I wear glasses. Always. Even with a formal gown.
It’s gotten to the point where I believe that people don’t even recognize me if I’m not wearing them. Would you recognize Buddy Holly without his glasses? You would not.
I have seven pairs of glasses, including two pairs of prescription shades and one pair of pink Ray-Ban aviators, for when I want to play TOP GUN.
Just kidding. The aviators are for the very rare occasion when I actually wear my contacts.
I cannot stand my contacts.
This is the story of why I even own contact lenses.
Five years ago, I appeared as “Christine” in a Cherry Lane Theatre production of August Strindberg’s 1888 classic of modern European naturalistic drama, MISS JULIE. Below is the actual poster from that other-than-fabulous production:
You needn’t be familiar with the play to appreciate this story. All you need to know is that there’s a point at which a canary is beheaded with a meat cleaver on a chopping block. (Yeah. This shit might just as well have been titled: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S SWEDISH NIGHTMARE.)
Christine (the proverbial third wheel of this three-character play) has an entrance immediately following the bird butchery. This happens very near the end of the exercise in misery that is this brilliant play. Like the two lead characters, Christine is rocking a very bad Midsummer’s Night. By the time she enters after the fowl filet, wearing her Sunday best, she has long since lost her pious patience.
(Christine enters, dressed for church and with a hymn-book in her hand. Miss Julie rushes over to her and throws herself into her arms, as if seeking protection.)
Miss Julie: Help me, Christine! Protect me against this man!
Christine: (Cold and unmoved.) This is a fine way to behave on a holy day! (She sees the chopping block.) Just at look at the mess you’ve made there! How do you explain that? And what’s all this shouting and screaming about?
As if losing her man to the lady of the house weren’t pain enough, poor Christine (the maid) now has to clean up random canary carnage in her own damn kitchen. She is not having it.
And now, back to my near-sightedness…
I did not have contact lenses at this time. But, obviously, I could not wear thick, plastic hipster frames whilst playing a Victorian maid. So I performed blind, as I had done all my life up to that point. Other than causing the occasional injury from walking smack into sets during blackouts, this had never been a problem.
But on one night of MISS JULIE‘s Cherry Lane run, my near-blindness proved a major problem.
On this particular night, something went wrong with the bird butchery. I’m still not sure exactly what, because I was in the wings preparing for my entrance. But, somehow, the prop canary was not on the chopping block when I burst into the scene.
Unseeing, I marched in and reacted with the requisite horror (and line) to the butchered bird…which was decidedly NOT there.
The rest of that performance is as much a mental blur as a visual one. I have no idea how the other actors handled what must have been a very bizarre moment for the audience. But I resolved, then and there, never to perform blind again.
And that, dear readers, is the ridiculous story of why I now have contact lenses.
See you next week, with a musing over the body of work I’ve published on this site thus far.
Until then, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”