One recent 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, even better, there are several non-verbal messages that can be communicated in the manner of their removal.
Off the top of my head, which is not where I keep my glasses, there is “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 (Honestly) Get to the Heart of Things.” There are some others. Putting them on in front of people usually communicates this: “Enough Fun, Everyone. It’s Time to Get Back to Work.”
It can be like semaphore, but not at all and with glasses.
What I performed on the morning that I am telling you about 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 precisely that action. 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 almost always adds zest 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—an improvised attempt at “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 simply 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 in 2014, 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 (see photo at top; some are three for five dollars). 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? Hmmmm. 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. It is as if they have teamed up and are taking turns abandoning me. I need to re-organize the role of organization in my life.
So there it was that morning: Forgettingness in all its vanity-defeating ingloriousness. In all its lapses and gaps. It is exhausting being me. I need a nap. Now, where is my pillow?
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This first appeared in 2014 and then last summer. This is a re-write. (New jokes.) The photo is from today.
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