Friday, August 25, 2017

No Longer Taunted by My Six Eyes

Melinda Palacio

Selfie with Glasses

As a nerdy kid, the casual taunt of "four eyes" didn't bother me much. Glasses were a welcomed alternative to fuzzy vision and flinching every time a spherical object sped towards my face. I was ten years old when someone realized I needed glasses. Before my age reached double digits, I went through life seeing only what was at the end of my outstretched arm. Nearsightedness was a plus because I could read books in bed and study people's body language up close. Even though I couldn't see the chalkboard, I was a pretty good student who coasted on a good memory and an innate desire to please. I always sat at the front of the classroom and was quick to raise my hand even though I was very shy on the playground. 
            I remember the day my teacher at Middleton Elementary in Huntington Park finally figured out I couldn't see. She held a large laminated chart up with houses and trees, statistics was the lesson. My teacher at Middleton Elementary, Mrs. Schaeffer called on me to ask how many houses were in the first column. It was my last year before Junior High School and everything was odd about that day, especially the fact that the teacher had to call on me (when other students call you school girl and goody two shoes, the teacher doesn't have to work as hard) and that I had stayed quiet and didn't offer an answer. The teacher talked and pointed to her blurry chart, then pointed back at me. Everything she said sounded garbled like the teacher's voice in the Peanuts' movies. When I said I didn't know the answer, she got mad and sent me to the principal's office. She probably thought I was making fun of her. Her reaction was as surprising to me as mine was to her. It seems as if teachers often were angry when their supposed "good" students veered from expectation. It reminds me of the time I was punished for becoming emotional the first time I heard an orchestra play at school. I started sobbing when the cellist played her solo. The kids seated all around me turned to point at me and giggled while I was in tears because the music was so beautiful. My teacher sent me out of the auditorium and I missed the rest of the performance.

            Fast forward a few decades and the child is now a middle-aged woman who still wears glasses and who is still moved to tears by live music, especially the cello. This year, I must wear bifocals to adjust for print that is as close as my phone and as far away as a street sign. I have several friends who admit they need bifocals, but are afraid they will not be able to adjust to the varying magnifications. I suppose I am lucky that my brain can make the adjustments automatically and that I can also wear multifocal contact lenses. I'm just as eager to see all things near and far as I was when I received my first pair of spectacles. The best part of being a woman of a certain age who wears glasses is that instead of being called four eyes or six eyes (thank you bifocals), that I often receive compliments on my current frames. Perhaps, it helps that I chose frames that are very similar to the glasses Diana Prince wears in the new Wonder Woman movie.