This morning, I became a grown-up: I attempted to remove glasses from my face that were already in my fist.
For those of you who are lifelong glasses-wearers (it is almost 40 years for me), you know that there are several distinct methods of removing eyeglasses and several messages that can be communicated in the manner of their removal. Off the top of my head, there’s “Two-handed and Thoughtful,” “One-handed and from the Right and Peeved” (I usually accidentally fling my glasses to the floor or across my desk with that one), and “One-handed and from the Left and Trying to Get to the Heart of Things.” There are others. Putting them on in front of people usually communicates this: “Enough Fun, Everyone. Back to Work.”
It can be like semaphore, but with glasses.
What I performed this morning offered such a complete set of mixed messages that I should not have been surprised if someone threw a glass of water at me, thinking I had requested it. In some cultures, perhaps I had. It would have almost completely relieved me of my red-faced embarrassment.
I do not remember right now which message I was going for this morning, but I was in a public place, which adds to everything. What I remember is this: Both hands were heading for my face, so I must have been attempting “Two-handed and Thoughtful” or maybe simply “Pensive,” but like an indecisive ASL translator, when I saw the glasses already in my left hand as they came towards my face, I doubled-down and confused everyone (including me) by improvising this: I scratched my face with the folded-up glasses, moved them from my left hand to my right, opened them, put them on, and then removed them with my left hand—”One-handed and Getting to the Heart of Things.” All in about three spastic seconds.
It was all because I was surprised. I was surprised because I do not do slightly forgetful things like everyone else does.
I do not do slightly forgetful things like everyone else does. That’s better. I believe … (fist hits table) … ladies and gentlemen, I believe deep down where I know me better than anyone else knows me or I know anyone else, that I do not do slightly forgetful things at all ever. Atallever. Misplacing my glasses is something that rests just on this side of a terrible thing.
I had laser surgery last year, which transformed me from a wearer of Bible-thick lenses from my teen years until I had the surgery into a far-sighted person who can now wear cheap, dollar-store reading glasses merely for reading. Thus I can leave my house sometimes without glasses. After four decades of glasses-wearing, that sentence reads like someone else describing a life different from mine to me.
Back to me. I do not do slightly forgetful things. Remember? Not me. Not someone so organized that I would arrange my pens alphabetically if I could decide on what issue this would fix or how to do it. (By brand name? Hmmm. Perhaps.)
Simple, insistent, rigid organization has always prevented me from forgetting things: Keys in the same place every night. Wallet, too. Glasses on my bookshelf. Check, check, and check. And I have left the house minus each one of these items in turn recently. I need to re-organize the role of organization in my life.
So there it was this morning: Forgettingness in all its vanity-defeating ingloriousness. In all its lapses and gaps. “Mind the Gap” isn’t just a sign for British rail passengers; it should be stamped on my forehead from now on.
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This first appeared last year.
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