Clear
71°
Clear
Hi 86° | Lo 59°
One Man

One Man’s Plan: Bad vision – it happens to the best of us

  • Tim O' Shea tries on a pair of eye glasses at his home in Concord. Needing glasses was a difficult thing for him to accept. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Tim O' Shea tries on a pair of eye glasses at his home in Concord. Needing glasses was a difficult thing for him to accept.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Tim O' Shea tries on a pair of eye glasses at his home in Concord. Needing glasses was a difficult thing for him to accept. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Tim O' Shea tries on a pair of eye glasses at his home in Concord. Needing glasses was a difficult thing for him to accept.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Tim O' Shea tries on a pair of eye glasses at his home in Concord. Needing glasses was a difficult thing for him to accept. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Tim O' Shea tries on a pair of eye glasses at his home in Concord. Needing glasses was a difficult thing for him to accept.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Tim O' Shea tries on a pair of eye glasses at his home in Concord. Needing glasses was a difficult thing for him to accept. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Tim O' Shea tries on a pair of eye glasses at his home in Concord. Needing glasses was a difficult thing for him to accept. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Tim O' Shea tries on a pair of eye glasses at his home in Concord. Needing glasses was a difficult thing for him to accept. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

‘I’ll never need eye glasses. They’re for people who didn’t eat enough carrots growing up. And everyone knows Clark Kent doesn’t put glasses on to become Superman.” These are the things I’ve said to myself over and over, proud I won’t be that chump in the monocle. I’m in my mid-40s and glasses free, and I plan to remain this way forever.

Of all my secret nicknames, “Eagle Eye” is my favorite, right ahead of “King Elf,” but that’s a story for another day. My eyesight’s one of my more attractive features, and I’ve scoffed at contemporaries in their cheaters and transition lenses. Transitioned from what – cool guy to nerd? I’ve even made the trip to the ophthalmologist an annual rite of my middle years, getting a thumbs-up from the doctor and his staff to validate my lack of visual impairment. “I wish we had more patients like you,” I bet they say to themselves softly as I bound out the door. “You don’t even need our help.”

But something’s not been right for a while. The fine print’s been getting a little too fine, and trying to read anything via full arm extension with an unattractive squint/frown is awkward. A recent visit to the eye doctor clarified this sad truth for me as my plan for ocular perfection started crumbling. The technician showed me the eye chart and asked me to read back the second-to-last row. “I see a tiny charcoal drawing of Leon Trotsky’s beard, Tatu from Fantasy Island and the electron configuration for the element Manganese,” I stated with waning confidence.

“I was looking for X, B and F. Are you sure you don’t wear glasses?” At that moment, my world crashed down as images of the spectacle-wearing historical figures I’ve held in contempt cascaded in front of me – Gandhi, FDR, Dame Edna – at least that’s what I think they were but couldn’t really tell because everything was blurry. A few tests later, my doctor broke my heart, saying, “You’ve had a nice run. I think it’s time,” and handing me a prescription.

That was three months ago, and even with a diagnosis, I’ve ignored this new reality. But this Mr. Magoo impersonation of mine is proving a useless defense against the march of time. I need glasses. But choosing the wrong pair could be disastrous. There’s a very fine line between Charles Whitman and Charles Nelson Reilly.

To straddle that line, I order five test pairs on the internet (warbyparker.com) that arrive days later in a neat blue box with names that evoke sophistication, like “Chamberlain” and “Chapman” in brushed granite.

My first choice is the “Crosby,” in a burgundy fade. These thick brown frames combine the aesthetics of Buddy Holly and Woody Allen with Mr. Daskin, my sixth-grade shop teacher, who had 8.7 fingers and a can-do attitude. I like how they announce, “I now wear GLASSES!” They make me look thoughtful and slightly unhinged, like Shelton John, Elton’s eccentric yet successful younger brother.

My daughter’s having none of it.

“Wow. Those are really unflattering,” she says as she saunters by. Crosby goes back in the box, my hopes blown away like a candle in the wind.

I switch to the “Chamberlain” as I run a few errands. The dry cleaner does a double-take, and I ask her opinion. “You look intellectual and serious,” she says. Her co-worker arrives from the back and adds, “Those frames are great for your face, and the color matches your hair and eyes. They make you look like a professor.” I need to spend a lot more time at the dry cleaner.

The next day I choose the “Webb,” in revolver black crystal, a narrow pair of circular frames fitting snug on my face. I wear them to a local charity event, where friends say things like, “They make you look smarter” and “Wear those all the time because you look thinner.” Later that weekend as I audition the remaining frames, I hear everything from, “You’re joking, right?” and “You’re a moron,” to “What a stud muffin!” and, my daughter’s brutally honest statement, “Dad, you look creepy.”

One final attempt with a thin wire frame pair garners me the comment, “Those frames say, ‘I’m a dad who likes world music and runs every morning,’ but in a cool way.” I enjoy many things in this life, but daily jogs and listening to pan flute sonatas are not high on my list. The “Chapman” frames go back into the box.

Accepting that I’m no longer Eagle Eye O’Shea is tough enough, but this five-day experiment is leaving me more confused than when I started. I’ve learned some frames increase my IQ by 75 points, while others peg me in a ’93 Chevy conversion van parked next to the playground, cranking didgeridoo/klezmer mash-ups.

I need to make a decision – these frames don’t have real lenses in them, and the ingredients on the box of Honeycombs appear to now be written in 3-point sans serif munchkin font. It’s time to act.

I make my choice, picking a pair of “Crane” frames in whiskey tortoise, which sounds less like a color choice and more like a hazing ritual for a zookeeper’s apprentice. They’re not too wide and not too narrow, a subtle selection somewhere between casual astronaut and retired thrill seeker, the exact look I’m going for. They should arrive any day now, and then my plan for a glasses-free life ends, another brick in my bulwark against old age and imperfection pulverized to dust. But it’s okay – this creepy, stud muffin moron’s never really liked carrots anyway.

(Email your comments or suggestions to timcoshea@gmail.com)

When you get your new glasses, you're going to love what you can now see. I felt the same way as you. I was 45 when I got my first pair of eyeglasses. I was at the doctor's office and without glasses I could see the restaurant across the street. When I put on my new glasses, I could see the people in the restaurant. I wonder how long I needed glasses, before I got them? I still don't like the looks of me in glasses, but I do like seeing better.

Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.