That Darned Dorothy Parker

by Specs4ever

“Hi Perry, this is Jim.” Jim said at the other end of the phone.

What’s up Jim? Another damaged one?’ I asked.

“Yes, this one would be a good client for your program. Do you have a new session starting anytime soon?” Jim asked.

“I just filled this next one this past week, but as you know my minimum is 10, and my maximum is 12 for first timers, so I do have room. How traumatized is she?” I asked.

“No worse than the usual. Of course she sees herself as the only one this could possibly have happened to, as they all do.” Jim replied.

“Well, if she has the money, and you want to send her right over to meet with me I will put her in the program immediately. But she should make up her mind fairly fast, because I have another 2 possible referrals for the program.” I said.

“Can you see her this afternoon for the private interview?” Jim asked.

“Man, I had something else I was planning to do. You always do this to me.” I replied.

“Come on Perry, this one is really wounded. She needs more help than I can give her, and she needs it fast.” Jim begged of me.

“How bad?” I asked.

“Around –23D. She has only worn her glasses to one other session before today. I am sure her contacts are killing her, because her eyes are always red and sore looking, but you know how they are.” Jim replied.

Yes, I did know how they were. I had been the last stop for many of these girls for a few years now. And, there were a couple I had not managed to save, much to my dismay.

“Can I save her?” I asked.

“She is worth it. You will see when you meet her. She is an absolutely gorgeous looking girl. And, I do think that with therapy you can help her. You know I wouldn’t send you another one like B’ashara.” Jim replied.

Oh, why did he have to mention her? That is the one failure that I still couldn’t get out of my mind. B’ashara was the most beautiful looking girl I had ever had the privilege to meet. She was very intelligent, and was a real sweetheart. But, unfortunately I had failed with her.

“What’s her name, and what time can she be here?” I asked.

“Her name is Alisha, and I can have her at your office within an hour. Actually I will drive her over myself, because she doesn’t drive.” Jim said.

“Well, if you think that much of Alisha I will do my very best to help her. It will be good to see you again as well Jim.” I replied.

“We will be right over. Thanks Perry.” Jim replied.

I spent the next little while going over the files of the other 10 girls in my program. Jim is a well-known psychiatrist, and when he calls me to see if he can refer a patient to my program I know that he has gotten in over his head. But, like most other noted men and women in our field, we all seem to have a knack for knowing when our one on one treatment will not work, and a group treatment can be beneficial. I am a psychologist, and I recognized the need for a support group a few years ago. I had a rough time setting my little group up at first, but now that I have a regular group going it is a lot of fun for my wife, my 2 assistants and me. My wife was the first lady I helped, and my assistants are always graduates of the program, so they know first hand what the girls are going through. And, with the completion of our last session we sent our first man back out into the world, so I fully expect to see a few more men in the future.

It took about 45 minutes for Jim and Alisha to arrive. I heard the elevator coming up, and I went out into the reception area to greet them. Mary, my receptionist had left at 4:30, just about the time that Jim called, so I was by myself. Jim opened the door for Alisha, and she walked into the room with a grace and poise that exuded a level of self-confidence that I knew she didn’t have. She was dressed to kill, and her long honey blond hair swung loosely over her shoulders. Of course my gaze faltered a little when I looked at her glasses, because that is what interests me the most. She wore myodisc lenses in a small wire frame, and when coupled with the rest of her appearance they looked like fine jewelry gracing her beautiful face. The way she looked captivated me, and I was going to save this one. No, I had to save this one. She was even better looking than B’ashara.

The initial interview went well. I could have written her story for her by combining the pieces of information that were in the other 10 girls files on my desk. I had heard the stories so many times already that nothing could surprise me.

“I needed my first pair of glasses when I was 3 years old,” Alisha said in a quiet voice. I remember putting them on at the optical store, and all of a sudden everything had shapes. Before I put those glasses on, all I had been able to see was colors and blurs. I didn’t even want to take them off that first night, when it was time to go to sleep.”

“So, your first prescription was likely pretty strong,” I answered, more as a statement than a question.

“Oh, yes, that is what the doctor told me. Then when I was 5, and I went to school, I had to get stronger glasses. After that every couple of years I needed a stronger prescription. When I was 13, I had to get a stronger prescription 3 times that year. Finally my doctor talked mom and dad into getting me contact lenses. They were supposed to slow down my progression of myopia,” Alisha went on.

“And did they?” I asked.

“It is hard to tell. By that time I was nearly blind without correction, and even though my prescription has gotten a lot stronger, I doubt that I can see much less than I could when I was 14 or 15, Alisha replied.

“So did you ever wear your glasses at all?” I asked, knowing full well what the answer would be.

“I haven’t worn glasses since I got my first contact lenses. With contacts I was free of my thick, strong glasses, and now I was just like all the other girls. I wore contacts all through high school and university,” Alisha replied.

“When you met your husband, did you ever show him your glasses before you were married?” I asked. Again I knew what she was going to say.

“Did you tell him, I had been married?” Alisha asked Jim.

“Jim didn’t have to tell me, Alisha. This is a common thread. Please go on with your story though,” I replied.

“I told him I was extremely nearsighted, and I had to wear coke-bottle, thick glasses, but I didn’t ever wear them in front of him, before we were married,” Alisha replied.

“And what about after you were married?” I asked.

“The first time I put my glasses on in front of him; he looked shocked, and screamed at me that I was ugly with my glasses on. He just went nuts,” Alisha told me.

“When did he start hitting you?” I asked.

“He never actually laid a hand on me, but he certainly was verbally abusive. He called me a blind bitch all the time. It got so, I was afraid to wear my glasses around him. Then when I got the eye infection and couldn’t wear my contacts for 2 weeks, he moved out. I was devastated. I thought, if he loved me, truly loved me, he would still love me wearing my glasses, knowing I was completely blind without them or my contacts. It really knocked me for a loop,” Alisha continued.

“Well, you certainly qualify for the program. Are you wearing your glasses all of the time now, Alisha?” I asked.

“I am trying to wear them more often. I understand that I have to wear them all the time for the program to work, and I am willing to do that. My contacts are really bothering me now when I wear them, and I am better off not wearing them,” Alisha replied.

“You understand that this program is fairly expensive. It is one price, no matter how many months it takes, so if you are cured in 6 months, it will have cost you quite a lot for each session,” I replied.

“Don’t worry about the money, Perry,” Jim said.

With that Jim and Alisha got up to leave. I told Alisha that I would see her the following Tuesday, and we all walked to the door.

“Thanks for agreeing to help my daughter, Perry,” Jim said.

“Alisha is your daughter?” My jaw dropped.

“I know. I should have stepped in a few years ago. I tried, but my suggestions that she should wear her glasses more frequently got nowhere,” Jim replied.

“I will do my very best Jim, and of course, for you, the program is free,” I answered.

Naturally, Jim would not be able to counsel his own daughter. I am sure he had tried to the best of his ability, but when mental issues come down to a personal family level, nothing beats detachment. And, I was now the leading expert on myophobia and hyperphobia. Or, as I liked to call it, specsaphobia; the fear of wearing eyeglasses in public. And the names I mentioned were names I made up myself. The problem was a lot more widespread than most people realized, and I am not certain if it can all be blamed on the wearing of contact lenses or not.

In the late 1800’s, an ophthalmologist in Germany had a manufacturer of artificial glass eyes blow a glass shell. This first glass shell had no optical powers, and was intended for use by a patient who was blind in one eye, but still had vision in the other, although their eyelids were so badly damaged that the eyelids couldn’t close, and protect the cornea. If the cornea dried out from lack of lubricity, the cornea would be destroyed and the patient would be blind. So, the glass shell was intended for use as protection for the cornea that would keep liquid trapped against it. It worked, and the patient wore this glass shell for over 20 years.

In WWII, a number of pilots, and high-ranking servicemen in both the German and the British forces wore contact lenses. By this time they had been perfected to a point where they were wearable, although not without a fair amount of discomfort to the patient. However, the motivation to wear them was high, and they managed to do it.

After the war, contact lens developed rapidly. New plastics allowed lenses to be manufactured in a much smaller size, with the correct optical powers. Now actors and actresses were able to see where they were going rather than stumble around blindly without their glasses, while an aid held their glasses for them so they could put on their contacts between takes. But the worst enemy of glasses was probably Dorothy Parker, who in 1937 uttered her famous quote: “Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.” This of course was a blatant untruth. There were plenty of girls in 1937 that wore glasses, and unless the girl was spectacularly unattractive, pretty well any girl who wore glasses was able to find a man that would marry them. But, until the early to mid 1960’s contact lenses were expensive, difficult to wear, and required a lot of motivation to wear them. And, many girls fell for Dorothy Parker’s line and endured the wearing of their contacts.

Now, in the early 21-st century, I was left with the job of repairing damaged girls who had believed Dorothy Parker and had forsaken the wearing of glasses for contacts. Also, occasionally, I helped a man get over the fact that wearing strong glasses wasn’t the end of the world.

When Tuesday evening rolled around, I was waiting for all my girls to show up. There were 14 girls returning from past six-month sessions and 11 new girls. I suspected that some of the girls returned more for the companionship than the actual need for more counseling. However, I was pleased to have them back. My charge for the first 6-month group therapy was expensive, but was free for those who decided to return for a second session.

Jim showed up with Alisha, and out of courtesy, I asked him if he would like to sit in on the session. I was gratified when he declined. Now they were all here, and I entered the room.

“Good evening ladies. I am Doctor Perry Stevens, and I am the leader of this therapy group. You have all met me in a personal pre-qualifying meeting. And some of you know me from having attended a previous session. While some of you know each other, there are a number of you that do not know anyone else. So, I am going to start this meeting with introductions. I want every person to come forward, and tell the group who you are, and then I would like to ask you to fill out and wear a nametag. Only your first name needs to be used,” I began with my usual spiel.

The girls got up one at a time, and introduced themselves. After their introduction, I watched carefully as they filled out the clip on nametags, making careful notes as to which ones of them had to bring their thick glasses extremely close to the nametag, as they wrote their name. I looked at them all, sizing each and every girl up for what I called “the attractive factor.” A couple of them just didn’t have it. One lady of African American heritage appeared to be so shy that I doubted that she could have even answered “yes” to any man who asked her out on a date. And another girl wore glasses that made her look quite ugly. Yes, the wrong pair of glasses, with a very strong prescription can make a girl look ugly, and that is part of what I am trying to do here. I wouldn’t have to tell her that she had done a really poor job of choosing frames and lenses. The other girls would do that in our after session coffee break. There was one young lady who was quite overweight. She had an attractive, albeit plump face, nice shoulder length reddish hair, her glasses were heavy black frames with wide temples, and the myodisc lenses had been carefully chosen. But, she had both her thick glasses and her weight problem, going against her. Maybe, if she had a fantastic personality, she could overcome the weight problem, and hopefully once she gained more confidence she would decide to attempt to loose some weight. Alisha got up and introduced herself. I noticed that she had gotten a new pair of glasses. They were a purple frame, with a cat’s-eye appearance, and thin temples with little quarter moon cutouts that appeared in white on them. She looked very pretty. I didn’t think it would take more than one six-month session to return her self-confidence to her. After the girls finished, I returned to the podium.

“Tonight’s session was more of a getting to know you meeting. For those that have returned, you now know that you are not alone. For those of you that are here for your first meeting, it might surprise you to see that there are so many other’s that are in exactly the same predicament as you are. I am going to ask you as a group, one question this evening. How many of you wore your glasses in front of your boyfriend before you got married?” I asked.

I was prepared to see a show of no hands, but I was surprised when a cute little girl of Spanish heritage slowly raised her hand. Quickly I scanned the list of names, and found hers.

“So Conchita, your husband was familiar with your appearance in glasses before you were married?” I queried.

“I knew my husband from the time, when we were small children. He knew I wore thick glasses from when I was very young, until I got contact lenses at age 14,” Conchita replied.

“But I am willing to bet that he never saw you wearing glasses again until after you were married did he?” I asked, more as a statement.

“No, I don’t think so. I really never wore glasses again until the time of our daughter’s birth. But he knew I had to wear contact lenses to be able to see anything,” Conchita replied.

I looked at Conchita carefully. Her face was about 120 mm wide. Looking through the strong lenses of her obviously very high index lenses, I could see that the power of the lenses had reduced the width of her face to around 90mm through her glasses. This indicated a prescription around –22D. She looked great to me wearing her glasses, but I had long ago resigned myself to the fact that I had a strong eyeglasses fetish, and any lady looked better to me wearing glasses, no matter how powerful the lenses were.

“And, do you mind telling the group what prescription your eyeglasses were when you first got contact lenses, Conchita?” I asked.

“My glasses were about –15D at that time. I needed stronger glasses when I got contacts though,” Conchita replied.

“So now your prescription has stopped increasing at around –22D, but your husband never saw you with glasses that were stronger than –15D before the birth of your daughter did he?” I asked.

“Well, no I suppose not. But I told him all the time that my eyes had gotten worse,” Conchita said.

I let things die at that. I knew from the paperwork she had filled out what had happened next. Her husband had refused to even speak to her when she was wearing her glasses, and after she was home from the hospital, nursing the baby, he had often grabbed her glasses off her face, telling her that she had better put her contact lenses in when she was around him. Finally he had hit her, and broken her glasses. She had gone to a shelter with the baby, and welfare had gotten Conchita new glasses. Now she was rebuilding her life, after her self-confidence had been completely shattered.

“Ladies, our time is up for this session. We are going to have some socializing over the next hour. Please do not hesitate to discuss things amongst yourselves. I will be available to answer any individual questions during this time. The social hour is very important, so please do not feel that the session has ended. You will be free to leave after the social hour,” I replied.

I was pleased to see that a number of the girls banded together in small groups. Alisha had spoken to a number of other girls, and I saw a sad smile on her face. I went over to speak to her.

“I never realized that there were so many others that had the same problem I had Doctor.” Alisha said.

“This is only the tip of the iceberg, Alisha. I see around 30 girls a year with this same problem,” I replied.

“Dad tried to tell me. I just wouldn’t listen.” Alisha replied.

“Neither would any of the other girls here tonight. You are not alone, if that makes you feel better.” I replied.

“Will I ever be able to have a decent relationship, with a man who loves me as I am?” Alisha asked.

“I hope so. You are a beautiful young lady. My wife will be here next week, and I think you might benefit from a conversation with her,” I replied.

Everyone started to leave. I saw Alisha greet Jim at the door, and they conversed for a few seconds. As they turned I saw Jim give me a high 5, so that meant that he liked what Alisha had told him.

For the following weeks session I was bringing my wife, Mary. When I was starting out as a clinical psychologist, Mary had come to me, her psyche wounded and her self-confidence shattered. She had been in love with a jock at the university she attended, and she thought he loved her as well. One night she had been unable to wear her contacts, and had asked him on the phone, if he minded if she wore her glasses. He told her he didn’t mind, and they went out that evening. The evening seemed normal enough, and Mary felt that they both had a good time. But he never called again, and any attempt she made to speak with him was rebuffed. She was devastated, when she heard from a mutual friend that her coke bottle glasses turned him off, and he didn’t want to see her again. So she came to me, to see if I could shed any light on what had happened, and what she should do next. I was very blunt about it.

“Wear your glasses enough so that you are comfortable wearing them. And do not hide the fact that you wear thick glasses from anyone. You are a fantastic looking woman, with or without glasses, and any man should be happy to be seen in public with you,” I told her.

“Are you married, Doctor?” Mary asked.

“No, at the present time I am not even otherwise attached,” I said, not knowing I was about to be blindsided.

“Would you go out with me, wearing my glasses?” Mary asked.

“Most definitely, although it would be unethical, since you are a patient,” I replied.

“Well, if you went out with me then, I could stop being a patient”, Mary answered.

I did, and we were married within six months. We have been married now for 15 years, and have 2 daughters and a son. Mary is only slightly more nearsighted than she was when we were first married, and contact lenses are not even part of her wardrobe.

Because of Mary, I realized the damage that contact lenses were doing to that special percentage of the population. The girls that were under –10D really didn’t have a problem. They could switch between glasses and contacts a lot easier than the very high myopes could. Also, since their glasses were not as thick, they didn’t feel quite as ugly when they were wearing them. Although, I did have a girl who was only –9D that had gone through the course, but she was an exception to the norm. She had been so adamant that she wouldn’t wear glasses that she actually went around with –9D uncorrected vision, until she got contact lenses, and she would not switch back to glasses for any reason. But eventually she had to, and her husband left her. I suspect that there were other issues, but this young lady blamed the fact that her husband left her on the fact that she had to wear glasses. She was my only other failure, as she then had some form of surgery on her eyes to correct her myopia, even after she completed the course. And, from what I had heard, she had developed an infection in the flap on one of her cornea’s that resulted in her going blind in that eye. Now she needs bifocals for the good eye and she has to wear a protective lens in front of her blind eye anyway, so she now has to wear glasses all the time.

Thinking about that one failure, left me in a melancholy mood. I began thinking about B’ashara, my only other failure. B’ashara had been born in the states to a Hindu family that had moved to the USA. It is for the most part unexplainable why some girls and boys become extremely nearsighted. Sometimes it can be partially explained by a family history of high myopia. But once in a while, completely out of the blue, a child is born that becomes a very high myope. B’ashara was one of those children. When she was of pre-school age her glasses were already very thick and strong, and as she went through the school system, her vision continued to deteriorate constantly, and she required more, and more, powerful corrections. Finally, by the age 18, B’ashara wore myodiscs that were so strong that her bowl size was about the size of a dime (10 mm). Her correction was somewhere in the high –30’s. Realizing that B’ashara was going to have trouble attracting a man, her parents sent pictures of B’ashara, without her glasses on, back to India, to see if they could arrange a marriage. They did, and B’ashara and her family sponsored B’ashara’s new husband into the USA. I suppose he realized immediately upon meeting her that B’ashara’s beauty was spoiled by the extremely powerful glasses she required, and unfortunately, even with correction B’ashara was only slightly better off than a legally blind person would have been. But her new husband, hid his feelings well, and he captivated B’ashara’s heart. After her husband was able to become a US citizen, he simply walked out on B’ashara. Her heart was broken, and she attempted to commit suicide. But she failed, and that is how she came to meet with Mary and me. We took more than a special interest in B’ashara. She was extremely beautiful, very intelligent, and a really nice person. We managed to have B’ashara fitted with new glasses that made her appear much more attractive. We spent hours with B’ashara in one to one therapy, and B’ashara was part of one of our first group sessions. Finally B’ashara lead us to believe that she was now able to accept her severe myopia and poor eyesight, and her appearance in glasses, so we considered her a success story. We had no idea that her first date after the sessions would be with a man who took her glasses off of her face, placed them where she couldn’t find them, and proceeded to rape her. This time her attempt at suicide was successful, and Mary and I were devastated. So was Jim, as he had been the first person to meet with B’ashara.

The week went by quickly, and our next session was quite a success. Mary did the whole program, and since she also wears strong glasses, her guidance meant a lot more to these young ladies than anything I could have said. I was again pleased to see the girls engaged in conversation after the session, and a number of them spoke with Mary separately.

The average person does not realize how hard it is to get over something that has been drummed into your head since you were young. Most of these girls were girls that had worn glasses from an early age, as the younger a person starts to wear glasses; the greater the potential is for their myopia to become quite high. I had been through this a number of times before, and I had found that information was one of the best ways to dispel any untruths. That is why I had a noted ophthalmologist speak at one of the sessions. My friend George was good, very good.

“How many of you blame yourself for the fact that your uncorrected eyesight is quite poor?” George asked.

A show of hands usually indicated that at least 4 or 5 felt that their myopia was their fault. This was probably because their parents had told them that they were ruining their eyes by reading so much, or holding their books too close. But George did his best to explain the truth.

“Some of you have become high myopes or high hyperopes because of heredity, and genetic factors. Some of you have become very myopic due to something in your childhood, like a viral illness, although doctors do often not recognize this factor. Still others have become very myopic, because of a hormonal imbalance. But not one of you have created your own myopia, no matter what the ‘quacks’ say. It is true that once a person starts to wear a minus lens, the eyes adapt to the minus lens, and they often require stronger and stronger lenses. But, for the most part, these people end up with a prescription no greater than around –10D to –12D. And each and every one of you is well above that level. I would say that each and every one of you was destined from birth to be a high myope. But, just for the fun of it, I’d like to ask you if there is any one of you who did not need glasses before you started school?” George asked.

Not one of the girls held up their hand.

“So, as you grew older, and you required thicker and stronger lenses for your glasses, I bet your parents and your eye doctor suggested that you try contact lenses to see if that might slow the progression of your myopia down. Or if your parents didn’t suggest it, I bet you yourself wanted contact lenses, or one of your friends suggested you get them. How many of you first got contacts because you wanted them?” George asked.

Seven hands went up. That meant that the other 18 had been pressured into their first contact lenses, by someone else.

“I see that there were about 18 of you that didn’t really care if you got contact lenses or not. But I bet that all 25 of you liked wearing contact lenses so much after you got them that glasses were never worn very often after that, am I right?” George asked.

All 25 girls chorused a resounding “Yes.”

“So, after you got contact lenses, it now was like you didn’t have to wear thick glasses anymore to see, and you were just like all the other girls. And, you were probably around 13 or 14 when you got contacts, so now you felt that the boys would notice you much more. And they did. But once you ended up either going with a guy in a long term relationship, or preparing to marry the guy, I bet that not one of you was willing to wear your glasses around your man, before you had asked him for some form of commitment.” This was a big mistake on your part. Perry can explain why better than I can. Thanks for listening to me, and I will be around after coffee to answer any questions you might have.” George finished.

I went to the podium, and as I had done so many times before, told the girls that I felt they had all probably told their man that they wore strong glasses well in advance of getting married, but never wore your glasses. By not wearing them around their guy, it had destroyed his chance to gracefully back out of the marriage. I explained that the statistics showed that 60% to 62% of men like women who wore glasses. However, what the statistics didn’t show was the percentage of men who actually were attracted to girls who wore very strong glasses. I did explain that there were a lot of men who did like women wearing strong glasses, but if the girls were not willing to appear in public wearing their strong glasses, how could they ever figure out, which men liked their glasses? They had just set themselves up for failure, as when they appeared in front of their man for the first time wearing their strong glasses, it was a little like telling them that you were afraid to show them beforehand what they were getting into. Now, I told them that you have angered the guy, and he is very likely going to react negatively, possibly not in a very good way.

This was the third session, and it was probably the most critical one. If the girls understood the premise that I had been trying to give them, then the rest of the program was going to be easy for them. They would leave the program, able to wear their glasses confidently, anytime they chose. And they would never again make the mistake of hiding their strong glasses from the world. By the end of the 6th month, after consultations with frame and lens specialists, these girls would all end up owning glasses that looked absolutely fantastic on them, even with the very strong lenses that they needed. And they would have the confidence to wear their glasses in public, at any time.

Along the way there might be some surprises in the romance department for some of these girls also. My program was not a secret to anyone, and after word got out about my girls, that wear strong glasses, I found that there were a number of eligible bachelors that had come to me asking for introductions. Some of the men liked girls with very strong plus glasses, and others were like me, attracted to girls with very strong minus glasses. So, any man who underwent a background check was invited to a party that Mary and I threw close to the end of the third month. I usually ended up with enough guys to go around, and sometimes had to take reservations for my next session, depending on how many of the girls who returned for the second session had found boyfriends.

It would have been a lot easier on everyone if Dorothy Parker had kept her mouth shut. But, I was trying to rectify the situation, and for the most part I had been doing a good job, and it was really gratifying to see that I had helped so many young ladies overcome a difficult thing in their lives.

Specs4ever, with a return to editing by Aliena.

August 2007