The world through a pair of glasses - Bob Paslay

I have now worn glasses about 40 years of my life and I must say I hate them as much today as I did the first time I put them on in high school.

It never occurred to me that when the teacher was writing on the blackboard that the students in the back of the room like myself could actually see the board. I would drive down the road at night and the reds and blues and greens of neon signs would form a warm, fuzzy blend of colors. It never occurred to me that drivers could actually read all the business names through this rainbow glow.

I can't exactly remember how I was forced to get glasses. It might have been the highway department that nabbed me. But in any event they checked my eyes and made my glasses up and boom, the world came better into focus. The words on the blackboard were actually words. The color blend as I drove at night was actually a series of neon signs with words on them.

But having discovered this new world, it still didn't stop my teen vanity from ruling. I would put on my glasses when I had to and take them off as much as possible. Not that I was a beautiful baby or teen. But glasses had gotten such a bad rap as I was growing up with taunts like "Hey, four eyes" that I didn't want to wear them.

Then finally I broke down and started wearing them all the time and have ever since. But I still hate them. I read or watch television in bed and doze off and then put my glasses somewhere or leave them on the corner of the bed. When I wake up there is that panic almost as great as "where's the channel changer." I can't function until I find them and put them on. Sometimes I roll over on them in bed and then breathe a sign of relief that I didn't break them.

I went camping last summer. I took my flash light and went exploring. As I was walking on a trail and edged along, I got too far off the path and fell down a small ravine into a pool of water and mud. My glasses flew off and as I struggled to pull myself up by a couple of exposed tree roots I knew I would never see those glasses again. My goose was cooked. I drove home 30 miles in the dark, hitting the brake every so often when my perspective got messed up. I am not organized. I didn't have prescription copies or anything. I just made my way that next day, a Sunday afternoon, to the mall and paid Arab oil prices for a new pair of glasses.

I have toyed with the idea of having my eyes cut and ending my life of glasses forever. My problem is that ever six months some laser ad says that their new procedure is so much improved. I wonder what would have happened if I had broken down six months earlier and got the procedure done.

I had my contact lenses phase. It was the soft kind that were thinner than the clear plastic on cigarette packages. But I had the darnest time getting them in. I would somehow get it under the bottom lid and do some silly flipping action hoping the top would touch the eyeball and stick. You were supposed to clean them often but I ended up going a month without taking them out and by then they felt like a mild sandpaper.

And then I just stopped wearing them. I wake up in the morning, stagger into the bathroom, brush my teeth, scrape a little stubble off my face with a disposable razor, shower for three minutes and then I am done. I am not good at the long time in the bathroom, the applying this and that or putting in contact lenses. So I for years have been back to my glasses.

I was once interviewing this woman for a story and she reached out and took my glasses off in the middle of the interview and reached into her purse and retrieved a handkerchief and cleaned my glasses. Usually I would several times a day give them a swipe with my necktie but in this instance must have forgotten. "I don't see how you could see without cleaning them," she said.

I should have been embarrassed I guess, but was more surprised by her action.

My glasses are nothing spectacular, gold frames and the little fish line that holds them in. I had friends in high school and college who had the Woodrow Wilson wafer thin ones that I loved. They looked so studious and cool. But my subscription calls for thick enough lenses I can't have these cool glasses.

Some people just look cool in glasses. Sometimes when I drink too much and trot out to the dance floor, dragging along any willing victim, I take my glasses off and put them in my pocket. It frees me up to not worry about them.

I guess the weirdest thing that ever happened to me with my glasses, more weird than my ravine fall, was the other year in New Orleans on vacation. I left a bar and was walking to another when a man came up and was too close and started talking to me with an opening line like "Hey, look here." He tried to grab my wallet, but I took both hands and blocked him and we were wrestling around and he realizing he wasn't going to get the money reached out and stole my glasses and ran off. A half block away he waved them at me and taunted me with them. I kind of regretted that I had not surrendered my money. For the next day and a half I walked around New Orleans until the optometrist could make me another pair, again at Arab oil prices.

I would like to say that all of these negative experiences changed me, made me keep my prescription on file, made me keep a spare pair when I could find them and other things. The truth is nothing changed. Afterall, I am old and Southern.

Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor at the News Daily and Daily Herald and can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257 or at bpaslay@news-daily.com.