For the last couple of months I had been keeping a secret. I could no longer see the blackboard well enough to tell exactly what the teacher had written on it. So, I had been copying whatever Evan, the boy who sat next to me had written in his notebook. I knew that this meant that I would probably have to get glasses, but as a 12 year old girl I just wasn’t ready to get glasses.
Even had made a guess a couple of weeks ago that I was having a bit of trouble seeing the board. We had been friends since kindergarten, and when he told me that he thought I needed glasses I told him that there was no way. I could see just fine. But then he pointed out some things and asked me what they said, and finally I had to admit that he was right, and I couldn’t see things far away very well. I made him promise not to tell anyone, and to my surprise he agreed that he wouldn’t.
I was also surprised that after the day I admitted that I couldn’t see very well anymore Evan started to move his book over to the edge of the desk so I could see what he had written down a little easier. That was very nice of him to do that, but I already knew that Evan was one of the nicer boys in our grade.
I think that if I had been able to see a little better I might have noticed something else that was going on. Sheila Jeffries sat on my other side, and I did not like Sheila. Her parents had money and she was they type of girl that gave me the feeling that she looked down on me. She always wore really nice stylish clothing, and she had lots of friends, but she and her friends were not the type of girls who would ever be my friends.
It was really sort of funny that I wasn’t willing to get glasses. I didn’t mind the appearance of glasses on a persons face. There were some of the girls in the grades ahead of me that wore glasses, and some of them looked very attractive wearing their glasses. But I didn’t want to be the first person in my grade 6 class that had to wear glasses.
The first indication I had that maybe I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t see the board properly came the day that Evan was home sick. Without Evan there I couldn’t see well enough to write down what the teacher was putting on the board. I started to panic a little, but then I figured that I would just get one of the other girls I was sort of friendly with to let me copy her notes. I sat at my desk with my notebook sort of hidden so that people couldn’t see that I wasn’t writing anything in it. There came a gentle tug at the sleeve of my sweater. It was Sheila.
“Can I see your notes?” Sheila whispered.
“Evan’s not here so I haven’t got any.” I replied.
Was it possible that while I was copying from Evan Sheila had been copying from me? That was certainly what it looked like. Admittedly I didn’t care for Sheila, but I didn’t really want to make an enemy out of her. So when the class dismissed for lunch I had to admit to Sheila that I couldn’t see the board anymore. She had a sad smile on her face when she admitted that she couldn’t see it either.
Just because we shared a common secret didn’t mean that we were destined to become best friends. Sheila didn’t want to be the first person in our class to have to wear glasses, and neither did I. So for the next couple of months I copied my stuff from Evan through the kindness of him placing his notebook closer to the side of his desk than he would have normally done, and I did the same thing for Sheila.
I suppose it was inevitable that we got caught. One day, just before Easter our teacher told us that we were having a surprise test. She wrote 10 questions on the chalkboard and we were supposed to write the answer to them on a blank sheet of lined paper and hand it in. She was watching very carefully to make sure that there was no cheating. So I couldn’t get the questions from Evan, nor could Sheila get them from me. At the end of the class Sheila and I both were forced to turn in blank pages, with only our names on them.
Since Sheila and I were both good students this caused the teacher a bit of concern. We were called in front of her, and we were finally forced to admit that neither of us could see the board anymore. Notes got sent home to our parents, and my parents made an appointment to have my eyes tested. I knew that Sheila’s parents would be doing the same thing, and my only hope was that we would both have to start wearing our glasses the same day.
Fortunately for me my eye doctor told my parents that my prescription of -2.00D was right at the point where I still didn’t have to wear my glasses full time unless I chose to. So that allowed me to make my way to school the following day without wearing my glasses. Sheila didn’t seem to have her glasses yet, so there was no way I was going to be the first one to put mine on in class. I continued copying from Even, and Sheila continued copying from me.
Three more days went by. I still hadn’t pulled my glasses out of their case, and I was wondering why my glasses had come in so much faster than Sheila’s had. Then it came to me. Sheila was being as stubborn as I was. She had to have had her glasses by now.
That day at lunch I told Sheila that we needed to talk, and she followed me over to an unoccupied table in the cafeteria.
“I got my glasses a couple of days ago. Have you got yours yet?” I asked.
“I got mine around that time too.” Sheila admitted.
“I don’t want to be the first one to show up in class wearing glasses, and I know that you don’t either. Why don’t we go get our glasses, and go back to class together after lunch with us both wearing them?” I suggested.
Sheila agreed that it was stupid to keep on going this way when we both had glasses that would allow us to see the writing on the board. So we went to our backpacks and got our glasses. We both put them on and together we walked into the classroom. There was a bit of a fuss for a few minutes, but eventually it calmed down.
“Your glasses look really nice on you Stacey. I guess I can stop trying to write so neatly.” Evan said.
“Thanks Evan. I really appreciate you letting me copy your notes.” I replied.
“Looks like Sheila was copying them as well. You should have told me.” Evan said.
“She didn’t want to be the first one wearing glasses any more than I did. I had to keep her secret, the same as you kept mine. I really appreciate it Evan.” I said.
“No problem. But you look better wearing glasses than Sheila does. Your glasses suit your face better.” Evan said.
I felt much better after Evan said that. And as I looked at Sheila wearing her new glasses I realized that maybe Evan was right. Sheila really didn’t look as good wearing glasses as she looked without them.
But now the ice was broken. It didn’t seem long before another one of our classmates ended up getting glasses, and a few weeks before the school year ended another girl got glasses, so by the end of that year including me there were 4 girls who wore glasses. I wasn’t wearing mine all the time, and neither was Sheila. But Peggy, one of the other 2 girls, wore hers to school every day and left them on all day. I didn’t know her prescription, but from looking at her glasses they didn’t seem any stronger than mine did. Sheila and I had talked a little bit about our glasses, and Sheila told me that hers were -1.50 x -1.00 x 90 for her right eye and -1.50 c -1.00 x 85 for her left eye. I told her that mine were -2.00D for both eyes, and that is how I discovered that the other numbers that Sheila had were for something called astigmatism.
The school year was over and we had the summer to do what we wanted. I discovered that I was wearing my glasses a lot more often than I would have thought over the summer, because I really was finding that I didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t see things in the distance very well. And then when school went back for the fall I realized why I had found it easier to wear my glasses. Now, even with my glasses on I could not see the blackboard very well.
I thought about it for a couple of days before I told my mother. I didn’t want to have to get stronger glasses, but it looked as if I had no choice. And I was already wearing my old glasses pretty much all the time. So finally I told mom, and she made me another eye appointment. After the eye exam I found out that I needed lenses that were -3.00D now, and when I got the new lenses put into my old frames I could again see what I had been missing. But now when I tried to go without glasses it seemed almost impossible for me to do so. It was like my eyes had gotten 10 times worse.
I went through the next few years having small increases, so that by the time I was 18 and out of school I was wearing glasses with a -6.00D prescription. Sheila had gotten contact lenses when we were in grade 8, and I didn’t have any idea what her prescription had become. But Peggy, the one girl who started off wearing her glasses full time had apparently needed much stronger lenses every year, and now she was wearing glasses that were a lot thicker than mine. She looked really good wearing them, and I sort of wished I could have gotten glasses like hers, but I didn’t really mind mine, so I was happy.
I had had a bit of a love hate relationship with Evan over the years. Girls discover boys earlier than boys realize what girls are there for, and Evan didn’t clue in to the fact that girls were Ok until a couple of years after I decided I liked him. But now everything was straightened out, and we dated almost every weekend.
I couldn’t really see much benefit to my going on in school. I wasn’t a top scholar, so I didn’t get the marks I needed to get a scholarship to any of the universities. Evan had gone on to take a course in auto mechanics, and since he was very good with computers this was the side of mechanics he wanted to specialize in. I didn’t know if our dating would end up going any further, but he often told me he fell in love with me when I got my first glasses.