Four-eyes. Remember when that was the kind of insult that burned? I do, because I got called this name many times in public school, to which my babysitter at the time suggested I reply with the clever comeback, “four eyes are better than two, jerk face.” 

Though well-meaning, that babysitter got me into more trouble than either of us anticipated. On the bright side, my fitness level was great. I learned to outrun the bullies, so there’s that.

I have worn glasses since I was two years old. I had amblyopia, also known as “lazy eye,” which even a toddler knows is a very unfair judgement for one’s eyeballs. My left eye wasn’t lazy, it was distracted. Nonconformist. It had a mind of its own. Even surgery couldn’t straighten it out. I likened it to a creative eye, which in my childish opinion was a more accurate and flattering term.

Unfortunately, I was born in the decade of the ugliest eyewear imaginable. The 70s were a weird fashion decade altogether. I was a victim of the times. Oh boy, was I. My eyewear options were black, brown or grey squared frames. Ugly. Roy Orbison’s eyewear had nothing on Kelly Waterhouse. Who’s crying now, Roy? Huh? Me, Roy. Me.

My glasses had one lens thick enough to magnify small print and the other lens thick enough to burn ants in the school yard. I was aware of my power. I even had kids dare me to try it in the school yard. But I was the kid who cried when other kids squashed the ant hills. I understood karma, even in Grade 3. 

I also understood that Troy, my Grade 5 crush, who had perfect hair and shared my love of Billy Joel,  only had eyes for Yvonne, a sporty girl who wore double barrettes in her bobbed haircut, and didn’t even know who Billy Joel was, but was blessed not to have four-eyes. Jerk face.

I was supposed to wear glasses all the time. School. Recess. Dance class. Playing. Writing “Troy loves Kelly” in my notebook. Everywhere. Thankfully, I was a child prodigy (self-proclaimed) who learned quickly that if I misplaced my eyeglasses or encouraged our dog to eat them or, and this was my classic move, sat on them and busted them into pieces, I would get a temporary reprieve from eyewear.

Unfortunately, I would also get the scolding of a lifetime. I didn’t like disappointing my mother. I knew she worked hard to buy me glasses, and that taking time off work for optometry appointments was not great for her career. I want to say I understood, but the truth is, all I knew was that appointments were an excuse to skip school. 

I see what happened. I brought this on myself, clearly. I currently have six pairs of eyewear. I need glasses for everything. I need glasses to find my glasses. Around-the-house glasses. Driving glasses. Home computer glasses with a blue screen protection, not to be confused by blue screen protected bifocals for my work computer. I have reading glasses on my bedside table, strictly for fiction, and drug store cheater glasses, for when I leave any of the above anywhere that I cannot find them. 

Ironically, I freelanced for an eyewear magazine, writing about eyewear fashion. Glasses are cool now. And Troy peaked in high school. See? Four eyes are better than two.

WriteOut of Her Mind