It has been suggested by many of my internet friends that I should try my hand at writing something other than stories involved with glasses. And to those who have asked, I tell them that I have tried to do this. But it always seems that within the first paragraph or 2, I introduce a character that wears glasses. So, at the end I have another glasses story.
What I have done here is far worse. I have taken a favorite tale of mine, a story by O’Henry called “The Gift OF The Magi”, and I have re written it as a glasses story for my readers.
When Carol and Rob got married 6 years ago they had not thought that they would be still living in the same low cost one bedroom apartment that they had first moved their belongings into. Their plans had been that after a year of them both working and saving for a down payment they would buy a house.
But that was before Carol’s mom had been diagnosed with cancer. The state took the house that Carol had grown up in as payment for the hospital costs, and the state did pick up the costs for the bare bones necessities for the nursing home. But there were drugs that the doctors wanted her mom to try, and the state medical plan did not cover their costs, so Carol and Rob paid for them. After all Carol just couldn’t let her mom die without trying everything possible, and Rob agreed.
Finally a year ago, all the experimental drugs were of no use, and Carol’s mom died. They had a simple funeral, but still Rob and Carol ended up another few thousand in debt. Just when it seemed that their finances were going to improve, Rob’s dad died. There was no money for his funeral, and Carol couldn’t complain when Rob wanted to borrow the money to bury his dad. He had been so good to her mom; all she could do was cosign the loan for the funeral expenses.
Carol was getting tired of all this. She had been back to her optometrist a month ago for her annual eye exam and her eyes, at the age of 27, had gotten quite a bit worse again. Her prescription had jumped –1.50D, the worst increase she had been faced with for a number of years. Sure, Carol had received steady prescription increases from the first time she put on her glasses at age 14. Her original –2.50D prescription had become –8.50D by age 18, and when she and Rob were married she was wearing –12D. But this was a big increase – even her doctor had been surprised at the jump. Now her new glasses were going to have to be –18D.
The last month had been terrible. Knowing how much worse her eyes were was one thing, but knowing that her vision was terrible, and not having the money to do anything about it was even worse. Just that morning she had beat a few people to the bus stop to see if she could get a seat on the bus, and when she got on the bus she discovered that in her blindness what she thought had said express was really the local bus. There was no harm done really, but the local bus stopped at every stop, and the express went right through to the subway. And she just couldn’t complain to Rob.
Heck, she hadn’t even talked to Rob all week. She felt him crawl into bed this morning just before she had to get up, but before she could even say anything to him he was asleep. And he wouldn’t be there when she got home from work either. Carol didn’t know how long Rob could take working the 2 jobs. During the day he installed built in vacuum systems in new homes, and in the evening he worked the night shift at a gas station and convenience store. With his 2 jobs, and his traveling time he ended up with a total of about 6 hours sleep. And Carol herself worked a long day. Carol was the bookkeeper, and the order specialist for a retail lumberyard and hardware store. All day long she was on the phone ordering material from suppliers, or on the computer placing orders. And when she wasn’t placing orders she was on the computer doing the book keeping. No wonder she was so terribly myopic. Her whole world was only a few feet in front of her at all times.
Everyone commented on Carol’s glasses. Even Rob loved seeing Carol wearing glasses, and when they actually had some time together, Rob always wanted Carol to leave her glasses on when they had sex. And Carol was very proud of her glasses. They had belonged to her great grandmother, and it must have been from her that Carol inherited her high myopia. Carol remembered finding the gold oval wire framed glasses when she and Rob cleaned out her mom’s house 5 years ago, and Carol remembered putting on the glasses. The lenses were funny, they were deeply dished on both front and back, and they were far stronger than the lenses Carol needed at the time. But the frames looked great on her, so Rob persuaded Carol to have her new lenses placed in the frames, and she had changed the lenses every year when she received her new, stronger prescription. Last year however her optician had told her that the gold frames were getting a little thin, and if she wanted to continue wearing them they should be reworked by a goldsmith.
Carol stopped by the goldsmith to have her glasses looked at, and the goldsmith quoted Carol a price of $250.00 to rework her frames. When Carol shied away from the price, the goldsmith told her that if she ever wanted to sell the frames, since the gold content was so high, he would be willing to give her $100.00 for the frames.
Christmas was less than a week away, and Carol had saved only about $10.00 for a present for Rob. Sure, she and Rob had decided that this year they would not spend any money on Christmas presents, but Carol was a woman, and she just couldn’t resist the urge to buy Rob something. She knew that Rob wouldn’t even consider buying her anything, but that was Ok, that was just a guy thing. Carol knew that her ten bucks wouldn’t get her much, but she was hitting all the thrift stores anyway. One day Carol found a new thrift store. Unlike the dingy dark ones she had been shopping in previously, this one was well lit, and clean. Carol walked around looking at everything, and she passed by a rack with sunglasses, and reading glasses. Just for the fun of it Carol spun the rack around and looked at the glasses on the other 5 sides. As she was looking, an employee came out from the back of the store, and started putting new arrivals on the rack. There was a pair there that interested Carol. The frames were plastic, and they looked to be a little old fashioned, but the lenses in the glasses looked to have little circles in them. Carol took off her own fragile glasses, and tried the plastic framed ones on. As she slid the glasses up her nose, Carol almost gasped with amazement. Everything off in the distance was clear now. These glasses seemed to have exactly the prescription that Carol needed in the lenses. Sure, the little circles looked weird, but Carol was thrilled that she could see so much better again. She looked at the posted prices. Yellow tags were $5.00. These glasses had the yellow tag for new arrivals on them. Red tags were only half that price, but Carol couldn’t take a chance on leaving these glasses for the week that would allow them to earn the red tag designation.
Carol paid for the glasses, and she left the thrift store wearing them. It was wonderful to be able to see properly again. She could hardly wait to tell Rob. And Rob would understand when he didn’t get a present.
As Carol walked to the bus stop to catch her ride home she thought of Rob, and how blistered his hands had been when they were together on the weekend. Robs job involved putting in a lot of screws, and he had always used a battery-powered drill with a screwdriver tip. But just last week it had given up the ghost, so Rob was forced to put all those screws in by hand. Carol wondered how she could possibly get the money to buy a new 18volt drill set for Rob. And then it came to her in a flash. The lumberyard had the exact drill set that Rob wanted. It came with a flashlight and a reciprocating saw, all for $129.95. Carol did the calculations rapidly in her head. With her 25% employee discount, and with the 8% state sales tax this would come to $105.25. If she sold her old glasses frames to the man at the goldsmith shop for $100.00, she would have exactly enough.
The following day Carol left work early enough to go to the goldsmith’s shop. The goldsmith was true to his word, and he paid Carol the $100.00 for her old glasses frames. Carol felt a pang of regret when she left her great grandmother’s glasses frames there, and went home with a hundred dollar bill, but she knew that she was doing this for Rob. After all the frames were pretty well worn out. And, after wearing the glasses she had so fortunately found at the thrift store for the past day, Carol knew that she could not possibly have worn her old glasses ever again. Although her vision was far better with the thrift store glasses, Carol knew that when the last payment for Rob’s father’s funeral was made in January, new glasses, with the correct lenses for her eyes were going to be the first thing she purchased. She really did not like looking through the little circles.
Now there was only 2 more days to go before Christmas. Carol didn’t try to hide her myodisc-lensed glasses from Rob, but she also made no effort to wake him up and show him the glasses she had so fortunately found.
Christmas eve, Carol again went to bed before Rob came home. The gas station and convenience store where Rob worked closed at midnight Christmas Eve, and Rob was lying next to her still sleeping when the light of day started to shine through the bedroom curtains. Carol grabbed her glasses, and her warm robe, and went into the kitchen to make a pot of coffee.
The coffee had finished dripping, and Carol was standing at the counter preparing to pour herself a cup when she heard Rob sneak up behind her. He put his arms around her, and spun her around, hugging and kissing her. He looked at her, and his jaw dropped in amazement.
“Honey, where did you get those glasses?” Rob asked.
“Oh I was so fortunate, I found them in a thrift store on Monday, and they are pretty close to my prescription. And the best part was that they only cost me five bucks.” Carol replied.
Together they went over to the couch, and there were 2 presents under the tiny artificial Christmas tree. One box, brightly wrapped had Rob’s name on it. The other box was very tiny, and Carol, love Rob was written on a card attached to it. Carol had noticed this box when she had placed Rob’s present under the tree before he woke, and she was dying with curiosity to see what Rob had bought her.
Rob opened his beautifully wrapped box. Carol watched for his eyes to light up with amazement when he saw what the gift was, but she couldn’t read his thoughts. It wasn’t a scowl, but was more like a look of disappointment.
Carol opened her tiny box, and unwrapped the tissue paper. There were 2 tiny plastic glasses lenses. In a flash it came to her. Rob had purchased new lenses for her old frames, and he was going to surprise her. But the frames were by now melted down, and likely had been made into jewelry already, Somewhere, right now some lucky lady was unwrapping a new ring, or a pair of gold earrings that had been made from her gold frames.
Fighting back the tears Carol hugged Rob, and said, “Oh Rob, you are so thoughtful. I love you so much. Thank you. But why are you not more excited about your gift?”
“I don’t know how to tell you this, but my boss gave me this exact same set yesterday for Christmas. Can you possibly take this one back to the store?” Rob said.
“Oh, that is not a problem. I still have the receipt, and I can take it back tomorrow. But what else can I get for you that you would want to have?” Carol asked.
“There is nothing that I want more than to see you with your new lenses in your glasses. I’ll get the screwdriver, and you bring me your frames so I can change the lenses.” Rob replied.
Carol was stunned. She was speechless for a minute, trying to think up some sort of an answer. Finally she determined that she would have to tell the truth. “ I sold my old gold frames to get the money to buy you your drill set Rob. Can you ever forgive me?”
“Well, I suppose I have no other option. But tomorrow we are going to get your money back for the drill set, and then we are going to see if we can get you a new frame for your new lenses. I am glad that the myodiscs work well enough for you to be able to see properly, but you are far too beautiful a girl to go around wearing those glasses.” Rob replied.
So, early the next morning they went to the lumberyard. Carol got her money back, and together they visited what seemed to be every optical store in town. Finally, just when they were about to give up hope of ever finding a frame that Carol’s new lenses would fit properly in they found a black plastic oval shaped frame that was just perfect. When Carol put her new frames on, with the proper lenses installed, Rob looked at her with love in his eyes. The black frames accented Carol’s long blond hair, and they fit her face like they had been designed for her.
“Carol, you are the most beautiful woman in the world now that you have such lovely new glasses.” Rob said.
They went back to the apartment, and spent the afternoon in bed making love.