April 19, 2005
| Ah, progress. About a thousand
years ago, monks started to use
polished stones as reading aids,
and before too long in Italy, the
first dual lenses in frames appeared.
Everyone had to wait until the mid-1400s
for lenses correcting nearsightedness,
and even longer for German physiologist
Adolf Fick to give us the first
glass contact lens in 1887.
But by the
year 2005, a funny thing had happened.
Partially blind women everywhere
woke up and realized they were not
allowed to leave home without their
contacts. Was this really progress?
Or further subjugation to the patriarchy?
The feminists have been curiously
silent on this matter.
you show up to dates like that?"
"Like what?" I asked.
"With your glasses."
Right, my glasses. "Um—mm—
no. Of course not! I make sure
I am completely put together,
contacts and all."
I've been wearing
contacts for four hours now. Had
to get 'em in an hour before so
the teariness and redness in my
eyes won't destroy my look. Oh,
how I'd like to get them out and
just wear my glasses. Ah, yes, my
glasses. Non-invasive, so innocent
and good, just trying to help me
see better, that's all. Always accepting.
I feel so myself in them, quite
sheltered and real. Also mysterious,
yet honest! Honest about my near-sightedness,
rejoicing at the notion of imperfection.
No deception, no pretense. Simple,
plain and grateful that I can see
from afar. What on earth did people
do before lenses were crafted? I
cannot even imagine the feeling
of fear and vulnerability experienced
by citizens of pre-14th century
Europe. Maybe this is how chivalry
developed, because the women couldn't
see in front of them and had to
be led around everywhere.
I'd like to get together again .
Great! I like you too. From the
first moment I saw you. You're my
type. Not too tall, my favorite
color eyes. Glasses. Wow, you're
so lucky you are allowed to wear
please excuse me for a moment?"
OK, Gila. It's
your fifth date. You know your eyes
are killing you from wearing these
contacts for so many hours on real
long nice dates. How much longer
can I last in the hot Jerusalem
sun? I'd better get this over with
sooner rather than later. He'll
probably call it off when he sees
what I really look like
feel so guilty! I've deceived this
nice man for two weeks now.
Monday at seven.
"Sure! Looking forward. . .."
You're sure in for a surprise. .
.the show is over now. As I've been
warned numerous times by many helpful
"advisors," this will
be the end of our relationship.
"Hi . . . you look nice in
your blue headband."
headband? Why is he not saying
anything? He is probably too shocked
to mention it. I'll have to do this
. . so what do you think about my
glasses? I really didn't noti—uh,
fine. Your glasses look fine. I
was worried, though, about your
bloodshot eyes for the last few
days—are you alright now?"
My face relaxes.
I can once again study the world
at a safe distance, from behind
my glasses. They make me feel regal,
protected and accepted; feminine
And as for
my husband? He still has no idea
if I'm wearing glasses or not.
Gila Kaplan is a nurse at Shaarei
Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem and
the mother of a baby girl who, so
far, does not need glasses.