Karen sat at the dressing counter that her late husband John had built for her in their bathroom. She was hesitating. First she glanced over at her old glasses that were lying on the counter, the thick biconcave lenses reflecting the light in a way that made them look even stronger and uglier looking. In front of her she had placed a case containing the new glasses she had picked up from her optician a couple of hours before. The words that Lisa, the optician she had used for many years, had said to her as she fitted the new glasses to Karen’s face still echoed in her ears.
“You aren’t even thinking about taking your contact lenses out and driving home wearing your new glasses are you Karen?” Lisa had said.
“Well, I was considering it. Is it such a bad idea?” Karen had replied.
“Honey, with your prescription there is such a difference in the way you see wearing contact lenses that to even try to drive with your glasses without first giving your brain a bit of time to adjust would be very dangerous.” Lisa then told her.
Before Lisa had her eyes operated on her own prescription was only a little bit weaker than Karen’s, so Karen knew that she would do better listening to Lisa’s advice. It had been a strange sensation to have Lisa put Karen’s new glasses on her face with Karen still having her contact lenses in. Karen realized that the massive blur she saw through the lenses of her new glasses was basically what she saw without her lenses. But finally the glasses had been adjusted for the best fit, and Karen had left the office with her new glasses.
The moment of truth had arrived. Karen had washed her hands, and she took her new glasses from the case and laid them on the counter, where even her severely myopic eyes would be able to see the heavy black frame against the white of the marble counter top once her contact lenses were removed. Karen popped the right lens between her fingers, and placed it in the case. She filled that side case with the multi purpose no rub solution, thinking about what a blessing the no rub solution had been over the last couple of years. She hadn’t ripped any more contact lenses since she had started using this solution. Then she removed the left lens. Instead of reaching for her new glasses first, she placed the other lens in the container, and, holding the container and the solution bottle close to the end of her nose, she filled that side of the lens case with solution. Then she screwed the cap on, and placed the lens case on the counter top. She then glanced sideways, looking through the bathroom door into her bedroom, where she should have been able to see the closed bedroom door if her eyes had been normal instead of as nearsighted as they were. But, without correction, the bedroom door was invisible, hidden in the blur of the distant wall. She took her new glasses, and slid them slowly up the bridge of her nose, marveling at the way everything started to come into focus as the lenses drew closer to her eyes. Now she could see the bedroom doorway.
Karen again let her corrected vision glance at her old glasses. She had purchased them over 10 years ago, just before the birth of her son Jack. They had been indispensable for the first couple of years, and Karen had worn them pretty well all of the time. But, as Jack got older she no longer needed to grab her glasses from the nightstand in the middle of the night, and run to his bedroom, so gradually Karen had gone back to wearing contact lenses more and more. And with the old glasses, the difference in vision between them, and her contact lenses had been astronomical. Even though the prescription was now a little lower than Karen needed, she hated to put the old glasses on, because they made her feel seasick every time she moved her head. During the last couple of years Karen had usually removed her contact lenses, turned out the lights, and headed for her bed with the glasses in her hand, so that she could place them on the bedside table in case she needed them in the middle of the night.
Karen found that the new glasses were great. They hardly affected Karen at all, and she seemed to be able to see quite well when she was wearing them. This was a good thing, because Dr. Martin had advised Karen against the wearing of contact lenses for a number of months. Apparently Karen had broken some blood vessels in her eyes, and they were not healing properly, so the wearing of contact lenses was out until the doctor gave Karen his permission. Lisa, Dr. Martin’s optician recently had a new form of vision correction, where contact lenses with a person’s correct prescription were placed directly in the eye, between the iris and the cornea. Lisa seemed to be thrilled with her permanently corrected eyesight, and Karen was seriously considering the same operation. Karen had been to a number of lasik surgeons to see about vision correction, and the answer had always been a definite no.
It hadn’t taken Karen too long to get used to seeing her bespectacled reflections in different mirrors. The sight of glasses on her face again was unusual. Karen had first been diagnosed with myopia at the age of 5, and had worn glasses constantly for the next 10 years. During this time her lenses got stronger and stronger, and her glasses looked thicker and thicker. At first Karen hadn’t thought anything about it, but when she was 13, and had gotten yet another pair of new, thicker lensed glasses, her closest girlfriend Julie had tried her new glasses on, and had told Karen that she couldn’t believe that Karen’s eyes were so bad that she could actually see through the glasses. Karen had been badly hurt by this, and over the following 2 years she had pressured her parent’s to allow her to get contact lenses. Her mom, who already wore contact lenses allowed Karen to get contacts for her 15th birthday, and since that time Karen had worn contact lenses constantly except for a couple of years after the birth of each of her children, Katlin and Jack. So, at age 37, Karen had worn glasses for 14 years, and contact lenses for the other 18 years. She was almost looking forward to having an operation to fix her eyes so she could live the rest of her life free from either glasses or contact lenses.
Once Karen had gotten over the initial reactions over her glasses from her friends and co- worker’s she began to feel quite comfortable wearing them. But, the idea of having her vision corrected was burning in her mind. She had actually told most people that she had to wear glasses for a while before she had her eyes operated on so the doctors could get the correct prescription for the lens implants. And, this was sort of correct, but the length of time this would really have to have been would only have been a few weeks, not the few months that had passed. What surprised Karen however was that a number of people had commented that Karen looked very good wearing her new glasses. She wished John had still been alive to see her with her new glasses. John had been very supportive when she had worn her old glasses after the kid’s births, so he would have liked her wearing the new ones.
It became easier and easier for Karen to go on about her normal day-to-day routine. She would often stop and shop at the grocery store just down the street from her house, and on a number of occasions she noticed an older grey haired gentleman apparently giving her the eye. She noticed that she usually shopped between 5:30 and 6:00 pm on Monday’s and Thursdays, and so did this man. One Thursday evening Karen pushed her cart into the cashier’s line, and the man followed her.
Looking at her the man said, “I like your glasses. They look very nice on you.”
“Thanks. I don’t have much choice but to wear them, so I am happy to hear that strangers think they look good.” Karen replied.
“I can see that. They look fairly strong, but the power is well hidden with the heavy sidepieces. Do you know your approximate prescription?” the man asked.
“Haven’t a clue. I just pick out the frames, my optician puts whatever the best available lenses are in the frames for me, and I wear them. I do remember that my contact lenses were –17.50 for each eye though.” Karen replied.
“Wow, that would make those glasses around –22D or maybe even –22.50D. I would never have guessed that your prescription was that strong. Those glasses are even nicer than I originally though for such a strong correction,” replied the man.
Just then the cashier finished ringing up Karen’s order, and Karen paid for her groceries. As she went to pick up her bags the man spoke out again.
“I hate to end this conversation with you leaving before we introduce ourselves. Can you wait for a second?”
“I have some ice cream here. I have to get it home before it melts.” Karen replied.
“Well, I don’t see a wedding ring. If you are not married could you at least write your name and phone number on the back of my business card. And here is a second card for you to keep,” said the man.
Karen wrote her name and number on the back of the card, and handed it back to the man.
“I’m usually done with dinner by 7:30. Give me a call after that.” Karen said.
That evening after she, Katlin and Jack had eaten, and the dishes were done the phone rang. As she had expected it was Dan, the older gentleman from the grocery store. They conversed for a while about things in general, and finally Dan asked Karen if she would go to the movies with him on Friday evening. Karen thought that this was possible, since Jack often stayed overnight with his best friend on Fridays, but if he didn’t Katlin was 13, and was old enough to leave Jack with.
Karen had a really good time with Dan. He was very easy to talk to, and she hadn’t felt this comfortable with anyone since John had died. Actually Karen hadn’t dated anyone in the 4 years that had passed since John’s death in a boating mishap and it was nice to be with a gentleman like Dan.
Karen didn’t think that anything would come out of her relationship with Dan. Yes, they enjoyed each other’s company, and had fun times doing things together. But Dan was 62, and would retire from his job as a title lawyer within 2 or 3 years. Karen on the other hand was only 37, and had another 18 years to go before she could retire from her job as a teacher. She discussed this with Dan, who didn’t seem to feel that the age difference was a problem.
Karen was thinking more and more about having her vision corrected. But Katlin, who had inherited the myopia genes from her mother, needed new glasses again, so Karen had to spend the money for a new pair of glasses for Katlin. And, of course Katlin, who had a –10D prescription, wanted the newest, most expensive high index lenses that she could get. That took a big chunk of the money Karen had been putting away for her own vision correction.
That night Dan noticed that Karen was a little down.
“So what’s wrong? You look like you have lost your best friend.” Dan said.
“I had to spend a lot of the money I had saved for my lens implants on Katlin’s new glasses. If this keeps up I won’t ever be able to afford the operation.” Karen replied.
“You are thinking of lens implants? Why had you not said anything to me about this?” Dan asked.
“I thought I would have it done as a surprise.” Karen replied.
“I don’t know how to tell you this in a nicer way, but I was first attracted to you because your glasses made you look so interesting. When you are wearing your glasses you stand out in a crowd.” Dan responded.
“Are you saying that you want me to keep wearing glasses?” Karen asked.
“That is exactly what I am saying.” Dan replied.
“Would you go so far as to leave me if I didn’t wear glasses anymore?” Karen asked.
“Well, that hasn’t happened, and I certainly hope that knowing how much you attract me when wearing your glasses will prevent it from happening.” Dan replied.
“Spoken like a true lawyer.” Karen replied sarcastically. “Don’t you care about me and my feelings?”
“Yes, I care about you a lot. But I like you wearing glasses, and I can’t see that an operation will help you improve the quality of your life. If you were going blind, and needed to have something done to save your eyesight, I would be all for it.” Dan told her.
“But that is why I stopped wearing contact lenses. I have been planning to have this operation for over a year now.” Karen replied.
“I am almost 63 years old. I probably only have about 17 more years to go. Could you forgo this operation for that long just for me Karen?” Dan asked.
“If I agree to do that, what will I get for my part of the bargain? Will you leave me enough money to have the operation after you are gone?” Karen asked.
“If you marry me Karen, I will leave you all of my money, and you can spend it as you see fit after I die.” Dan responded.
“Is that a proposal of marriage?” Karen asked.
“Yes, it is, and the only condition is that you wear your glasses for me forever.” Dan said.
“I will accept that condition.” Karen told him.
So, Karen and Dan were married. Karen has delayed forever the lens implant operation, and she has grown accustomed to the idea of having to wear her glasses for Dan until at least after his death.