From the black and white picture above, you may not know that I wear glasses when I need to identify anything more than six feet away. Basically, I whip out the spectacles to identify people and road signs as well as whenever I need to appear smarter than I am.
I was not born with poor vision, as I remember that for the first nineteen years of my life, my vision was fantastic, able to view near and distant objects with absolute clarity. I recall as a young child imitating Newton by staring directly into the sun, my eyes becoming strained under the strength of the light before I was forced to turn away due to the pain. Come to think of it, that explains a lot of my later vision issues.
I still remember the ordeal of realizing that I first needed glasses. During a particularly heavy university semester, I would go to bed at midnight and get up at 4:00 A.M. to study in the kitchen, using a small microwave clock across the room to keep track of the time. One day, I looked up from my usual seat and could not read the time. Attempts at squinting did not improve the situation and a trip to the optometrist confirmed what I had feared, I had joined the glasses crowd.
Next came the issue of purchasing glasses. Recently, glasses have recently become a fashion statement, with Calvin Klein and other designer brands selling for hundreds of dollars. I did not want to spend hundreds of dollars, but I did want to look like a character out of the Matrix, having seen a friend with a pair that matched those worn by Ghost.
Approaching the counter outside the optometrist’s office to fulfill my glasses prescription, I was greeted by grandmotherly figure who was the only clerk on duty. Short, round and easily over sixty years of age, I struggled to describe the type of glasses I was looking for. I scrambled to come up with references she would be familiar with, suggesting that I wanted to look like a corporate type, but not an accountant. That I wanted small circular glasses, but not the type associated with librarians and scribes. Finally, after trying on a particularly strange pair that resembled those used by colonial governors, I broke down and asked the elderly clerk if she had heard of the Matrix. In a tone that implied this was a daily question, she casually replied “Oh, do you want to look like Agent Smith?”
I stood stunned. I had underestimated not only the clerk, but the uniqueness of my idea. The Matrix is a very popular film and why shouldn’t the elderly staff member be familiar with the movie. It was R-rated after all and who says that older people can’t enjoy dystopian cyberpunk. I was roused by the clerk as she ushered me over to a pair that she had likely done dozens if not hundreds of times before for other Matrix fans. Though I had to wait a week for the new frames, I left the Optometrists office with a new perspective on the world. Don’t judge a book by its cover; a common saying but one that can’t be repeated enough.