Jim and I sat down at the cafeteria table in the mall food court to hold our spots while our daughter Annie went to the counter to order for the 3 of us. I looked over at Jim, and was surprised to see the look of lust in his eyes, and in his expression. I glanced in the direction he was looking, and I saw Annie placing our order, her eyes squinting myopically behind the thick lenses of her glasses. My first thought was "Oh darned, I hope she doesn’t need a stronger prescription already." My second thought was "The son of a bitch is lusting after our 15 year old daughter." I was just about to give him a piece of my mind when Annie came over to the table with the first tray of food, and I noticed that Jim was still staring, with the same rapt look. I looked again to see what he was staring at, and this time I saw that it wasn’t Annie, but instead was the lady that was in line behind Annie. I couldn’t imagine what it was about this lady that captivated Jim, the lady was rather plain looking, nowhere near as well endowed as I am, and she wore funny looking glasses. She picked up her tray, and began walking towards us. I could see that her glasses were strong – so strong that all the prescription was in a little circle about the size of a quarter directly in front of her eyes. And suddenly I knew. Now everything was perfectly clear. All the times Jim had stared at women over the last 22 years came to mind. Every one he looked at this way wore glasses – strong glasses. So many things became clear to me in just a flash.
Before I was married my name was Rebecca Anderson. Everyone started out calling me Becca, but I didn’t like that, so I made them change it to Bekki. I was raised in a small town – a population of 600 if you counted the cats and dogs is what everyone always said. My mom cleaned house for any of the ladies in town who could afford to hire someone to do this service, and my dad worked sometimes. Well, it really wasn’t my dad’s fault that he couldn’t hold a job. You see, my dad never learned how to read or write. My dad wasn’t stupid or anything. He could do figures in his head faster than most anybody. He was a good man, and a hard worker, but all he was was hired help. Mom kept the house clean, and dad kept everything in the best possible repair he could. He painted almost every house in town, and when the job was done, I remember him bringing home the left over paint, and mixing it all together. When dad had enough paint to paint our house, it was a mixture of everyone’s colors. Most always we managed to get used to the color by the time he was ready to paint it again.
Because my dad couldn’t read or write he felt that it was important that I learned. So, by the age of 3 I was being taught how to read by Miss Mac Donald, the primary grade teacher at the school. Dad painted her house in return for her lessons. Once I learned how to read, I didn’t seem to be able to stop. By the age of 12 I think I had read every book in our local library – which consisted of a few shelves of books in an unused room at the school. Probably all the reading I did was a contributing factor to my being unable to see things clearly any more than a few feet away from the end of my nose by age 13.
I didn’t bother telling my parents that I was having trouble seeing the chalkboard at school. They didn’t have any extra money to buy me a pair of glasses, nor did I want to wear glasses. I was able to hide the fact that I couldn’t see very well for much of the year that I was in grade 7. I sat I the front row, and if there was something that I was not able to copy from the blackboard, one of my friends usually leant me their notes for me to copy after school. When school was dismissed for the summer holidays I was relieved. My teacher had not discovered my secret.
When I went back to school that fall I was horrified. Even sitting in the front row I couldn’t see anything that was written on the board. And, my teacher really had noticed that I was having trouble seeing the previous spring. When I showed up without glasses for the beginning of school in the fall she sent a note home to my parents suggesting that I should have my eyes examined by a doctor. So, I had my eyes tested, and of course a pair of glasses was prescribed. My parents somehow found enough money to pay for these glasses, and now I was expected to wear them. I resisted for quite a while, only putting them on when it was absolutely essential that I could see things clearly.
I must admit that glasses did help me earn better grades that first year. I passed into high school as an honor student. And, by the time summer came I had become a full time glasses wearer. I didn’t like wearing glasses, but I disliked the blur that I saw when I wasn’t wearing them. When I returned to school the next fall I discovered that I couldn’t see the board clearly even with my glasses on. So, I told my parents, and I had another eye exam. My new lenses were going to be –3.50D, a whole diopter stronger than my other lenses.
By the time I graduated from high school I had required a number of prescription increases. My glasses now were –8.50D. They were quite thick, and I thought they were ugly, but I had no choice but to wear them, as I couldn’t see much of anything without them. I could still read without them, but this meant that I had to hold my book uncomfortably close to my face, so I usually wore my glasses even for reading.
After graduation I left my hick town where I grew up and moved to the nearest city. I took a secretarial course, and I was eventually hired as an office worker for an insurance agent. My first paycheck went for rent, and my second one bought me my first pair of contact lenses. Since I got my first pair of contact lenses I have never again appeared in public wearing glasses. And, once I got contact lenses my self-esteem and my confidence improved. I suppose the reason that my eyes stopped getting worse when I got contact lenses was probably because I felt so much better about my appearance, rather than anything the contact lenses actually did to help my eyes.
I met my husband Jim while I was working in the insurance business. He was a fresh out of school lawyer, and was employed by a firm in the same building. Now, over 23 years later I still wonder how he knew I wore strong glasses before we were married. At some point he must have asked something about my eyesight, as he knew I wore contacts, and I probably told him how strong my prescription was. I do know that I made sure that he never saw me wearing glasses until long after we were married.
Jim and I spent a lot of time during the first 5 years of our marriage attempting to conceive a child. Finally, after a number of miscarriages, I was able to carry my baby through to term, although the last month was spent under close supervision by my doctor, and I was pretty well restricted to bed rest during this period. But, finally our daughter Annie was ready to come into the world. Even the birth was difficult for me, and after I was recovering my doctor suggested to both Jim and I that we should probably not consider having any more children of our own, as the risk to me would be too great.
After Annie was born I experienced my first prescription increase in over 8 years. Now I required –9.25D for my new glasses prescription. I did get a new pair of glasses. Jim was very helpful assisting me in picking out the frames. I got a nice gold wire framed pair, with a small lens size in an octagonal shape. I didn’t even hate wearing them as much as I had hated my old glasses. But, it was still contact lenses for me every time I left the house. Wearing glasses in public just wasn’t an option I was willing to consider.
Annie was a great baby. When she was 6 months old I returned to work, and Jim’s mother looked after her for the next 2 years. By then Annie was ready to go to day care, and then on to nursery school. Before we knew it Annie was in grade school.
Annie was as much of a reader as I was when I was her age. She always had her head buried in a book. I didn’t think a lot of it at the time, but it seemed that every time I told Annie to move the book away from her eyes, Jim would comment that she should hold the book where she was most comfortable holding it. And, it seemed that Annie also had a tendency to sit very close to the television. Jim never seemed to help me out when I tried to get her to sit back.
When Annie was almost 8, just before she started into grade 3, Jim suggested that he should take Annie for an eye examination, as he had noticed that she didn’t seem to be able to see things in the distance very well. When they returned from the doctor’s, Annie was wearing a darling pair of glasses. I was sorry to see her start wearing glasses so early in life, as I had been 4 years older than Annie was when I first got glasses. Soon Annie’s appearance in glasses became just another fact of life. I was surprised though when Jim took Annie back to the eye doctor 6 months later, and Annie required an increase in her prescription. I thought that this was a little soon, but even though she now had her second pair of glasses, her prescription was still only about what the prescription was in my very first pair, so I didn’t think much about it.
And then the diopters started to climb. She only needed another diopter just before she started grade 4, then another –0.50D at her next 6-month exam. By the age of 10, in grade 4, Annie was wearing glasses that were –5.00D. And still she was reading voraciously, with her glasses barely a foot away from her book. The increases continued unabated. By age 12 Annie was wearing glasses that had a –7D prescription, and by age 13 her glasses were as strong as mine were when I got my contact lenses. At this point I told Jim that Annie had to get contact lenses, because I had read that hard contact lenses would slow her prescription increases down. Jim agreed that it would be a good idea, but Annie was reluctant to wear contacts. And while she seemed to give the wearing of contacts a good effort, she continuously complained that the contacts hurt her eyes too much, so I gave up and allowed her to return to wearing glasses. During the next couple of years Jim would seem to notice Annie squinting nearsightedly at things in the distance at least every couple of months, and he would rush her off to the eye doctor, where Annie would have a little more power added to her prescription. It might not seem like much at the time, but –0.50D every 2 months makes a total of –6D over a 2 year period, so now at 15 years of age Annie was seeing the world through lenses that are –14.50D.
Now, after watching Jim ogle that lady with the very strong prescription I knew what I should have realized a number of years ago. Jim loves girls who wear glasses. He wanted his own child to wear very strong glasses so badly that I am now as sure as I can be that he did everything in his power to help increase Annie’s myopia. Oh, I doubt that he did anything like changing her prescriptions to give her stronger glasses than the doctor prescribed for her, but I would be willing to bet that by rushing her off to the doctor every couple of months for stronger lenses, Annie’s prescription increased a lot more than it would have if she had just gone for an eye exam every 6 months. And I bet if I were to ask him, he would tell me that he would actually prefer me to wear glasses all the time. Jim has been pretty distant with me for the last few weeks, and now I understand why. I told him a couple of weeks ago that I had an appointment to discuss that laser eye surgery so that I don’t have to ever wear glasses or contacts again.
I really don’t want to wear glasses, but lately my contact lenses have been bothering me a lot. So now my only options are either glasses full time or else surgery. And, the more I think about this, the more I think that it would be better for Jim to focus on me, rather than get his thrills looking at other ladies with strong glasses. And if Jim focuses more on me, and my glasses, maybe he won’t be as anxious to rush Annie off to the eye doctor for further prescription increases, and Annie’s eyes might have a chance to stabilize.
We were all finished our lunch. I stood up and cleared the table, and as we walked out into the mall I told Jim that I had reconsidered having the surgery. When I told him that maybe he might like to come with me to choose new frames to have for my new glasses, I could see the smile on his face. Monday I will make an appointment to get a new prescription. I have been wearing reading glasses over my contacts for a couple of years now, so I bet I will need bifocals. Maybe I can get the ones with the invisible lines so that no one will know I am as old as I really am.