Peyton’s 2nd Story
Peyton examined the faces around the large table in the formal dining room. Everyone’s attention was focused on the task at hand; that of passing dishes of food to each other. As the festive “please and thank you” phrases were offered liberally, she recognized that she was the only person wearing glasses. Focusing her eyes through the doorway, she could see that even the children sitting at the table in the breakfast nook were without. Peyton had to wonder. Was she adopted? Did she share any genetic material with this family? Would it be too much to ask for someone else to suffer vision problems with her? Just one of them! Her grandmother, who passed recently, was the last person in the family she could remember that wore glasses.
Though, for the moment, she hoped that no one else would take notice. After all, it would surely return the topic of conversation back to the one that occurred previously. Making her grand entrance earlier, to be met by her entire family at the front door, had been humbling enough. She had not expected to be roasted the moment she entered. If only she hadn’t allowed herself to be the last one to arrive.
It had been but four weeks since she first began wearing “real” glasses. The technique her eyes needed to use the lenses with the progressive prescriptions had become natural and efficient. Peyton liked that. If there is anything that a process engineer appreciates fully, it is, well, efficiency. Clearly she missed being able to see without assistance. The doctor had advised her to anticipate that. He implied that it was a sacrifice that was necessary to pacify the headaches and correct her farsighted eyes. However, with the use of glasses now, Peyton had perfect vision. That was an improvement.
The reactions of the guys at work were kind of cute. They loved the fact that they got to see her wearing glasses throughout the entire day. They no longer had to hang around her desk to catch a glimpse. Just as well; she had work to do. However, now the “admirers” followed her everywhere; down the hall, on the elevator, to the café, out the door at the end of the day. Peyton appreciated having numerous personal assistants, but at times it felt as if she was the victim of a gang stalking. But, even though it could be annoying, what woman wouldn’t love the attention? Few of the guys mentioned her glasses aloud, but it was obvious what got them going. She didn’t think of them in terms of being lewd, anymore. These men simply had a preference. It’s no different than having a fancy for curly hair, a narrow waist, or plaid miniskirts.
The girls at work were a bit more complicated. Several were thrilled that Peyton had fallen into the trappings of the “handicapped and disfigured”. But a funny thing happened. Her confidence made wearing glasses an asset. From that first Friday she walked into the office, she had never shown signs of fear. The compliments that came from both sexes had been considerable. And just to shake things up at times, Peyton enjoyed pulling the trusty black readers from her drawer to wear while working at her desk. That seemed to please onlookers, as well. It must have something to do with the familiarity . . . . . or perhaps the variety. But since the readers didn’t contain her accurate prescription, they were a little weak for the use of near tasks and mostly useless for anything else. The consequence would be the predictable dull headache behind her eyes. That would force her return to the dark red frames. No matter, they were her “signature” look now.
But, today was the day that Peyton had been dreading the most. Upon first noticing visual problems several months before, she had conferred with her mother. Her parents had recently relented to the use of reading glasses themselves. Suffering the affects of presbyopia late in life, they needed aid only for the most intricate of close work. Soon after that discussion, Peyton had bought the black readers. And though they helped, in her case they did not resolve her troubles entirely. Why couldn’t she be like the rest of her family? Peyton was the youngest of her siblings. It wasn’t fair for her to be the first one to need glasses. Her reliance was now unconditional. On the rare occasion she could manage to see without glasses at a certain distance, it would be no time at all before the insipid headache would result.
To date, her mother was the only one who new about this latest development. Neither had revealed it, yet, to anyone else in the family. Would they be surprised? Peyton worried about their reactions. Wearing glasses in front of strangers, coworkers, friends, and neighbors had not been complicated. What is it that makes relatives the most challenging? Why are they allowed to be the most critical? Isn’t family supposed to accept us unconditionally no matter what our failings?
Shaking nervously, her hand aimed for the brass door knocker. Peyton took a deep breath then exhaled gradually. With absolute trepidation she hammered the knocker three times and waited apprehensively. When the door opened, nothing could have been worse than to see the face of Troy, her gregarious older brother. Now in his early forties, he showed that insincere semblance of astonishment that she recalled from when they were children. For as long as Peyton could remember, Troy knew how to “push her buttons”.
“Look at my four-eyed baby sister!” he shouted. “Come in here. This is something everyone needs to see.”
Embarrassed, Peyton whispered towards his ear, “Troy, you are so mine. I’ll get you back, later.”
“Oooh, like I should be afraid of a skinny little girl with glasses?” he chortled.
“Peyton, you look good,” her mother exclaimed. Of course, mothers always say that.
“What fool put glasses on my little girl?” her father prodded with arms open. “I’ll murder the bum,” he added with a hug.
“I didn’t know you’re eyes were bad, Peyton.” Troy’s wife, Fran declared.
“Why do you need glasses?” inquired Eli, Peyton’s older sister.
Without responding to anyone, Peyton removed her coat and forcefully handed it to her father. She then headed directly to the kitchen to remove herself from the crowd of people. She could not have been more humiliated. Troy could still be heard in the other room.
“I can’t believe my little sister got glasses.”
“Isn’t it a hoot?” Eli added. “She’s always been the perfect one.”
Peyton figured it was better to ignore them than to exhibit alarm, something she had learned as a child. She wondered if they were listening to themselves. How could they make such statements and ask questions that are so personal? Soon, her mother followed to the kitchen to continue preparing dinner. In due course, Eli filtered in, but knew from experience to give Peyton some space for a while. By the time Fran joined to assist, the kitchen was beginning to look like a well-organized beehive of activity.
Bravely, Fran turned to Peyton and pled, “Don’t let Troy get to you. You know how he can be. When you’re not around, he talks about ‘his kid sister’ like you walk on water.”
“I can you know,” Peyton responded with a wink, “except that now, I can see the water, as well.”
“I’m sorry I teased you, too,” Eli interjected, “it was just such a surprise. Nobody warned us. You’re glasses look adorable on you. No matter what you wear, you always look so pretty.”
“I never thought anyone needed to be warned,” their mother added. “You’re father and I just got reading glasses, so I didn’t think it was a big deal.”
“You and daddy just wear yours to read, mom.” Eli reminded.
“Well, I suppose,” she replied as her voice faded.
“And you’re nearly seventy,” Eli muttered under her breath.
Dishes were delivered to the tables and everyone was called to dinner. The festivities began as the family celebrated Super Bowl Sunday. It was the first weekend since the holiday season that everyone had been able to meet. Troy and Fran had taken their children to Cancun, Mexico for Christmas. They told wonderful stories about their adventures. Of course, Troy had more fun divulging the embarrassing misadventures that had happened. As he spoke, Fran constantly rolled her eyes. Eli had gone with her new boyfriend, Kurt, to New Orleans to celebrate New Years in the French Quarter. The next day they attended the Sugar Bowl and watched the upstart Utah Utes win a huge game over the Alabama Crimson Tide. It was the first time that Eli, now forty, had ever been away from home during the holiday season. She’d had a wonderful time with Kurt.
After the feast, everyone gathered around the television in the family room to continue watching the pre-game show. The kids got their coats and ran outside to play while there was daylight. Once significantly bored, the ladies slowly faded into the living room to remove themselves from the men. After halftime, they redeployed to the kitchen to clean up. That’s when Peyton was cornered by Eli.
“What is it like, Peyton?”
“What is what like?
“You know . . . . . to wear glasses?”
“Oh, I got used to it quickly. Without glasses, I couldn’t work at my desk anymore. But my doctor told me to wear them full time. I started doing that the morning after I retrieved them from the optical store. I’ve been wearing them ever since.”
“See that’s my problem. I can’t read either. My arms aren’t long enough. Do you think I’ll need glasses full time?”
“I’m no expert, Eli, but I can give you the name of a good optometrist.”
“Troy needs glasses really badly,” Fran interrupted, “he strains to read everything especially menus in dark restaurants. It’s a good thing he’s in sales and doesn’t really have to work,” she laughed. “I don’t know why he’s such a baby about it. I can’t wait to get glasses when I’m his age. I’ve been looking forward to that for years.”
Fran turned back to her work. Eli and Peyton starred in disbelief at the back of her head without responding. Her statements had been stunning for a multitude of reasons.
Finally, Peyton redirected her attention towards her sister and suggested, “Here. Try my glasses, Eli,” holding them out with an extended hand.
Eli reached for the dark red frames and studied them for a few moments turning them around in her hands. To the touch, they felt exquisite. She was captivated by lenses, especially. They seemed akin to something much more exotic than plastic. With care, she placed the glasses on her face. After blinking for a few moments to focus, she felt her eyes relax. Eli could see that Peyton’s brow was furrowed as her eyes were feeling strained without correction. Eli picked a card out of the recipe box and began reading. She moved her head up and down searching for a focal point. Her eyes acknowledged the progressive script but her brain didn’t. Peyton observed Eli’s confusion but remained quiet giving her time for discovery. For further affirmation, Eli thumbed through a magazine she saw on the counter. Finally, she looked up and squinted across the room.
“These are great. I can read the tiniest words without effort. Everything across the room is fuzzy, though. Do you ever get used to that?”
“I guess that depends, Eli. My eyes adjusted to it. I see perfectly at every distance, now. But like mom and dad, you may not need correction to see across the room. And in case you wondered . . . . . my glasses look fantastic on you.”
“Do they? Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. You better give me the name of your eye doctor, Peyton. I want to make an appointment.”
“First, give my glasses back,” Peyton begged.
Eli was hooked. The feeling of the gorgeous glasses on her face was wonderful. She was entranced by the sensation of seeing through the clear lenses. How marvelous it would be to wear glasses as nice as Peyton’s. But how would Kurt react? For that matter, how would men in general react?
“Be prepared, Eli. Men will follow you around like a pack of dogs. They love girls with glasses.”
“Really?” she questioned, thinking that Peyton must have read her mind.
“Would I lie to my big sister?”
Later, as Troy slept in his father’s lounge chair, Peyton approached quietly. He had loosened his belt and the top button of his pants to allow his waist to expand after dinner. As she knew he would, Troy had drifted off while watching the game. The children who saw her walking on tiptoes even in high heels, gathered while shushing each other, and watched in wonder. They knew aunt Peyton had something hidden. As all eyes in the room watched, she pulled an air horn from her jacket and blew a loud blast towards the ceiling. Troy jumped from the chair, his pants fell to his feet, and he awoke to the laughter of everyone in the room. Startled and dazed, he stood there, bare legged with boxers showing, looking directly into Peyton’s magnified eyes.
She smiled deviously and glared, “You should be very afraid of skinny little girls with glasses, Troy.”