by Dieter

Madison was exhausted. She sprayed the cleanser on the table and wiped it off, realizing that her usual pleasant smile had disappeared. Her head had been pounding for hours. It was probably the smoke and loud noise. She had been working in the same pub for the last three years earning a living while attending college part time. The evening hours were the perfect time to work because that allowed her to take classes during the day. As planned, she had been careful not to overextend herself with too many classes scheduled. There were only so many hours in a day. She needed the full time job so she would have access to health benefits. But lately, it had been a real challenge to avoid the headaches.

As she finished, she headed to a different table where several customers had just been seated. She approached, took the orders of each, and then walked to the computer station to enter their order on the touch screen. "Madison, wheníre you going to get your eyes checked girl!" scolded Stella. "You wait any longer, and youíre arms wonít be long enough. Glasses fixed my problem." Stella was Madisonís best friend at the pub and had started working there a short time before her. She was an attractive lady in her forties, was especially popular with the older men, and had many regular customers that enjoyed flirting with her. "Sure thing mom, I have an appointment tomorrow", Madison reassured, "but thereís no way I need glasses like you. Iím only 22." But Madison was concerned. She was way too young to need reading glasses but something had to be done about the headaches. At a recent exam, she had been assured by her physician that her general health was fine. The blood tests that were done indicated nothing abnormal either. He suggested that the next logical step for Madison was an eye exam. Since she had never had one, it was the more likely cause of headaches. If that wasnít the problem, he told her he would recommend a specialist for allergies. But that requires a lot of testing and expense. Madison couldnít decide which fate she disliked more, dealing with allergies or needing glasses.

Being described as cute but plain was not a popular way to depict a ladyís attributes, but in Madisonís case it fit. She was petite but appeared mousey partly because the coloring of her skin and facial features. She was attractive, just not distinctive. Madison could easily disappear in a crowd. In reality, she was a dynamo of energy capable of juggling many activities at once. Her work load was anything but easy, but she had been able to handle it well. Unfortunately, this past semester had become more stressful as she began to struggle with reading and studying. As demands increased with more advanced classes, her concentration had begun to diminish. She had to fix the headaches.

While in the optometristís waiting room, Madison found it refreshing to read a magazine. She seldom had the time to read for pleasure and enjoyed the chance to examine current affairs. The only thing that ever played on the televisions at the pub was sports. Though she had little interest, Madison knew more about that subject than she ever hoped to understand. Just as she had become aware that a dull headache was beginning to make her head pound, an aid called her name. Madison was seated in an exam room and asked to hold her head back as the aid put drops in her eyes. Since this was Madisonís first eye examination, everything was a new experience. She was pleasantly relieved when the aid left the room somewhat darkened. A nap seemed inviting, so she closed her eyes and dreamed. After several relaxing minutes the optometrist entered, introduced himself, and said, "Letís get started. Read line 8 for me Madison." In the dark, he had projected a chart on the wall. With little effort she read the letters. "Good, how about line 9?" he quizzed.

Struggling, she sighed but he reassured her, "Youíre doing fine. Line 8 was 20/20, nothing wrong with that." Madison relaxed upon hearing that news.

The doctor explained that the drops administered earlier had dilated her pupils which would assist him in his examination. Quietly, he began looking into each eye with an extremely bright light. To Madison, it felt as though he was probing the inner walls of her eyes. The light created a burning sensation. After several minutes the doctor interrupted saying, "Youíre somewhat hyperopic. Did you say youíve been experiencing headaches? Letís work with the phoropter." The doctor slid the apparatus in front of her eyes and told her to rest her chin on the end of it. As Madison looked through the instrument with one eye at a time, he flipped lenses in and out causing the focus in her eyes to do the same. Eventually satisfied, he stopped, but everything on the chart seemed a little off. Then he handed her a card and asked her to position it where she was comfortable reading. She placed it about 18 inches in front of her eyes and read. Then the doctor pushed her hand to about 12 inches and said, "Read it now." Madison could see all letters effortlessly and confirmed this. "Good, good", the doctor added. Then he flipped the lenses out of the phoropter and the card went fuzzy. All of the letters were gray and unreadable. "Madison, this is what youíre seeing at 12 inches. Not much, I presume?" She shook her head. He moved the card to about 18 inches and asked, "How about now?" Somewhat stunned, she could only muster a quiet, "No." Great, she thought, reading glasses, something else to keep track of, maintain, and buy.

"Well, this should explain the reason for the headaches. Have you been having difficulty seeing things close for very long?" the doctor asked. Stretching the truth considerably, she answered, "Not really, I can read fine. Iíve been told that I hold things too far away, but I thought that was what was comfortable for me."

"Actually, youíre fairly hyperopic . . . uh, commonly known as farsighted."

"So I can see far but I need reading glasses?"

"Itís not that simple. You have been straining your eyes. In order to see, especially up close, you have been accommodating . . . compensating if you will. Iím going to give you a prescription for glasses. Now, I warn you, this is going to be a starting point. As your eyes relax and learn to focus using corrective lenses, you will need a stronger prescription. So, Iíd like to see you in a few months to reevaluate your vision and, hopefully, determine your full prescription. Iíll let you decide when its time to return."

"So I need to wear my glasses to read, Doctor?"

"Madison, you need to wear your glasses all of the time so your eyes will relax and adjust to your prescription. You are going to notice that things in the distance will be fuzzy at first. Donít worry about that. After a few days, that should clear up, so that you will be able to see at all distances when wearing glasses."

"But I donít understand, a lady I work with only wears her glasses when she needs to see up close."

"Is she older than you, Madison?"

"Uh, huh, sheís in her forties."

"Sheís presbyopic. Itís corrected with the same lenses but it corrects the fact that her eyes wonít accommodate to see close. That happens to all of us as we age. When you get there youíll need bifocals or progressives, too. Though it may not seem this way to you currently, your eyes actually donít see well at any distance and you have been accommodating causing eyestrain which, in turn, is causing the headaches. Give it a try for a week and see if the pain disappears. Iím absolutely positive, myself."

Madison was confused. The doctor wanted her to wear glasses full time even though she read the 20/20 line on the chart. It didnít seem fair. She thought the worst that would happen is she would need glasses for reading. It was hard to be pleasant, but she grudgingly thanked the doctor as he led her through the waiting room to the optical shop next door. There, he introduced her to an agreeable, slightly plump, young man named Roger. "I guess I need to pick out some frames," Madison said while handing her prescription to him. The paper stated: OD +2.00 -.75 x 80, OS +2.00 -.50 x 95. "Hyperopic with some astigmatism", he stated, "well are there any styles you prefer?" Sheíd never thought of that before. "I donít know. These are my first glasses. What do you suggest?" she asked. "Letís try some", he replied, "With your pretty face, thereís so many options." Madison blushed, but appreciated his kind words.

Roger was right. There were too many frames that looked good on her. But with his assistance, she began to find it rather fun. This was the first time she had ever considered the different shapes and colors of frames from which glasses could be made. There were options to be considered concerning the lenses as well. Madison had never known that glasses were so complicated. But Roger continually reminded her to take her time and chose wisely because she would be seen wearing the frames she selected full time. The only problem was she had to step back from the mirrors a bit to see herself well. Before today, she had never realized that. After many decisions, Madison finally settled on a very modern pair that was an oval shape with the fully wide temple pieces. She was concerned at first that they were rather bold, but Roger convinced her that she would look smashing. Then he said, "Now run along for a while. They should be done in about an hour."

When Madison returned, Roger had a huge smile on his face and said, "Youíre going to love these, honey. They will look so good on you." Madison doubted that but valued the compliment. He placed the glasses on her face and began to adjust them. She could instantly focus on his face and everything else up close much better. Her eyes wandered around the room each time he positioned them on her. The best view was in the mirror when she saw herself. Roger was right. The dark brown frames added color to her face. She loved the ivory color on the inside of the temple pieces, too. Their texture added contrast to her light brown hair that seemed to create highlights. Her normally pale hazel eyes popped with shades of color for the first time ever. But the lenses . . . "Roger the lenses make my eyes look large. Is this how Iíll always look?"

"Yes, Madison, plus lenses will magnify your eyes some. Donít worry. You look really nice."

By the time Roger finished adjusting the frames, it was time for her to head to the pub. Fortunately, the sun had just set so there was no reason to wear those cardboard sunglasses she had been given. It seemed like hours since her eyes had been dilated but her pupils were still larger than normal. The drive across town was disturbing as everything in the distance was just a little out of focus. Madison wasnít sure this even seemed like a good idea; driving without perfect vision. But she was most concerned about what everyone would say at work. Would people think she looked "fish eyed" with these lenses? When she walked in, Stella stopped dead in her tracks. "Wow, you got glasses? I didnít expect you to get them this fast, Stell. Can you see well?"

Madison replied, "I can see up close but everything in the distance is blurry."

"Well, takeíem off when you need to."

"Iím not supposed to. The doctor told me to wear them all the time until my eyes adjust."

"Gosh, Madison, I couldnít see anything if I wore my glasses full time."

"Thatís because youíre old, Stella", Madison teased.

"Anyway, they look great on you kid. Sexy!" Stella exclaimed.

"Really? It feels so weird to have something on my face. You donít think they make my eyes look big?"

As the evening progressed, Madison was surprised by the attention she got from some of the guys. They were doing a lot of "double-takes" when she passed. She felt like everyone was starring. It did seem like they were leaving big tips for her, though.

"Whatís a guy got to do to get a beer, pretty lady?"

Madison turned to see who was getting fresh and was surprised to see Dennis, a graduate assistant from school. He often came to the pub on Monday nights to watch football.

"Whatíll it be, Mister?" she responded.

"Oh, give me a draft. Great glasses, Madison, are they new?"

"Yeah, I just got them today."

"I havenít seen you wearing glasses before. Contacts bothering you?"

"No, these are my first glasses."

"Lucky girl, Iíve been wearing glasses since age twelve. Well, they suite you, Madison. Hey, would you like to go out sometime?"

"Sure, Dennis, my next night off is next Friday."

"Perfect, itís a date then! Give me your phone number and Iíll call."

And Madison did. Hmmm, she thought, these glasses might not be so bad after all. And when she gathered things up at the end of her shift, the most remarkable thing happened. She didnít have a headache.

Through the rest of that week and the next, Madison wore her glasses most of the time as she had been asked. She wasnít crazy about wearing them full time but she thought sheíd try it like the doctor asked. She couldnít get used to the idea of being "the girl with glasses." One thing that was particularly odd was seeing her reflection in mirrors and store-front windows. The lady in that image always wore glasses and looked exactly like Madison.

Something that caught her by complete surprise was the reactions of other people. She had expected some friends to give her a good teasing about "being old" needing reading glasses or being blind. But that never happened, not from anyone. In fact, just the opposite had incurred. Most friends had made a point to comment but they did so very positively. She had been told she looked smarter, more sophisticated, more approachable, more mature, younger, prettier, and even more fashionable. They were nice adjectives when used in the appropriate context. But the one that Madison expected the least was being described as happier. She assumed that description was used because she wasnít squinting to see or desperately trying to fight off a headache. And that was another thing. Despite whatever she had done, attended classes, read, studied, watched television, or worked at the pub, she had not experienced a headache since she began wearing glasses the first day. Apparently, she didnít have allergies.

Many acquaintances at school instantly became her new best friend as each of them shared their pain and experiences with her. Each had a different story. Some began wearing glasses just last year and remembered exactly how she felt. Others had been wearing them since they were age ĎXí. Some were completely dependent on eyewear. Others could see well enough without, and of course, wore glasses only when needed. Some others couldnít stand wearing glasses and wore contacts instead but shared her plight, nonetheless. The biggest surprise of all was the guys. They couldnít take their eyes off Madison. Men were bumping into her everywhere. They made up obviously contrived conversation starters just to get a chance to talk with her and the good thing was they stared at her face, not at other places. It was obvious that glasses added dimension to her looks and personality. Madison no longer disappeared in the crowd.

The magnification of her eyes through the lenses became a non-issue as well. Madison had found that few people possessed any understanding of the differences in lenses and their uses. Since the vast majority of her friends were nearsighted, they related to visual experiences as only a myope could. To them, everyone wore glasses because they couldnít see things in the distance. Even the few that knew the term farsighted thought, like Madison once did, that hyperopes had difficulty in seeing only objects that were near as if they were exact opposites of their myopic counterparts. And astigmatism Ė nobody understood that malady. So many visual problems - so little understanding. But for sure, Madison had come to the realization that all fears of vanity about wearing glasses, were strictly in her own mind. Few others really cared.

Friday after classes, Madison decided it was time to give her looks a break. Sheíd been good for almost two weeks and as the doctor had asked wore her glasses constantly. It was time to get ready for her date with Dennis and tonight she was going without them. And, she wanted to give her nose time to "heal" from the "dents". She cleaned her glasses and put them in her purse. She could dig them out if she needed to read a menu. Madison took a long relaxing bath and caught a nap in the tub. Later she slid into her sexy black dress and slipped on patent leather platform pumps with four-and-one-half-inch heals. She was going all out tonight. Madison struggled, as she had all week, to fix her face. Since she started wearing glasses, she could no longer focus on near things at all. Today was the worst it had been. She had to figure out a better way to apply makeup.

By the time Dennis arrived, Madisonís head was throbbing. Her face was showing the pain when she answered the door.

"Hi, gorgeous! Whoa, sad face. Whatís wrong, lady?"

"Iím sorry, Dennis, Iíve got a dull headache. I wonít let it ruin the night. I promise."

"You need me to give you my world famous cranial massage?" he asked as he gently rubbed her temples.

"Ooh, that feels nice." she purred. After a few minutes of pampering she felt much better, but by the time she got in the car the headache was coming back. But that was only the beginning. On the drive across town, Madison began to realize her vision was horrible. Especially in the dark, she could see little in the distance. She wanted to cry.

"Dennis, Iím sorry but Iím going to have to wear my glasses."

"Donít be sorry, Madison. Iím wearing mine."

"Yes, you are and you look spectacular." Oops. "Did I just say that out loud?"

"Yes, you did." he said laughing. "It feels good to be ogled."

"This has been too much for me. The optometrist said glasses would fix my headaches and they have. He told me that I would be able to see things up close better, and that was obvious the first moment I put them on. But when he told me that eventually I would be able to see at all distances I didnít know that he meant that my eyes would give up trying and I wouldnít be able to see at all. Glasses have ruined my vision. I canít see near or far without them."

"Itís OK, Madison. Glasses havenít ruined your vision. Theyíve just corrected it. Itís all a matter of how you look at it. Itís no big deal. I have to wear mine all the time."

"You donít understand, Dennis. I had 20/20 vision before this week. Now I bet I canít pass the eye test for a driverís license. Because I started wearing glasses, I have relinquished my perfect eyesight. I will have to wear my glasses for everything I do. I didnít want to be totally dependent! And in a few months Iím supposed to go back to the doctor so he can give me even stronger lenses."

As she slid her glasses on her face, Dennis stopped the car, gently embraced her face with both hands and gave her a long passionate kiss. "Madison, there wonít be a moment that I wonít enjoy looking into your beautiful eyes with glasses on your face. I always thought you were attractive, but when I saw you last Monday night, you were the sexiest woman alive. Every time Iíve closed my eyes since then, I see you. I canít think of anything else."

By the time they arrived at the restaurant, Madisonís headache was gone. Everything was clear literally and figuratively. It wasnít that she minded wearing glasses anymore. Her concerns of vanity had passed. In fact, she rather liked her new image. It was obvious that glasses had been an improvement to her life in several ways. She wasnít thrilled with the idea of being dependent but then . . . there were dependencies much worse than wearing glasses. The rest of the evening was absolutely spectacular. They ate, they laughed, and they drank wine. Later they listened to poetry readings and folk music at a nearby coffee house. When they finally arrived back at Madisonís apartment, she invited Dennis inside. After closing the door, Madison returned the passionate kiss from earlier that evening to an eager Dennis. Before their embrace ended, she had begun undressing him. The last thing either of them removed was their glasses.