I was a senior in high school when I realized I needed glasses.
I thought I could see clearly, even passing the DMV eye test without having to check the dreaded “corrective lenses” box on the application. But once I began driving regularly, I noticed the words on the exit and entrance ramp signs were much easier to read if I squinted as I approached.
Soon, I was squinting more and more to clearly see things in the distance. Television was much sharper the closer I got to the screen, so were movies. I finally relented and stopped at Cohen Vision Center in the Sunrise Mall, where they confirmed I was nearsighted.
I was a little apprehensive when picking up the glasses, needing them only to focus on distances. I had them fitted to my head and put them back in the case as I walked out into the mall. There was no way I was walking into work at The Gap with glasses on. But curiosity got to me, so I put them on for a spin to see if there was any difference.
My goodness, what a difference.
The colors looked brighter and the store signs were so much sharper. I went outside and immediately noticed the leaves on the trees. Without glasses, the trees were still visible along with their leaves. But with them, I could see the branches clearly and even the stems on the leaves.
I never drove a car again without those glasses.
Initially, I only used them for driving. Still, I found they came in very handy at ballgames and especially at the movies. As the years progressed, I wore them more frequently, like when watching TV. Soon, I was only removing them to read or when around the house. When renewing my driver’s license, I used them to read the eye chart, making that “corrective lenses” checkbox a part of my permanent record.
Sometime after I passed the 50 mark, I noticed reading newspapers and books was becoming more difficult. Then, both my wife and I were having trouble reading tiny letters on medications or food ingredients.
Not reading glasses. Only old people need reading glasses.
At first, people tried to convince me to get bifocals. “Oh, you get used to it easily,” they assured me. The top half of the glass would be for distance and the bottom half would be for reading. My 88-year-old mother has used bifocals for more than 25 years.
I lasted just 10 minutes.
I kept moving my head while I was driving, causing everything to go out of focus. Maybe I’m the type of guy that nods his head when listening to the radio. How do you listen to rock and roll and not move your head? No matter the reason, I bailed on the bifocals and got two separate pairs of glasses.
Reading glasses only work when you are reading. Once you pick your head up from the crossword puzzle, the rest of the world goes out of focus.
I just picked up a new pair of reading glasses this week from Davis Vision in Massapequa. I purposely chose a set of frames that was distinctly different from my distance glasses. Unfortunately, these reading glasses were nothing like the ones I remembered picking out. Instead of silver frames, these were black. I looked like Clark Kent. My wife is still laughing.
Is this what I’ve become, a TV character from the 1950s?
But you know what? The more I wear them, the more I like them. It’s an entirely different look for me. I’m a reporter, just like Clark was. I like picking my head up and removing them with only one hand. Maybe I’ll even put one of the stems in my mouth and chew on it.
Now, if I could just convince my wife to stop laughing…
Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a Press Club of Long Island award-winning columnist (2018, 2020) and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.