So it’s 2 am and I’m not sleeping so I wanted to share something that has been going through my head since my younger son got his contact lenses last week, a little story I told him, which I now tell you.
I was in college, in a between relationships epoch; I’d finally broken up with my on-again, off-again, high-school girlfriend, Ellen, or she’d broken up with me, or her boyfriend had vowed to kill us all if we got back together, or something. (OK, it was the boyfriend killing us.)
I remember thinking, “Well, we can’t let that stop us, right?” (her breaking up with him, and going out with me, again.)
Her response. “I’ve seen his gun. Yeah. We’re not happening.”
So, this story isn’t about that, but funny, yeah?
No, this story is about a time afterwards, as I meandered my way towards the completion of my seven year BFA degree in Selected Studies, when I was, in the parlance of the day, high and dry. I know, ick. But we said such things, and my friend Ed Reynolds told me about a girl who worked the reception desk at the hotel he was a security guard for, and how he thought I should meet her.
I was interested. I guess that goes without saying. But, I said, I need to get some contact lenses. I’d stopped wearing them, after five years or so, for various reasons (My eyes didn’t’ like them) but I knew I could wear them for a few hours at a time, and I wanted to make a good impression. You see, I had two personalities, back in high-school, pre and post contact lenses, and the post lens personality got the girlfriend.
We have to talk about my eyes for this story to make sense. I have bad eyes. Very thick glasses. My childhood was replete with bigger guys grabbing my glasses off my face, putting them on and saying things like, “HOLY SHIT YOU MUST BE FUCKING BLIND.” Before the invention of high-index plastics, the lenses of my glasses resembled the bottom of coke bottles.
Hence, my middle school nickname, coke bottles. Thanks Ricky Ferraro. May you burn in hell. Oh and the optics gave me beady eyes.
My friend Ed looked at me in shocked disbelief. “Dude,” he would have said, if we said dude, but let’s go with that, “I can’t believe this. We’re adults. You think I’m going to hook you up with someone so shallow as to rejected you instantly, out of hand, because you wear glasses?” He smiled and laughed and I agreed. Yeah. I’m a self conscious dick.
We figured out a scheme, to save myself any possible embarrassment, where I would come by the desk and ask to see him, and I could see the girl, and she could see me, and then he could ask her, well, would she go out with me? Yeah, we were grown ups.
What does it say about me that I am telling this story with no clear memory of what she looked like? I see a pretty girl with long blonde hair in my mind. That may be Marsha Brady, now that I think about it. Was she skinny? I don’t know. All I know is, I was interested enough to ask Ed, afterwards, “so, Dude,” if we said that, “what did she say?”
Ed cracked up. Couldn’t make eye contact. “Oh. No. It’s not important, but no, she doesn’t want to go out with you.” He laughed some more.
“Tell me what she said, Ed. Exactly.”
“Maybe if he lost the glasses…”
What can I say? It hurts to be right? That we know how others see us, really, deep down in our guts? What does this have to do with writing, you ask? Maybe it’s that we know our weaknesses. And as much as we would love to think that people will just overlook them–they don’t. Ever. So if you know there is something bad, about your prose, fix it. You’re not fooling anyone.
Marsha Brady will not be amused.