I found out that I needed glasses somewhere in elementary school. A mild prescription, nothing that would require coke bottle lenses, but corrective lenses nonetheless. A discussion ensued about glasses vs. contacts, but since I don’t particularly enjoy touching my eyes, my vote has pretty much always been team glasses.
For the uninitiated, the process to secure glasses starts with an eye exam from a licensed Optometrist. First, you usually place your forehead against a machine that an assistant directs you to so they can puff a directed amount of air into your right eye. I can’t even really tell you why this happens, other than to assume they just like seeing you jerk back, trying to maintain your dignity as you line up for the repeat process for the left eye. You are escorted to a secondary location where you sit in a dark room, following a light held by your doctor before reciting what you think might be the correct letters from the smallest font you can read projected onto a wall. Was that an “O”? An “E’? An “O”? There’s zero feedback, so you start second guessing every letter.
The doctor will have you compare corrective lenses with a large metal mask of a tool called a Phoropter. If you grew up in the 80’s/90’s and you still have yet to see an Optometrist, maybe now is time, but the Phoropter looks like a much more technically advanced version of those red plastic 3D Reel Viewfinders we grew up with. Now you won’t be able to unsee that on your next trip in and you’re welcome. You’ll be advised the benefits of dilating your pupils for additional testing, but like most of us seeing the doctor on a lunch break, you’ll probably decline and promise yourself next year you will make the time. That promise is hit or miss on actual follow through.
I remember two instances as a child where I almost could have lost an eye; the first was on one cub scouting trip where there was a rogue Live Oak branch (as indicated by the Ball Moss perched on the tree, for those aspiring Dendrologists out there) that upon some form of goofing off lacerated the skin near the corner of my right eye between my nose and eye lid. To this day, I posses a small indentation from the trip, something I am reminded of with every hard glance in the bathroom mirror.
The second of my two optical near emergencies came in Middle School when a kid was swinging around a wooden stake on a lunch break. I have a hard time remembering if the kid was swinging it at me or someone else, but I was cognizant enough to realize that it was unsafe. Instead of trying to get an adult to help, something in my mind said that I could get this sharp object out of this kid’s hand. For the record, the stake did drop out of the kid’s hand, but only after slicing about a 1.25″ long cut on my right cheek about 3/4 of an inch below my eye. It was that day that I learned what butterfly bandaging was as the school nurse did everything she could to preserve the cut until I was driven to urgent care to determine if I would require stitches or not. I lucked out and didn’t require stitches.
When it came to glasses, I probably wasn’t doing my social life any favors by wanting big and bold frames, a fashion choice that took me probably 4 years to fully embrace. The irony is that while as a teen, the statement I wanted to make with a pair of prescription @RayBan’s was the opposite of what the corrective frames were designed for. My intentions were to be edgy and memorable, the design was about function and being practical. I was hoping to be like Jay Bakker, but would have only been able to pull off Drew Carey, before “The Price is Right”.
While my teenage optical options were limited by my parent’s sensible budget and retailer availability, my adult life has been more extreme. I was able to secure a few pair of Ray Ban’s through the years, though have also had luck with Warby Parker. Maybe I have started to realize I should have my own sensible budget when it comes to optical options. Either way, I want to rock what I wear and I think there is a confidence that shines well past description when you effectively cultivate your brand.
Buddy Holly defined his personal style with thick black frames, but his brand ultimately combined a large toothy grin attached to his vocal hiccups, alternating between falsetto and his regular voice against a percussive method of playing guitar. Holly was able to stand out because of the mixture of elements and style choices he made in his performances that lived on much further after his untimely passing.
Across from the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, Texas is an actual monument featuring a statue of the artist who passed away February 3, 1959 in a plane crash referred to as “The Day The Music Died”, which also took Ritchie Valens, JP Richardson (“The Big Bopper”) and the pilot Roger Peterson. The aircraft took off with clearance from an air tower into a snow storm, crashing shortly after it’s ascension into the dark and cold night near Clear Lakes, Iowa.
Don Mclean wrote 1971’s “American Pie” and used the plane crash as a metaphor for America losing it’s innocence. As we embark on nearly sixty years since the crash, I wonder about the ways events change the perspective by which we view the world around us.
All of this to say, that as we move into the week, I am aware of how events in my life have shaped the person that I molded into. I have more insights into the person I want to become by the experiences I have walked through, and not by the frames I have worn along the way.
I hope that as I grow, I am able to always keep a clear perception of the world and where I fit in to it. Knowing how I can effect the most change, recognizing the clearest path toward achieving the world I want to be a citizen of.
This week’s track is Weezer’s “Buddy Holly”, a clear frontrunner on the radio when I was in those key formative teen years. They have a couple of new albums out or nearing release, “Teal” and “Black”, respectively. What I was drawn to as a teen in this song was the lyric “I don’t care what they say about us anyway. I don’t care about that.” Nothing could have been further from the truth for me as a teen. I wanted to rebel, but I always had an ear to what others said. Thick frames, clean cut.
But as an adult, maybe I’m finding my stride of “looking just like Buddy Holly.”