Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Blurry perspective adds magic, hot air balloons

Good glasses didn’t exist until the beginning of the twentieth century, with advances in glass grinding and the official licensure of optometry as a profession. The practice wouldn’t have worked earlier than that anyway, because the magazine industry hadn’t been around long enough to keep waiting rooms stocked with three-year old issues of Redbook.

It was a much more magical world before optometry. In medieval times, dragons flew in the sky, fairies frolicked and horrible teeth weren’t a turn-off. Longing for those magical times, I decided to take a naked-eye jog the other day. But nothing perverse happened, not that I saw anyway.

I’d barely got an iPod when I decided to go for this iJog, without wearing glasses or contact lenses, relying only on my keen sense of smell to guide and protect me in my eye-fog. Indeed it was a magical experience, much like in the days of yore. Instead of the usual yipping Chihuahuas, little white bunnies and red-haired leprechauns ran up to dance with and serenade me (That’s what it looked like; all I could hear in my shiny new white earbuds was Sheena Easton’s “My Baby Takes the Morning Train!”).

Near a park, instead of Honda Civics and minivans I saw four Ferraris racing. Oh, if I were nine years old again! But it was good that I wasn’t because this sight would have sent me into ecstatic spasms from which I’d never recover. Stop signs and traffic were not the annoyance that they usually are. I saw a truck hauling a real-life Idaho potato as big as a pre-fabricated swimming pool, a hungry wolf that thankfully stood perfectly still as I ran by, several supermodels, a hot air balloon behind a tree, several Chilean flags, and a couple of unicorns (one black and one white) where a Holstein cow used to graze. I didn’t know I lived in such an interesting neighborhood.

It reminded me of when I first got glasses at age 17. A lot of magic disappeared from my life, and the world got uglier that day. I was much more handsome before glasses, but it wasn’t that the frames looked geeky on my face. It was that I could actually see my face, instead of the usual creamy blur in the mirror. Pimples theretofore weren’t really noticeable, but now I knew all of mine as individuals with their own sassy personalities. Moles had instantly sprouted thick dark hairs. Dust and lint was everywhere in the world of wearing glasses. Quarters became nickels. Suddenly all the cars got scratched and dented. Even the cheerleaders, who always looked dream-like and airbrushed before my glasses, were now slovenly, clumps of mascara blotted their eyelashes.

But glasses are important to teen life and culture. Glasses are the teen movie makers’ best prop. How else would one indicate that a girl, geek or librarian, whom everyone used to overlook, had instantaneously become hot, if not by having her yank the eyeglasses off? This doesn’t work for guys like me. I tried it. I even took my hair out of is bun and shook my head glamorously. Nothing happened. Maybe I needed a better soundtrack.

Someday we might not see glasses anymore. I hope it’s because we decided to go back to blurry and magical and not because of Lasik surgery. If I have to stop wearing glasses, I’ll still be reaching for them to push them back onto my face occasionally, an affectionate habit I find myself doing when wearing contacts. If I ever let them laser my eyeballs, I’ll have to get a little button installed on my nose between my eyes, something to push so that it looks like I’m doing something useful as I habitually reach for my phantom frames. I hope the button makes magical stuff appear, maybe a hot librarian leprechaun riding on a unicorn.

As Benjamin Franklin, inventor of the flexible urinary catheter once said, “I’ll see it when I believe it.” And if you don’t believe me about the enormous potato, I’ll send you a postcard that proves it.