Only lifelong glasses wearers, or those who have battled with contacts from time to time, know what it means to get new glasses, to alter the way that everyone looks at your face.
For some people, glasses are an accent, an occasional need for close up or far away. For the inveterate glasses wearers, those spectacles are a part of our beings, our psyches, our essences. They are not a fashion statement, particularly; they are a necessity.
And so, with some trepidation, I tossed off the old glasses look and went with a completely different one.
In short, there are two basic glasses choices: wear a dramatic "Yes, I wear glasses" frame or wear something with thin wire rims or maybe almost no frame at all which says, "I barely wear glasses at all, can you even tell?"
Fashion tends to vacillate between these choices, but if you are as old as I am, past the age of fashionability, unable or willing to try to keep up, then you just make your own choices, go with them, and don't apologize.
I had gone with the small, barely glasses look for all of this century, but reluctantly, as in talked into it by women in my family or a salesperson or both. The "just barely" look had served me well, I suppose, but any time I actually talked about glasses ( which would be about as often as I talk about haircuts, being an introvert, as in never), I verbalized wanting a " classic" look.
Now, for better or worse, I have it. After walking into LensCrafters with a Ray-Ban display featured prominently at the mouth of the store, I have gone classic with a pair of Ray-Ban glasses and sunglasses. I have never owned prescription sunglasses before. Now I do.
When you wear assertive glasses, as I am doing now, then the "barely" glasses seem weak, an unwillingness to acknowledge that you have to wear them. Glasses with distinct frames make you, as in me, feel powerful and smart. Like Rick Perry.
In Emmanuel Carrere's novel, The Moustache, a man loses his identity when he shaves off his Moustache. People don't recognize him, refuse to believe that he is who he is. A person who wears glasses has a similar fear. Will my new glasses cause people to see me differently?
Now that I've been wearing mine for two days, including a test drive around both floors of our local mall yesterday, it does feel like people have been noticing them; I've gotten a few stares along with a few compliments. It's a strange feeling, getting comments on glasses when the people commenting don't know you and when no one ever really commented on the glasses you wore for the previous 8 or more years. Were the previous glasses not worth commenting on, or was that their point? Are these new glasses really "me"?
Even more surprising or disconcerting when I bought the glasses and was getting them fitted, was to have a "Black Hawk Down" Marine veteran who was waiting on me say, "Dude, you've got great hair." Don't hear that one much. Do the glasses bring out the beauty of my hair?
For the introvert, the thought of reentering the work world with new summer glasses is tantamount to that dream some of us have where we show up somewhere but forgot our clothes. But the beauty of glasses is that you can hide behind them, if you want to. You can let them do the work for you, as if you really had little to do with the wearing of them, as if you know that they make you someone else and that your true essence is without them. Or that maybe you really are seeking a different identity. Just ask Superman.