The loudspeaker called my name.
“Ross Neir to the office.”
I got up and went.
A nice lady greeted me.
Her pink shirt didn’t fit.
She brought me to somewhere.
There was a strange box.
She said, “eyes go here.”
She said, “what’s the color?”
She said, “how many dots?”
She said, “read each row.”
She said, “all done now.”
She said, “come this way.”
She swung something towards me.
She said, “one or two?”
She said, “three or four?”
She said, “five or six?”
She said, “seven or eight?”
She said, “nine or ten?”
She said, “want a lolipop?”
I said, “only rootbeer flavored.”
I woke up one morning in the first grade and got ready for school. A few minutes before the bus, my mom put a pair of glasses on my head and told me to be a good boy that day.
I had an eye exam several weeks before. The results were benign, not worthy of panic, but worthy of buying me glasses.
I hated my glasses. I looked dumb and I knew it. I looked smart and I knew it.
They didn’t symbolize anything to me. I just thought they looked dumb.
I would see family pictures, look for myself, and cringe. Sometimes, on the playground at recess, they broke. Whoops. Too bad, I thought. Probably best to not tell my parents about this unfortunate incident.
Mom and Dad knew. They ordered new ones, and inevitably I broke those or, from time to time, lost them…
Look at those eyes.
In the fourth grade I learned about the scientific method.
Not from my teacher – she only held me back – but from a personal experiment.
I’d wear my glasses to school one day. The teacher didn’t really like me.
I’d not wear my glasses to school the next day. The teacher really liked me.
I never kept a tally, I didn’t use a control group, I could accidentally have been noticing the proxy effect of my self-confidence changing when wearing glasses, but in my simple mind I had discovered something.
Was subconscious bias really that simple? I didn’t know about subconscious bias; I just thought my teacher hated ugly kids, and I was ugly with my glasses on.
That day I became a manipulator.
In my mom’s car I sat
With not a clue yet
The doctor so boring and his nurse so ignoring
my unspoken wish to leave
I swung my feet in ovals
sending hidden signals
but my mom so inattentive and dad so still at work-ive
they didn’t let me go home.
“Your world will be orange!”
he dipped a stick in some dye
moved it closer to my eye
I squeamed and I blinked
It was all orange.
“GCP!” the doctor declared
“what does that mean” my mom implored
“Bumps under the eye lids” the doctor declared
“where will that lead” my mom implored
“slowly deteriorating eye health” the doctor declared
“will it end in blindness” my mom implored
“probably not” the doctor declared.
“probably not” the doctor declared.
His voice wavered on the second probably.
A month before 6th grade my mom let me have contacts. “Ryan and Rachel didn’t have contacts until they were in 6th grade,” my mom reminded me.
My brother moved out to college three days later. In that time he helped me put them in every morning.
SPACE ALIENS – I would yell – I HAVE SPACE ALIENS IN MY EYES AND THEY WANT TO RETURN TO THEIR MOTHERSHIP! THEY ARE DRAGGING ME WITH THEM!
No they aren’t – my brother replied – Now if you use your other hand to drag the lower eyelid down, you have more space to work with.
I loved how I looked. Three weeks passed; middle school began. I walked in confidently. I looked good and not even Mackenzie Byxbe would tell me otherwise.
There is no moral to the story. I don’t have some grand expression about the goodness of God. This wasn’t a lengthy commentary about the pervasiveness of evil in society. Nor about self-esteem or body image. I just really hated my glasses. Thanks Joe.