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.

"Do 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.

"Thanks, 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 yours.

"Can you 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…. I feel so guilty! I've deceived this nice man for two weeks now.

Monday at seven. "Sure! Looking forward. . .."

Oh, brother! 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."

What, blue headband? Why is he not saying anything? He is probably too shocked to mention it. I'll have to do this myself, then.

"Uh, so. . . so what do you think about my glasses?"

"Your 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 beautiful.

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.

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