On Monday I picked up my first pair of prescription reading glasses from OPSM. It felt like some sort of rite of passage - like getting your first bra or your driver's licence or having your first legal drink in a licensed establishment. I haven't worn my glasses in public yet but will no doubt feel self-conscious the first few times. I won't know quite how to handle them and consequently will feel like something of a fraud in the presence of others. I'm sure the sense that I'm trying someone else's spectacles on for size will pass.
Over the preceding months I'd noticed myself holding written material further away than I usually do but the most powerful recognition came at a pre-Christmas function. Two girlfriends and I crowded around someone's iPhone probably for the purpose of hooting over some scandalous email. When we all simultaneously jolted our heads back in order to focus more clearly on the words on the screen it was obvious the three of us needed our eyes tested.
Having always enjoyed excellent eyesight, I wasn't sure where to begin. I made an appointment at my GP who said I needed to visit an optometrist. So, imagining it was only a five-minute job, I dropped by OPSM in the hope they could see me on the spot. Instead I made a fifty-minute appointment for the following day during which my patient optometrist would cover up one of my eyes to ascertain how well I could see through various lenses with the other one.
"Which is best: view one or view two?" she'd ask over and over, as she deftly changed lenses. I could usually answer with confidence but sometimes I'd ask to see them again before I could decide. And sometimes I'd say that I wasn't even sure there was a difference. I hadn't realised how much concentration an eye test required. It was exhausting.
Despite feeling like I'd somehow failed to answer the questions adequately, the resulting prescription glasses perform well. Perhaps they perform a little too well. For it's not just written words that are amplified. People's faces now have pores and some have more freckles than I'd initially thought.
The imperfections in my own skin have emerged loud and clear in the mirror, and my hands look older than they used to. Eyesight must deteriorate almost imperceptibly. Maybe it's nature's way of shielding us from too sharp an awareness of our own ageing. Even the car speedometer is crisper when viewed through my new glasses.
My husband is not the most observant person. As explained in Something fishy about that diet, he didn't notice when I became a pescetarian - and I can sneak new objects into the house without him ever noticing - so I figured it would be days if not weeks before he realised I now wore reading glasses.
I figured wrong. The minute he arrived home from work he spied the spectacles sitting on my computer keyboard. "Glasses?" he said. "Put them on and let me see." I did as I was asked. "Sexy," he declared, even though they make me look like an older, more serious, librarian-esque version of myself.
And because I didn't opt for split lenses, when I sit watching television with a magazine on my knee I prop the spectacles on the end of my nose so I can read with their aid but view the television unassisted. Evidently, this is not a sexy look. Oh well, you can't win them all.