I sat at my computer trying my best to compose the ad I wanted to place in the lonely hearts column. It just didn't fit together the way I wanted it to: " Male, mid 50's, recently widowed, tall, slim, non smoker, extremely nearsighted, wanting to meet compatible lady with similar vision problems." No, it just didn't sound right. There had to be a better way.
In the few short months since the untimely death of my wife, I had tried all the routes that I could think of. First I had found an eye doctor that had given me the lens implants that I had wanted for the past few years. Oh, it hadn't been easy finding a doctor that would implant lenses into healthy eyes making me significantly nearsighted - if you call -18, and -17.50 significantly nearsighted.
But, finally I found a doctor who, once he realized that I was serious, and that I was already wearing plus contacts to give me that vision, agreed to do what I wanted, although it was for a much larger sum of money than he would have charged anyone else for cataract surgery. But, I had decided that that is what I wanted, so I did it.
Then, I started visiting opticians. Not to order new glasses, but rather to try to find someone else that was extremely nearsighted that had just purchased a new pair of thin lensed glasses that might be willing to let me see what a pair of these lenses looked like in a high prescription like mine.
I did find a few people, but 2 of them were men, and of the 4 ladies, 3 were married, and it took all I could do to get away from the single one. So it was back to the drawing board.
Finally I came up with an idea. There was an optical lens supply house not too far away. I went to see the owner, and explained to him that I was retired, but bored, and asked him if he needed some help with cleaning the lab. Well, at first he was hesitant, but when I explained that I would work one night a week for free for the first month, his parsimony took over, and I had the job.
I knew it was going to be hard, but I soon got into a routine, and my free labor was only taking up about 5 hours a week. On the first night I took a lot longer, as I was trying to figure out their system. What I was interested in was the specials - a row of trays that contained the special order glasses.
Some of these were high plus lenses, but as you know, my interest is in high minus. There were a few between -12 and -16, so I checked them all out. One pair was obviously for a lady, and all the information was on the doctors slip - her name, address, phone number.
This was too easy. I copied it all down, making special note of the prescription: R-15.75 x -2.50 x 180, L-15.50x -2.75 x 168. A good myopic prescription with a reasonable amount of astigmatism. And the name - Ms. Rena Prokovitch, while indicating a person of ethnic background, led me to believe from the Ms. that she might just be single. So armed with this information, I finished my evenings work and went home.
The next day I contacted Ms. Rena. She was a pleasant lady, and I was quite taken with her. The glasses that she was wearing were older oversized plastic frames. The lenses were biconcave, and the front curvature was fairly deep - about a -5 I guessed. The lenses were set well forward in the frame, and the rear edges of the lenses were beveled in so that the drop temples would close. I loved the glasses, and found the wearer to be interesting as well. Thinking that this was just too simple I went back home - with a date for that evening of course.
I dated Ms. Rena for a few weeks, and while I really enjoyed her company, found her vision to be quite poor. During the first date I noticed that she had an annoying habit of pushing her glasses into the bridge of her nose, and squinting her eyes in the classic myopic peer. Then she would ask me if I could read, or see whatever it was she was trying to see.
I originally put this down to her needing her new glasses, and so I suggested that she should maybe get new glasses, knowing full well that hers would be ready in a day or so. She told me that she had a new pair on order, but it surprised me when she told me that her prescription hadn't changed. And when she finally got her new glasses, and the peering and squinting went on, I was unable to reconcile my fetish with the fact that she really couldn't see well.
I still remain friends with Rena, and call her from time to time, and am more than willing to go out of my way to help her, but I no longer felt romantically attracted - as if I was taking unfair advantage of her weakness.
I had not stopped checking out the specials, and when I got to work for my first paid night, there they were - a pair of nice looking modern oval wire frames. The temples were hinged well back from the front to support a thick pair of lenses, and when I looked at the prescription, I knew why. Both eyes were -22.50 with no astigmatism. It is very unusual to have both eyes the same in such a high script.
I looked over all the paperwork, but this optician assigned their patients a number, rather than putting a name or any other information on the order. This was going to be a hard one, but anything that a person has to work for is usually better. I was at a loss.
My first inclination was to stop in at the optician's, but I then discarded the idea, as the lenses that had been ordered were ordinary plastic, and my story of wanting to check out someone with thinner lenses just wouldn't work. And, I knew that the lady that had ordered these glasses had not ordered them to wear in public; no optician would have let her. These had to be backup or around-the-house glasses. This meant that I couldn't hang around the optical store after they had been delivered, as I would have no way to recognize her.
But, a little problem has never stopped me in my quest. I had a key to the lab, and started to stop by every night - just to empty the garbage, I told the boss. Actually I was waiting for the lenses to come in - and one night they were there.
To me they were beautiful. The finished lens blank was 2.75 inches across. Optical terms are in metric, and that is 70mm. The edge thickness was 3/4" (20mm) and the center bowl was almost 2" (50mm). The front of the lens was deeply curved in - about 7 diopters I thought, and the rear bowl had the rest of the prescription. I could hardly wait until the lenses were fitted to the frames.
I had also gotten into the habit of stopping by around morning coffee time one or 2 days a week, and when I left I would always announce that I was going across town, or downtown, or just somewhere in the area, and were there any glasses that needed delivering. So the next morning I dropped by, and after coffee I announced that I was going to the mall where the optician was located.
The lab manager asked me if I minded waiting a few minutes while he finished off a special order that had to go right to that mall. Of course I would wait - no need to hurry. And when I left for my trip to the mall, it was with a fantastic pair of glasses. Now to see if my skills as a con man were up to it.
The optician on duty was a pleasant looking 30ish lady. I explained that I had a special order from our lab, and that the manager would like me to wait while she checked the glasses out to make sure they were all right.
She got out the tray while I opened the package, and when the tray was on the counter I tried to get the name. Darned doctors all scribble things! I finally was able to get the last name, but the first name was only an initial - K. Myers. This guy hadn't put anything down. There was no address, no phone number; in short, I was stumped.
I tried to read the store order copy but the optician had put the doctors prescription on top, and I just couldn't do anything more without seeming too obvious. So, I memorized the doctors name. What else could I do?
But now I was getting more and more curious. So, my next step was a call to the doctor. I explained that I was from so-and-so optical, and that a patient of his, a Ms. Myers had brought in a prescription to obtain a quote on a new pair of high index lensed glasses. I had the quote, but had unfortunately lost her phone number. And the nice receptionist obligingly gave me the phone number, and Katherine's first name. So, finally I had it. Now on to the quest.
I needed a cover story, and I kept coming up blank. Finally I dusted off an old one - the best I could do was to tell Ms. Myers that I collected glasses for a well known organization that does this (and I do help out from time to time, so if she phoned, they would know me).
I waited a few days to make sure she had picked up the glasses, and I rang her door bell anxiously. She came to the door, and I was lost. She was lovely - right out of the center of Playboy. I guessed her age to be in the early 30's.
It was hard to get the words out, but I did manage to ask her if she had any old glasses to donate. Unfortunately she didn't, but she did tell me that she had just gotten a new pair to wear around the house so that she could give her eyes a rest from contacts.
She seemed interested in my glasses, and she asked me if they were a strong prescription. I told her that they were -18, and she seemed amazed that they were so thin, and nice looking. We chatted for a while, and soon she had invited me in for coffee.
I could tell that she wanted to try my glasses on, so I suggested that she take out her contacts, and put her own glasses on, so that she could then try mine. Of course I added that hers would probably not be nearly as strong, to which she replied that I would be surprised.
When she came out of her bathroom wearing her new glasses I was hooked. She looked sensational, and I told her so. She actually blushed. I traded glasses with her, and expressed my amazement that hers were stronger than mine. Soon her story came out.
She had gotten glasses before she even started school, and through her school years, her glasses got thicker and thicker. Finally when she was 17, she had been having problems seeing distance again. At a high school football game, she was sitting up in the stands watching her younger brother play; her glasses tilted to bring the lenses closer to her eyeball.
A latecomer had bumped her as he tried to get into a seat, and crash went the glasses to the concrete benches. The glass lenses had not totally shattered, and with the aid of some tape she was able to tape the lenses in well enough so that she could drive her brother home after the game, as her dad needed the car for work the next morning, and he would not have been happy walking to the school to get it.
She told me of going without glasses for the next couple of days, until a friend of hers suggested contacting the Lions Club to see if there were any glasses that they had collected that might possibly work for her. They contacted the right people, and soon were going through hundreds of pairs of old glasses.
One pair seemed to work. They were an ugly brown frame with totally round lenses. The lenses themselves were plastic, and seemed to be at least an inch thick. But, with them she could at least see to function.
Wearing these glasses made her so self-conscious that she promised herself that she was going to get contact lenses, and so, after a visit to her eye doctor, she began wearing contacts. Kath was very popular with males even when she was wearing glasses, but after she got contacts she told me that more and more guys wanted to date her.
At this point I interrupted her to ask if she had ever married. Her reply was that I was the first male that had seen her in glasses since she had gotten contacts.
She had often told her boyfriends that she wore contacts because her eyes were so bad that her glasses were really thick, but she had never had the confidence in herself to be able to sleep with a guy, and have her glasses there beside the bed, as without her glasses or contacts she couldn't even go to the bathroom.
I told her I understood completely, and that the glasses I was now wearing were the first glasses I had ever had that I could wear without feeling that people were staring at the poor blind guy. We laughed and joked about our poor eyesight, and before I knew it the evening had passed.
As I was leaving I asked her if she would be willing to accompany me to dinner and a movie the following evening, and I was a bit shocked when she accepted.
The following couple of months were the best times of my life. Kath was a fabulous person, even though she was so much younger than I am. I did make her buy another pair of glasses.
This time I had her get a small oval frame, and the lenses were high index plastic. Instead of the biconcave full lens, I got her to specify a myodisc lens with the carrier being plano on both sides, and the lens area itself was about 30mm. These glasses looked stunning on her. However, she still felt a bit self-conscious going out in public wearing them.
But, I gradually got her to overcome her embarrassment by explaining that she couldn't help her vision problem. It was genetic, and probably one of her parents had someone in their family that was a high myope, and that it had been inherited by her.
Soon she was going out with me wearing her glasses, but the real test came the day she wore them to work. A few of her friends had seen her wearing glasses when she was out with me, and the reaction was favorable. She had never hidden her poor eyesight - she just wouldn't let anyone see her in glasses, and the reaction was that her glasses didn't look nearly as awful as she had told everyone that they would look.
Like everything, life must go on. Kath was so special, and so perfect for me that when the inevitable came, I was saddened. I phoned to ask her out the following evening, and when she told me she had a date already, my heart was crushed.
I had shown her that she was beautiful, even if she was slightly imperfect, and now she was ready to live her life with someone closer to her own age. I could only look back on our time together, thankful that I could share this time with her.
With special thanks to Gayle for the broken glasses and Lions Club storyline.