing band that wanted to augment its sound with some "new blood". Having even changed their name, our new band had played several prom dances at high schools in the region to close out the school year. Because of that, we had begun to gather a following of new fans in addition to the fans of the old sound. We had formulated a plan for a series of self-promoted dances at different venues such as recreation centers and lodges. Friends and girlfriends would work the doors as cashiers and bouncers. The end of the summer was to be capped by an outdoor concert promoted by the biggest rock radio station in the area. We had been invited to share the band shell in a large city park with three other bands for an entire Sunday afternoon event.

But rock and roll stars need hot girlfriends and I currently was without. Sheryl, JDís girlfriend had the answer. I was skeptical when she suggested her little sister who was still in high school. I got over that pretty quickly after the first time I saw Janelle. She was incredibly petite but curvy, thin yet fit. Janelleís dark brown hair hung nearly to the small of her back. She had unusual brownish green eyes that looked almost golden. She carried herself in an athletic manner and walked with a muscular bounce but not like a jock. Upon meeting, it was obvious that we were attracted to one another.

One thing that I had considered before meeting Janelle was the fact that Sheryl wore contacts because I had seen her fuss with them often. Their brother, Gerry, who attended our college on a football scholarship, wore glasses also. It seemed likely that Janelle might wear some form of correction as well. But on the first few dates, which included a dance our band played, there were no signs of anything. She never mentioned any need of eyewear or seemed to struggle to see anything and I was reluctant to bring up the subject. I had recently found that I was mildly nearsighted and was uncomfortable wearing the glasses that had been prescribed for me. Even though I loved glasses on girls, I was shy about wearing them myself. And soon, I found that Janelle didnít wear contacts like her sister. When kissing, I had been within inches of her pretty eyes and could see for myself. She didnít even squint to see things. Not that it was a great disappointment to me because Janelle was so easy to look at. But, to an optical obsessive, it definitely would make her "top shelf" stuff.

One thing I really liked about Janelle was her independence. She happily did her own thing and would willingly go anywhere with me. Janelle had left home to share an apartment with Sheryl that summer. They said it was easier to get a summer job in our small college town than in the little town where they lived. I knew that was true because I had driven through their town once and the business district consisted of nothing more than a post office, a service station, and a small grocery store. Janelle shared a car with her two older siblings which meant she got to use it very little. Gerry lived on campus in a dormitory reserved for athletes so the car was ferried between Sheryl and Gerry constantly.

When summer concluded, Janelle went home to finish her last year in high school with the promise that she would return the next year to begin her college career. I got on with things as the fall session started. Neither of us kept in touch because we knew it would be pointless. Her town was a five hour drive from the campus. Through that year Sheryl gave me an occasional update and though I dated other girls, I definitely looked forward to Janelleís return.

As promised Janelle began her freshman year as I began my final year. The week before classes started, we began dating again. She had gained maturity that made her even more desirable. One evening, Janelle called to ask if I would like to go to the grocery store with her. When I agreed, she said she would be by in a few minutes to pick me up. Waiting on the sidewalk in the late dusk light, her car arrived. But sitting behind the steering wheel was a young woman wearing glasses. I almost gasped with surprise when I realized it was Janelle. I eagerly opened the door and jumped in the car. She looked spectacular! Her glasses were the "school boy" fashion that was so stylish at that time. The shape was perfect for her face and eyebrows but the dark tortoiseshell plastic frames accented her eyes and hair color beyond belief. She seemed taken aback when I immediately gave her a long kiss grasping the back of her head with my hand. I really enjoyed touching the earpiece behind her ear with my fingers. I seemed like such an intimate place to me. She closed her eyes but I didnít. I had too much to watch.

As we drove through town, I could barely stop staring. But I had to stop because I was making her self-conscious. I donít think Janelle had received that kind of reaction form anyone before. She could tell that I was pleased, but it must have been the first time that she felt attractive in that way. The most amazing thing of all was the strength of her lenses. They werenít glasses for the casually nearsighted like me. They had some serious cut-in and power rings. And something else I noticed is that the lenses seemed to "stretch" and distort her eyes horizontally. That was the first time I found myself attracted to the lenses in a girls glasses. How on earth could she function when not wearing those glasses?

It was a question that would go unanswered. The moment we arrived at the store before even opening the car door, Janelle removed her glasses and carried them in her hand. She put them on for only moments at a time to see things on the top shelves as we moved through the store. She never squinted or attempted to strain to see anything probably because that was futile for her to do. When we returned to the car, without hesitation, she put her glasses on before starting the engine. She made no excuses for her eyesight, showed no embarrassment for having to wear glasses, but wore them when it was the right thing to do.

The whole time that I knew her, she wore glasses only when she had to. She never complained about wearing them, how she looked, or what she couldnít see. But she seldom wore glasses for anything other than driving, watching football games, during marching band rehearsals, and once when we went to a movie. I heard she wore them when she attended lectures but I never shared a class with her. One time I saw her watching television sitting three feet from the screen with her glasses perched in her hair.

I truly did not know how myopic she was until one day in the kitchen of her apartment. She was standing by a small dining table on the side opposite from the wall. She was no more than five feet away from a large clock hanging on that wall when she turned to me and asked while pointing, "What time does that clock say?" Without hesitation, my slightly nearsighted eyes read the clock from three times the distance before I replied. I was absolutely in awe at how she could walk across campus or cross a busy street without glasses. I learned more one afternoon when Sheryl and Janelle got into a conversation that I "overheard" while I was watching television in the next room with JD. After exchanging glasses, they agreed that Janelleís prescription was much stronger than Sherylís -4.00. But Sheryl thought the reason she couldnít wear Janelleís glasses was because of all the correction for astigmatism. Janelle just replied that Sherylís glasses hardly made a difference and seemed kind of weak. I guessed that the astigmatism correction accounted for the stretching phenomena in her lenses. I once put her glasses on when she left them on a table. Everyone had left the room, so I thought I would sneak a try. The lenses twisted my eyes in so many directions that I could not focus on anything. My glasses were incredibly weak in comparison. I never knew what her prescription was, but I know that it had to be powerful and complex.

Janelle seldom was very demonstrative but I wonder if that was because she did not recognize faces or their expressions. She was enthusiastic during times of intimacy and had great passion. Every moment she was wearing glasses, I couldnít keep my hands off of her. But once we starting kissing, she would remove her glasses and lay them nearby. I wanted so badly for her to wear them all the time but I never told her that. I tried very hard to be around her at times that she wore glasses but it truthfully was tough. She seldom drove when we went anywhere. I could only look at her from across the room or across the field in marching band rehearsals since I didnít sit near her. The best time to catch glimpses of her was at football games. It seemed as if she just didnít need clear vision to accomplish most tasks in her day.

When the fall semester ended, I moved home to start an internship. I only returned to campus a few times for meetings with advisors. At the end of that year, I graduated. Janelle and I lost track and interest in each other as each of us continued our lives in separate cities. The next year, I returned for Homecoming and attended the football game. Janelle was no longer in the marching band because she had become a cheerleader. I had never thought of her in that role but she looked fantastic. And, she only wore her glasses for moments to watch the game but would remove and place them on a bench before turning to face the grandstands. I still was in awe. I spoke to her briefly during a break but we had little time to get past courteous greetings.

I never saw Janelle again. I donít know what major she chose or if she even completed college. Though Sheryl and JD were married before our senior year, he died tragically in an aviation accident about ten years later. That was about nine years after the last time I saw him. All of us drifted in different directions. I often wondered why I didnít commit more effort towards knowing Janelle. There were so many things that I found fantastic about her. Perhaps if she had worn her glasses fulltime . . . . .

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