Posted by: GeekHiker | May 1, 2007

Yeah, you can call me four-eyes

The GeekHiker wears glasses.  I mean, really, could I assume the title of “geek” without them?

Today, someone noticed for the first time the new pair of specs that I’d bought a couple of months ago.  This means that either a) the rimless glasses are really doing the trick or b) my co-workers actually notice that little about me on a day-to-day basis.

Most likely the latter.

But it did set me to thinking about these things that I wear every day, which is odd because, quite frankly, I don’t think about them a whole lot.  Even though I wear them, well, daily.  Right on my face right now, in fact.

I got my first pair of glasses in the 4th grade: big brown rimed suckers.  You know those giant horrific sunglasses that are all the rage these days?  Envision those with clear glass sitting on the face of a bright-blond-haired fourth-grader and you have the right idea.

Of course, after I got them, the guy next to me who always bullied me instantly went to town on them.  After all, overnight I had become a nerd.  Not that he beat me up or anything, but there’s nothing quite like the daily verbal beat-down one fourth grader can give to another, is there?

As I grew over the years, the lenses got smaller, the frames got better, but kids glasses, at least at the time, always seemed to be designed to emphasize “maximum dork factor”.  It’s the great conspiracy to separate the geeks out of the population, I suppose.

By the time I got to jr. high school and was feeling ever-so-vain (as jr. high schoolers do), I chucked the glasses in favor of contacts.  I never really enjoyed wearing contacts, mind you, but I was going to be dammed if I wasn’t going to fight the geek/nerd thing as best I could.

So who did I end up socializing with in high school?  You guessed it: geeks.

Not the nerds, mind you, I wasn’t good enough with math to hang with them, but with the geeks (who, like me, were better at English anyway) I was okay.  Hell, I was the cool guy amongst my group of geeks, if you can imagine such a position.

It’s debatable whether or not being the coolest geek amongst a group of geeks is a good thing.  But there it is.

Once I left high school and headed to college, I dumped the contacts and went back to glasses.  I was in college, I was in San Francisco, so I figured “who cares?”

Of course, people still did care, or at least notice.  Like anything else, such as how you dress or your personal hygiene, it all plays into how people see you, their first impression.  And when it came to dating in college, that first impression was, shall we say, not so hot.

Interesting note: my lenses, being near-sighted, have the net effect of making my eyes smaller.  I actually had a girl in college tell me she didn’t want to go out with me because she “couldn’t see my eyes”.  I wanted to give the snappy comeback “well, you do know that they can come off, right?”, but of course I didn’t think of the comeback until 10 minutes later.  After she’d already walked away.  I hate when that happens.

So, over the last 20 years, my glasses have evolved from giant ugly ones, to smaller half-rims to, now, small no rims at all spectacles.

In the end though, if you wear glasses, you wear glasses, and there’s no hiding it.

Wearing glasses changes you.  Anybody who thinks otherwise is a blithering idiot, but you’d be surprised how many people tried to convince me growing up that wearing glasses makes no difference in your life.  It does, of course, because it changes how others perceive you, and if others perceive you in a certain way, it’s not long before you start perceiving yourself in a different way.

This is especially true when you’re younger.  It’s like peer pressure, only instead of being pressured to do something or behave in some way, you’re being pressured to think of yourself differently.

Sometimes I’ve even pondered how my life might, or might not, have been different had I not needed vision correction at such a young age.

Certainly, there’s the obvious social stigma associated with glasses and, coming of age in the 80’s, that stigma was “Revenge of the Nerds”.  In those days, anybody who needed vision correction was either old or a nerd, simple as that.  To some degree, I’m certain that’s still true.  As we all know, anybody who is wearing glasses is pretty much assumed to be more intelligent, and certainly more socially awkward, whether that’s the truth of the matter or not.

It is still, most definitely, not at all cool.  Want proof?  How many (modern) presidential nominees do you see who wear glasses all the time (i.e. not just for reading)?  Go ahead, think about it.  I’ll wait.

Of course you couldn’t come up with any.  Middle America doesn’t really want a nerd in the White House, they want somebody that’s cool, or at least somebody that they feel comfortable with, and certainly not someone too bookish.  After all, the good Mr. Gore is something of a geeky bookworm, and he doesn’t even wear glasses, and look how far he got.  And so you get our current leader.

And no, there’s no way I’m going down that road in this post, or in this blog, for that matter.

But would I have been more confident?  Would my life have been different had I not gotten glasses and their inherent baggage and been immediately made fun of by that asshole in the 4th grade?

Would I have been as shy?

Would my dating life have been better?  Or was every girl thinking what that girl I mentioned earlier did, that they couldn’t see my eyes and therefore didn’t deserve the time of day?  Or did it not make any difference at all, and I only thought (or hoped) it did?

Like most things in life, the answer probably lies somewhere between the two extremes.

It’s a strange thing, when you think about it, to look at the world through glasses.  There’s always something not quite natural about it.  In order to see the world and everything in it, including pets, family, friends, loved ones, you always need to be looking through this artificial device.  It’s as though, in a subtle way, you’re always looking at the world through a window.

I don’t know that it makes you disconnected from the world, but with some people, I suspect they feel more disconnected from you.  We’re humans, and as such we communicate so much of our thoughts and feelings through our eyes that glasses can only, really, serve as an impediment to that.

To further my point, that explains why one of the sexiest things in the world is to have someone take off your glasses for you.  It’s like they’re lowering that little separator between you and everybody else, because they want to see the real you, to look directly into your eyes, to look directly at you.

It’s an act those with perfect vision can’t possibly relate to, because glasses aren’t just a piece of clothing or jewelry, they’re so much more critical than that.  And the feeling when someone does that minor act for you can’t be measured.  I was recently reminded of this, and trust me, that minor gesture can be profoundly emotional.

Which, I suppose, is all the more reason not to risk my eyes on that damn Lazik surgery.


  1. you’re dead on! i don’t have to wear my glasses all the time, but i tend to put them on when i want to hide behind them, thus buying into your theory that wearing glasses changes people. don’t laugh, but i actually feel smarter and more confident, more let’s-get-down-to-business when i’m wearing my glasses. although i suppose you could just call all of that “geek” and save yourself the trouble 🙂

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