In A New Light

So, I have my new reading glasses.

They are quite nice though the thicker arms, which I can catch out the corner of my eye, make me think I’ve left the price tag on. I went to the opticians on Friday afternoon to pick them up, and whether it was the effect of being able to see more clearly or not, I noticed that all the assistants seem to be getting younger and younger. I was assisted by a charming young man of about twelve, who put the glasses on me and said ‘They look lovely!’ So I liked him instantly.

Then he gave me the card with all the tiny fonts on it and asked if I could read one in about the middle of the page.

Yes, I could.

And could I read the sentence two lines down?

Yes, surprisingly enough, I could.

And what about the smallest line at the very bottom?

YES, I COULD!!! And then I said to him, ‘At my age, young man, this is what constitutes real excitement.’

In the subsequent excitement, I managed to snap the flesh of my little finger between the particularly ferocious jaws of my new glasses case, so I kind of tuned out of the next things he said, though I kept smiling brightly. If he told me these glasses self-destruct in the rain, or something, I’m in trouble. But then we were pretty much done. As I was leaving, I swear to you these were the exact words he said: ‘If you need the screws tightened, or you’d like them cleaned, or if you just fancy a chat, do come in and see us. Use us and abuse us, that’s what we’re here for.’ I thought this was very funny, but I also thought it fair to warn him he should be more careful what he offered me. I might pop in and get them to read me a chapter of a book, for instance. It could happen.

So now I own reading glasses and a whole world of gesture has opened up before me. Now I understand why people go around with glasses on top of their heads. And why you find glasses sitting upside down on all manner of coffee tables and desks. And why people peer at you over the top of the frames. It’s because you can ONLY look at small type with them, and everything else is lost in a misty blur. Okay! I get it! I really did need reading glasses, it turned out, because now I recognise how out of focus most close-range type was. Have they helped with my sensitive eyes? Hmmm, well, not yet, but I hope over time they will. In the meantime, my eyes remain stupidly over-reactive to either concentration or light, becoming more bloodshot in the space of twenty minutes or so (at which point I don’t like to push it and usually give up – and they calm down again). I don’t suppose anybody else out there has had an issue like this? I doubt it. I regularly defy medical science and chronic fatigue is the weird and innovative gift that keeps on giving. But it’s getting easier to see the telly, that’s certainly less trouble than it was, and some days the computer is a bit easier too.

Talking of people who may need to alter their glasses, I found Mr Litlove peering at the spine of a review book I’d recently received, trying to read the title. The title was actually Superabundance, though I admit it wasn’t easy to make out. ‘What’s it called?’ Mr Litlove asked. ‘Super-bunny-dance?’ Once I had finally finished laughing, I put him right. But imagine my surprise when, a few days later, another book arrived, this one a collection of essays by Annie Dillard called The Abundance. ‘Oh look,’ said Mr Litlove, standing at my shoulder. ‘More bunnies dancing.’  I am intrigued to see what will arrive next. Will other animals be allowed to join the party? I will let you know!



17 thoughts on “In A New Light

  1. Nowadays, like to think of reading glasses as a sign of being a proper grown up. I finally admitted that I could no longer hold back the tide while on book tour, when I noted that I was holding my book not just at arm’s length, but with my arm stretched as far from me as was humanly possible, and I realised that my only options were either reading glasses or a longer arm.

  2. Another of your texts which made me giggle. I enjoyed it so much, especially the part about the charming man of about twelve. The last time I had to get new glasses the heating in the shop broke down, it was freezing, and then the computer broke down so they asked me to come again. And nobody told me the glasses looked lovely. Hope the stress on your eyes will get less.

  3. Hopefully these glasses will work into your normal life and become more comfortable and useful. The only trouble I have with mine is that I keep leaving them in another room or forgetting where they might be, which is a pain when I can’t read who is on the phone before I pick up – so I end up with telesales or some such nuisance. In other news I am most of the way through digging out the foundation trench for our new extension, so reading has slowed owing to exhaustion, but I am making progress with Austerlitz by W G Sebald, which I think is benefiting from a leisurely reading pace. Best wishes!

  4. I’m now the proud owner of a pair of ‘interview’ glasses which enable me to read and use the computer while wearing my contact lenses. Life seems to get ever more complicated as ageing kicks in. I hope your visions settles down and behaves it self soon.

  5. I am so desperately near-sighted that the corrective action of my contact lenses now makes up-close reading impossible, and I have 1.25x reading glasses literally everywhere in my house, in my car, in coat pockets. I must have bought fifteen pairs of them (at approximately $3 per pair, so this was hardly extravagant), as I never, ever want to have to look for them when I need them. I am immensely grateful for the advent of the e-reader with adjustable font size—without it, I would probably have been obliged to give up reading for pleasure.

  6. I was always so proud of my good sight, until I realised I was really struggling to read (I’m longsighted). Now my glasses are *always* on top of my head and I go into a panic if I think I’ve lost them. The concept of breaking them is a nightmate – note to self: get some spare pairs! So glad yours are making a difference – with all this reading we do, clear sight is essential! 🙂

  7. Oh happiness, and laughter … and better sight. I’m so glad. And about that feeling you’ve left the price tag on the glasses, here is one of my favourite (the only one I know, actually) pieces in literature about just such a thing:
    ‘But, she thought, the captain had really surpassed himself when he turned up … with a squeak of brakes, a roaring and revving of pistons, and a cloud of aromatic blue smoke. … He clambered carefully off the motorcycle … Pelagia shook her head … She looked into the old man’s face, and fought to suppress a smile. He was wearing a ridiculous crash-helmet with a little peak, and a pair of reflective sunglasses that were so new that he had forgotten to remove the label, which dangled down upon one cheek like a small autumnal leaf caught on a filament of cobweb. … She saw her own reproving face reflected stereoscopically in the lenses of the sunglasses … She squinted a little for better focus and realised that he was wearing the red velvet waistcoat embroidered with flowers, eagles, and fish that she had given him fifty years before. … It took an eternity of time to persuade her [but] as they veered perilously along the stony roads she clung to his waist … she clutched him even more desperately than in the old days, so he inserted some deliberate swerves into the series of those which were already alarmingly accidental.’

  8. I have reading glasses scattered everywhere. I now use 1.5x magnification, which isn’t bad for my age, but still I am pretty useless without them – unless I step waaaay back. It’s amazing how short one’s arms get as one ages.

  9. Yay! So glad the reading glasses have arrived and that they work well! It is disconcerting, isn’t it, how many children seem to be turning up in the workforce these days. I swear the cashier at the grocery store the other day was only fourteen. Eventually you will have glasses that reside at key locations. I keep a pair at work, a pair next to the bed and a pair next to my reading chair. I will be very interested to see if any other critter join the dancing bunnies. Maybe some chicks? Easter isn’t that far off.

  10. Spectacles are both a blessing and a curse. Without them I wouldn’t be able to read but I’m constantly having to take them on and off for distance vision. I was always losing them or they were downstairs when I was up etc. So i went out and bought lots of cheap pairs and have them almost everywhere….

  11. You’re not gonna believe me, but my stress level increasing decreases my close up vision. Couldn’t read the last two weeks, but treated myself to a de-stressing today, and here I am reading just fine on an iPhone4. Do I need reading glasses? Likely yes: I am 45 after all and poor lighting is an issue. But if I can avoid the billion dollars I’ll have to spend on them, for just a little longer, yoga and tranquil time it is!

    Also had a convo w/some chronic pain sufferers. We got onto the idea that maybe it isn’t a condition in itself but a symptom or rather side effect of trauma like say, PTSD. Or maybe it’s a side effect of PTSD? Would that change the way we look at treatment? Would that lift the life sentence people think they have?

    Either way, beautiful soul, it’s no joke – treat yourself well.

  12. I love the dancing bunnies and am intrigued by the obliging young man – he can be grateful that I live in another country or I’d certainly be abusing his sweet and trusting offer on a regular basis. Sorry your eyes are still so painful though. 😦

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