The Look Of... Pretentiousness

I have a serious confession to make. One which I am slightly mortified to be making in such a public forum. I wear fake eye glasses. I know this is completely ridiculous for a guy my age, which is exactly why I removed my nipple piercings a little while back. I figured it was just a tad bit creepy for guy closing in on his 40's to be pierced and without a Harley fat-boy or a rock band to justify it. Fake eye wear, on the other hand, is an entirely different story for one looking to break onto the scene as an important and pretentious writer.

I'm not sure exactly, when this optical obsession began, but I'm going to guess it was sometime around the publication of my first written work, The First Story of the Iranian Hostages, which I wrote in the second grade for my school's short story contest. Although the documented content, stark prose and Crayola Crayon illustrations I hand-copied from my parents' Newsweek Magazines earned me a chance to meet children's author, Syd Hoff. It did not, however, result in the immediate issuance of pretentious looking eye wear.

In fact, I wouldn't own a pair of glasses anytime soon, as it appeared I had not just perfect vision, but freakishly perfect vision. The school nurse treated me like part star pupil, part circus attraction during my annual eye exams where I would regularly register scores of 20/13. The first time she gave me the results of the test, I assumed anything lower than a perfect 20/20 equated to a one-way ticket to the very image of intellectual superiority. I guess I should have been more suspicious of the way she kept saying, "Hmmm, interesting," while each time, pointing to a smaller row of letters. "What about this one?"

Curse the medical genius who developed this optical rating system for being a golf enthusiast as a decreasing score indicates healthier eyesight. "You see this line here," the nurse said dragging her figure across a row of large letters I would have confused with those on a movie marque. "That's perfect 20/20 vision," she continued. "No need to read anything smaller really, but I was a little bored today."

Every year after that, upon entering the nurse's office for the regular check up it was always some crack. "Hey, it's Mr. Superman with that x-ray vision", or "Well if it ain't Ol' Eagle Eyes. Still eatin' your carrots?" Every line felt like a proverbial slap in my intellectual, yet unadorened face.

As if this weren't frustrating enough, the fact I possessed faulty genes made my desire all the more maddening. Of my parents and three sisters, all of them require corrective eye wear. "You're so lucky you don't have to deal with these stupid things," they all say with a sort of apologetic tone. It was as if they felt sorry over the fact I was indiscriminately awarded razor vision and ADD, while they all received a reason to look smart and fashionable along with the ability to work at the computer for long periods without being distracted by emails from Canadian pharmacies promising sure solutions to erectile dysfunction.

By my freshman year of high school, the funky, fresh trends of the mid 80's supplied me with a perfect eye wear accessory, the flip-up sunglasses. At first glance, they looked like any other set of shades, but with one easy motion, the shaded lenses flipped up on a hinge that anchored to a set of matching clear lenses. Hence the look of glasses combined with the practicality of protection from the sun's harmful rays.

Although my first pair, which had over sized rims and reflective mirrored lenses, were an abysmal fashion disaster, I believed the concept in theory, to be rather brilliant. Eventually I earned enough money to purchase a real hip, rad and gnarly pair allowing me to toss the old ones, which I neglected to mention I bought at a country gas station for $4.99. I believe the attendant, some old codger, called me a hippie as I tried them on. No matter. That cheap set was history as I had the "real" things now.

So absolutely convinced of their realness, I decided there should be no reason why I wouldn't wear them to school, and what better place to start than my English class. All of my classmates known for their writing skills wore glasses, and upon witnessing me pull off both wit and whimsy with my new specs, would surely hold me and my art in the same high-esteem they held for themselves. However, upon my entrance into the classroom, the teacher took one look at me and held out her hand. "Give 'em to me." And that, folks, was the end of that, as they say.

I was allowed possession of my glasses at the end of the day where I was told never to wear them at school again. Shortly thereafter an amendment to the student dress code was sent home to our parents informing them that flip-up sunglasses were most definitely a crime against God, as were my cargo pants and my suspenders. Apparently, the administration at my ultra-conservative Baptist school didn't want its students portraying a funky, fresh faith; that, and wearing anything considered "fake" was not true, and what is not truth is lying. By the sounds of it I almost made murder look good.

Eventually, the flip-top shades faded in trendy popularity. I wasn't too upset over this as I came to realize they tended to made me look light on wit and much heavier on the whimsical end of things. Not at all the image I hoped to achieve, although there was a brief encounter where I was wearing these glasses after soccer practice and one of my teammates - a local ruffian from the wrong side of the pew - said I looked like a "beatnik." Beatnik being a term associated with poets and writers, I took his comment to be a compliment and I thanked him sincerely, not realizing however, he was attempting to scrap with me.

Since then there have been many years and many pairs of fake eyeglasses to include ones I secretly purchased at a girl's accessory store in the mall, and a dark-rimmed pair I bought from a street vendor in the village during a trip to New York City. Being that they were from a city famed for its literary legacy, I felt these glasses possessed special qualities that would somehow pass on to me the vision I needed to find my voice on paper.

This was not to happen and I blame this on account of my New York City specials being too small for my head, thus cutting off blood and oxygen flow to my brain. If you were to look at me straight on as I wore them, you would notice a more than slight bow in the arm of glasses as they ran from the frame to my ear. I looked like I was wearing a prop for a stage theatrical in which I played the part of a nerdy child half my age. I told myself I looked eccentric, but in time, I finally had to admit to myself this was just another futile attempt to look smarter than I actually was. I finally put those glasses away, pulling them out only when I need to avoid certain people at social gatherings, and when I my photo ID's require updating.

Tomorrow: Part 2

I had pretty much given up on the idea of glasses until I met Ashley. You know you've found your soul mate when, while walking hand-in-hand through a crowded mall, you are both stopped dead in your tracks at the site of kiosk vendor selling designer brand, knock-off, eye wear at $24.99 for two pairs, and they are absolutley fake.

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