Day 71: Eyesore

At some point when I was walking the younger home from preschool last Thursday, I lost my glasses. Because I live in L.A., whenever I go outside I wear sunglasses. [1] And because I don my sunglasses as soon as I walk outside I therefore put my regular prescription glasses (if I’m wearing them, which I am if I’m doing any significant amount of work involving looking at a screen that day) in my jeans pocket. Why, yes, that’s right, the pocket of my grey jeans! You’ve been playing attention! I know that one’s jeans pocket is not the best place to put one’s glasses, but, nonetheless, that is where I put them, and there was never any problem with this system until last Thursday.

I was very upset to lose this pair of glasses. In the first place, they were a very nice pair of glasses. [2] In the second place, I didn’t have a back up pair and I strongly dislike having to wear contacts all the time. For me, wearing contacts falls into exactly the same category as wearing lipstick. It’s simply my way of saying, “Look, I’m trying; I’ve put a modicum of effort into attempting to make myself look marginally more attractive so that you have something more pleasing to look at.” [3]

I quite often wear contact lenses, but I never wear them all day. In fact, I don’t understand how you people who wear contacts all day are able to do so. People often express incredulity at the fact that some women (not me) wear high heels all day every day, but I actually find it much more amazing that some people wear contacts all day every day; they’re like high heels but on your eyeballs. Yikes. [4]

Anyway, I digress. I lost my glasses, and I didn’t have a spare pair so I wore my contacts all day the next day. And then on Saturday morning I woke up and I couldn’t open one eye. It was both painful and hideous. My left eye was glued together with gunge, the eyelid pink and swollen. [5]

The losing of the glasses already seemed painfully symbolic: you know, distorted vision; losing my way; myopia, that sort of thing. But it seemed even more obvious on Saturday morning that some kind of divine retribution was being enacted upon me in much the same way that Madame Merteuil, the villainess in Choderlos de Laclos’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1782) is hideously disfigured by smallpox at the end of the novel. As Madame de Volanges describes Merteuil’s fate, “I was surely correct when I said that it would be a blessing for her to die of smallpox. It is true that she has recovered but she is terribly disfigured; in particular, she has lost one eye. As you may imagine, I haven’t seen her again but I have been told that she is absolutely hideous.” The significance of Merteuil’s disfigurement is plain; as another character observes, “now her soul is showing in her face.”

The suspicion that some kind of likewise sadistic punishment was being visited upon me was increased by the fact that later that Saturday I was due to attend a swank 1920s-themed costume party in Bel Air. I have never in my life been to a fancy party in Bel Air, and I was only going to this one because I had rashly assured Marissa that of course I could pass muster as a glamorous flapper who would perfectly complement her dapper, hair-slicked-back, besuited look for the evening. While my swollen, weeping eye did not, obviously, impact my ability to fit into my dress, it did, it must be said, rather detract from the dress’s charms. I seriously considered an eye-patch, which I thought might add a rakish twist to the whole ensemble. But in the end I went bare-faced and decided that my inability to make eye contact with anyone was just part of my persona.

I’ve already decided what my strategy will be next time I have a disfigured eye and I’m invited to a 1920s themed party. There are two options.


Joan crawford

Or: I’ll go as the one-eyed merchant and my date will be Madame Sosostris.


[1] Regardless of the time of day or whether the sun is actually out, obvs.

[2] Yes, Natalie, they were the pair that you helped me choose! I know!

[3] Yes, that’s right, I maintain that everyone looks more attractive without glasses. Yes, even people like you, who look awesome in your glasses, look even more awesome without your glasses. This is just a fact. Don’t argue with me, just take it as a compliment; I’m saying that you look better without a metal and plastic frame obstructing your face and distorting the size of your eyes. If anyone ever tells you that you look “better” in glasses, that person is grossly insulting you.

[4] No, I don’t have some kind of weird British NHS scratchy wool-lined contact lenses. I have nice breathable silicone disposable lenses. They are very comfortable until they’re not. There’s no way I’d wear them all day by choice.

[5] Have I mentioned that I’m single now? If I ever do online dating I’m going to use that line in my profile: “Left eye glued together with gunge, eyelid pink and swollen. Great personality, though!”


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