M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Friday, August 15, 2003  

I Can See Clearly Now

The glasses I’ve been wearing for almost four years got retired last night. It was way overdue. It’s not that the prescription was terribly outdated, or that the frames looked like they’d been cannibalized from a pair of aviator shades. It’s that the lenses were worn clear out. They were dull and foggy, as if I’d been cleaning them with steel wool. Periodically over the past year, the light would hit them just right and someone would notice their near-opacity.

“You need to clean your glasses,” they might say.

“Be my guest,” I’d say, handing them over.

Then I’d wait patiently while with increasing puzzlement my well-meaning friend or family member would try to clear away grunge that wasn’t going anywhere. Defeated, they would eventually hand them back to me, saying, “You need new glasses.”

Not any more.

I picked out new frames last weekend, called in my prescription on Tuesday, picked up the new specs last night. They’re preferable in the sense of giving me sharper vision, a better fit to my head, and a snappy pair of magnetic sunglass clips that snap on and turn me into instant Neo.

When I first put them on, I thought they were distorting my depth perception. In fact they were, but only because I’m used to things being blurrier when they’re farther away. Putting them on and looking out into the mall gave me a brief moment of disorientation, as if I were driving a car while looking through binoculars. It was great.

Then, much later in the evening, I got a look at myself in the mirror before bed and wondered what the hell had happened to me.

It’s not that I’d chosen the wrong frames and suddenly looked like a lemur. The issue was that I could see myself better than I had been able to in quite some time. The gauze had been ripped away from the camera lens, and it was a startling sight.

I’ve always looked young for my age. I attribute this to clean living; no smoking, limited red meat intake, infrequent use of hard liquor, and black tar heroin only on the weekends. I’ve flattered myself that I look like a prematurely graying guy in his mid-to-late twenties.

Now I know that that was just an illusion. Seeing myself through my new glasses was like suddenly aging five years. The newly sharpened focus of my vision combined with the bathroom light to bring the ravages of time into sharp detail. My tired eyes, eleven o’clock shadow, and slack skin painted the bleak picture of a man in his mid-thirties. If I hadn’t been having a good hair day I would have gone out and bought a Corvette that very second.

And it’s not like I could go up to anyone and say, “Holy crap, look how old I look! Why didn’t anybody tell me I look this old?” They just would have assumed I knew. I would have to get through this on my own. My appearance wasn’t going to be a shock to anyone but me. That, of course, made it worse.

I thought, Christ, my life is passing me by. I’m thirty-three, stuck in a dead-end job—wait, no I’m not any more!

And then I looked around at the recently-renovated bathroom that had looked like ass just a year and a half before, in a house that had been falling apart just a few years before that. I thought about how I was entering my 144th month of marriage to my favorite person in the world. And I thought, yeah, I look thirty-three. But I’m supposed to look like thirty-three. And for the first time in a long, long time, I’m feeling like my career is catching up to the other great things in my life. It’s catching up to where it was supposed to be by now.

Third-life crisis averted! Somebody get me a steak, a cigar, and some whiskey.

* * *

I don’t know if this is connected to the blackout, but I haven’t been getting my e-mail the past couple of days. It’s not even bouncing back, and Trash has checked. So if you’ve sent anything the last couple of days, I’m not ignoring you. You may want to send it again. I mean, I want to be able to make a fully informed decision about being able to drive a spike through a railroad tie with my tremendous man-hammer, you know?

posted by M. Giant 3:38 PM 0 comments


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