Vanity Unfair

eyeglasses“Not to be vain” I said to my daughter, “but have I always had circles under my eyes?”

“We all have circles under our eyes,” she said. I wasn’t sure whether she meant “all” as in everyone in our family or as in all of humankind. No matter.

Since my cataract surgery three months ago I have been getting used to what I refer to as my new eyes — actually, just new lens implants. Also to my face without glasses. The eye doctor urged me to try not to use my reading glasses but I still need them for newsprint and the smart phone. The daughter gave me a cord for hanging them around my neck, and I gave her grief for thinking I needed such an “old lady” accessory. “But this one is leather,” she said. “It’s not one with pearls or little beads.”

In truth, it’s quite handy, plus there’s no reason to bother with jewelry when you’ve got a pair of glasses hanging from your neck. They go with everything.

I find it especially useful in the supermarket where, without glasses, I can get my hand on our preferred brand of coffee. But then I need the glasses to be sure it’s whole beans, not ground, and regular tasting, not — heaven forbid — one of those awful flavored ones. So as I make my way up and down the market’s aisles, the glasses go up and down as well. When they go down I think, “I’ll bet people think I’m too vain to wear my glasses.” That’s what I used to think about other people. So far I’ve resisted the urge to periodically announce to anyone within earshot that this activity is born of necessity, not vanity.

However, when I mentioned to a friend my newly discovered under-eye circles, she sent this observation: “The circle under the eye camouflage has been one of my main reasons for wearing glasses for years. Forget the vision; let’s get to the important things!”

“Maybe,” I wrote back, “that’s why people wear those tinted glasses. Also sunglasses inside.”

Never too old for vanity.

On a Clear Day I Can Read a Menu

brooke shields 3

 You know you’ve been around a long time when the Ivory Soap baby needs reading glasses.

In a commercial for Foster Grant eyewear, Brooke Shields notices her dining companion squinting at the menu and hands her glasses across the table. Then she also squints at her own menu and takes them back. Been there, done that.

The actress, and at one time wildly successful fashion model, was through the years repeatedly heralded among “the most beautiful women in the world.” Her first modeling job for Ivory soap came when she was 11 months old. Her most famous one was probably the “nothing comes between me and my Calvins” ads for Calvin Klein jeans when she was 15. (She’s also, I’m sure you know, a Princeton graduate, author, former wife of tennis star Andre Agassi and now apparently more happily married to writer/producer Chris Henchy and the mother of two daughters.)

So about reading glasses. I remember well telling the eye doctor that even with my reading glasses I was experiencing difficulty with printed words on paper, and the doctor, who was a friend, began by saying, “Well, Pat, when we get to a certain age…” I stopped him. “You’re going to say I need bifocals, aren’t you? Well, if that’s the case they’ll have to be the kind with no lines.” This was so long ago that I would be his first patient with the lineless – otherwise known as progressive – lenses so he was most interested in how well I would adapt to them. The answer was just fine, once I made a few trips up and down stairs.

(I’d already begun leaving my old glasses on longer for simplicity sake; at least you always knew where they were. Also, I noticed in business meetings how distracting it was when people continually put on and took off their glasses. “Hmm, now he’s going to put them on. And watch, now he’s going to take them off. Oops, there he goes again, putting them on. And what exactly did he just say? Who knows.”)

That same doctor friend offered me a way to try out bifocal contact lenses when they became available. The idea of sticking something in my eye had never appealed to me but I was intrigued. “How does that work?” I asked. “How do you get the bifocal part in the right place?” Very simple: The bifocal part of the lens is all around the perimeter so no matter how they’re inserted when you look down to read you’re looking through the correct part. Pretty ingenious on someone’s part. Anyway, this doctor would let me take as long as necessary to get used to contacts, working with his nurse/assistant until I was proficient at inserting and removing the lenses. I went for several sessions, and on the final one with my brand new kit all set up and ready for me to take home, we went through one more trial. Suddenly, a speck of eye makeup got in there with the lens, causing pain that I remember as excruciating. “Take it out, take it out!” I screamed. “Now, now,” she said in her calm nurse/assistant voice, “you know how to do it. You take it out.” It took some doing but I got the lens removed and said, “You know, I think I need more practice. I’ll come back.” But I never did.

And now I’m at the age where I’ll one day need cataract surgery, once the silly things are deemed “ready.” But for now, I can read restaurant menus just fine.

Photo: Facebook