Robin Abrahams and the Spectacles of Immersion

The last month of 2010 decided to gift me with two reminders that I am aging: my first white eyebrow hair, and the fact that I need reading glasses to — well, read. (Fortunately, I can see well enough to pluck my eyebrows unaided. Buh-bye, Whitey! Don’t come back, and don’t bring more of your friends!)

I’ve had corrective lenses since I can remember — glasses since third grade or so, and contacts since high school.* So the concept wasn’t exactly unfamiliar to me. And you all know how I love accessories, so I was quick to snap up several sharp pairs of specs: the red rhinestone ones and the leopard frames with pink metal earpieces are my favorites.

But as much as I might enjoy officiously putting on my specs and twirling a freshly sharpened pencil in the air as I begin an editing job, or dramatically divesting myself of them before ordering at a restaurant — and I do — it’s using them for plain old reading at home that I enjoy most. It’s made reading magical again.

I mean, there the book is in front of me, and I can’t make sense of it, and then I put these glasses on, and just like that I am transported! Into 19th-century England, modern-day Westport (v. good, that one), an academy of magic, outer space, ancient Greece, anywhere! Seriously, there is something about putting on the glasses that feels like a ritualistic preparation, making me able to enter the World of the Book. I think I’m reading in an even more immersed fashion than I usually do. Swimming up from the depths of a book feels a little harder now.

What a funny Christmas gift, for someone who has no need of them. A disability that turns life magical again.

*The ConductMom, apparently, had no idea how bad my vision is. She tried on my real glasses, not my readers, when she was here on Thanksgiving and nearly fell over backwards. “My poor baby!” she cried. I sympathized with her and pointed out that while learning of a child’s handicap can indeed be devastating, the fact that in this case the child is over 40, happily married, and successful in two jobs ought to be some consolation.

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