Friday, April 16, 2010

The Four-eyed Monster

Growing up, I was widely acknowledged as having one solidly viable physical asset: my eyes are the color of forget-me-nots, with dark grey rimming the irises. People often passed comment on them, in the vein of "you have such a pretty face", i.e., "What beautiful eyes she has," and its unspoken corollary, "what a shame about the rest of her." After I started gaining weight in third grade, I became convinced that my startlingly blue eyes were the only thing separating me from complete, utter hideousness.

They also didn't work very well. In sixth grade, I got hit with everything at once: I was second-tallest in the grade, my hormones kicked in and along with them came acne (and breasts), the dentist decided that it was a prime moment to slap braces on me, and I suddenly went blind as a bat-adding ugly glasses to the litany of uncoolness that was my life. I didn't have to utter a word for the world at large to know I was a nerd- one look, and you knew the whole story.

It took roughly three years of relentless teasing and a volleyball spiked directly to the face in gym class to spur my optometrist to action. As he stood there holding the mangled remains of my very expensive, brand-new glasses, he announced that I really needed contact lenses instead.

God bless Denver Wells' memory, because although he was a very mild-mannered man, he was father to two daughters and he understood. I know that he had to execute a lot of very fancy footwork to pull it off, but pull it off, he did. He walked next door to my father's clinic and had a little chat with Daddy, who on his best day is, uh, a little intimidating. Dr. Wells managed to convince him that contacts would make all sorts of things much simpler in my complicated teenage existence. The big selling point was that if properly cared for, contacts were a LOT cheaper than a new pair of glasses every time somebody decided it would be funny to hit me in the face, not to mention less dangerous than a shattered lens.

As I say, God bless the man; he passed away a few years ago. That one simple kindness helped me more than I think he ever knew. There was so much going against me then that the easing of that single burden meant the world to me. He was also one of the reasons I became a Lion (I am not a 'joiner'), because he was a lifelong Lion and supporter of Lions vision charities. We could never do what we do without the many optometrists and opthamologists who volunteer their services to us, whether they are members of a Lions Club or not.

Thanks, Dr. Wells. I still believe that contacts are one of the Wonders of the Modern World, and thank you for helping me feel a little less ugly and a lot less awkward in the shark pool that was high school.

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