This wasn't about fashion, I told myself, it was a quest for pure functionality. I'd been putting this moment, this purchase, off for at least a handful of years, but as a person who spends a great deal of time staring at computer screens and newspapers as I read and try to perform my job duties day after day, I could feel my eye muscles straining more and more, and I assumed that was what was causing an uptick in the number of headaches I get.
I was shopping for eyeglasses known as "readers" or "cheaters." I was new at this, though, so I was particularly thankful to see written across the top of the store display featuring dozens of pairs of readers, "NEW AT THIS? HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO DO."
What I needed to do, I was advised, was start at the lowest power, then hold my cell phone at a reasonable distance from my eyes and see how clear the words on the screen looked. A couple minutes later, I'd determined I required only a low power, so all that was left to determine was what style of readers I was going to purchase. At this particular display in this particular store, there wasn't a lot to choose from, maybe four styles.
But, I figured, who cares? I put on a couple of different pairs, glanced at myself in the tiny, plastic, hopelessly smudged mirror, and went with a pair that, I concluded, didn't look too terrible, but at the same time didn't look incredibly wonderful, either. But, seriously, if, at least for the foreseeable future you don’t plan on leaving your house while wearing something, how much consideration are you going to give to how you look?
A few hours later, at home, I alerted my wife to my purchase, and she naturally wanted me to put my readers on and show her how I looked. I cautioned her that I hadn't really put a lot of thought into how my newest facial accessory looked on me. She assured me that she was sure I looked just fine with them on, so with middling confidence I slipped them on and managed a half-hearted, "tah-dah!" when I revealed my new look. Then she just kind of looked at me for a few seconds, and responded with a "Huh" that was neither an affirmation nor a criticism, but, as I took it, was about as lukewarm of an endorsement as a person could get.
Still a rookie in the world of readers/cheaters, my wife gave me a valuable tip later in the evening as I sat in the recliner doing some work on my laptop, while also trying to keep up with the football game on TV. Don't wear them like a normal pair of glasses, she advised, wear them lower on my nose so that when I look at my computer screen I can see everything clearly, but when I glance up at the television I'd be able to see in clear fashion what was going on there, too. She was right, of course, but the moment I slid my readers further down the bridge of my nose, I felt like every millimeter added a decade to my age.
But all that mattered was that I could read what was in front of me. It led me to wonder where along the line were these “readers” eyeglasses strapped with the seemingly negative name “cheaters”? What am I cheating? My brain? My optic nerve? Father time?
Whatever it takes...whatever it takes.