Glasses, you can’t live with them, can’t live without them

In 7th grade, on a particularly warm day in Wisconsin, I was walking to school with a friend. The world looked watery, as if everything was melting a bit in the unseasonal heat. I commented on the shimmery trees to my friend but she couldn’t see them. Then I turned to her. She, too, looked wobbly. Was I going crazy? It dawned on me that the glasses I had thrown on that morning–in a haste to leave–were the culprits. They seemed to frame the world more boldly–dark lines along the edge of my vision. As I moved my eyes within their field, two older boys came toward us, the kind your parents hope you avoid. As a mere 7th grader, 14 year olds didn’t talk to me, though I saw them every day. Today, though, they called out to us. “Where’d you get those glasses” one shouted, “from Steve Urkel?” This then-popular TV character was your typical nerd: suspenders, high-pitched voice, and, of course, huge round frames hanging from the end of his nose. This was not a compliment; it was “four eyes” all over again. “They’re my brother’s!” I shouted back, more boldly than I felt. That made them laugh more, taunting, “Urkel’s sister lost her glasses!” I had, in fact, broken my glasses climbing a neighborhood tree a bit too vigorously. My irritated parents told me my brother’s old pair would have to do until a weekend trip to the store. So, I wore them, not proudly. For a week I couldn’t shake that “Urkel’s sister,” but when I returned to school on Monday with unobtrusive wire frames, I noticed the bullies turned their attention to the poor kid who showed up to school in a knee brace. Glasses, you can’t live with them, can’t live without them. As a lifelong glasses-wearer and breaker, I know the range of emotions we Glassers experience.