Before we go anywhere, my wife always asks, “Do you have all your glasses?”
She uses the plural of the word because I have several pair.
In addition to my regular glasses, I own a set of prescription sunglasses, a pair for reading and another for computer work.
What I carry depends on how long we will be gone and therein lies the rub. What may sound like an innocent question, is not. It is the beginning of a long and complicated negotiation.
“I thought we were just going to town for groceries,” I say.
“We are,” she says.
“So why do you ask about my glasses?”
“Oh, I just thought it would be a nice day for a drive…”
Do you see how this works?
She knows that whenever we go anywhere for any length of time, I will bring along my reading glasses and a novel. It is how I pass my time while she shops.
“I would prefer to come straight home,” I tell her, “There are a few things I need to do today.”
“Okay,” she says, “but after we get back, there are a few things I want you to do too.”
“I’ll find my glasses,” I tell her.
So I go looking for them.
I am a firm believer that there is a place for everything and everything has its place – however my glasses and I profoundly disagree where that place is.
I say they belong on my desk. They prefer to hide behind it.
When I ask them to wait in the glove compartment in the car, they sneak into the console of the truck and burrow themselves beneath the blizzard of candy wrappers that also lives there.
I am not sure why they constantly hide. Maybe they simply enjoy having me look for them. Perhaps it is their way of reassuring themselves that they are wanted.
Unfortunately, today they need more assurance than I have time to give.
“I can’t find my reading glasses,” I tell her.
“You could talk to me instead of reading,” she says.
“Okay,” I tell her, “what do you want to talk about?”
“I don’t know,” she says.
In that sense, she has much in common with my glasses. She simply needs to be assured that I am willing to pay attention to her.
After few words and many miles of driving, we pull into a little town that we have not visited before.
“Oh look,” she says, “an antique shop!”
“Oh look,” I say, “ a bar.”
“Are you going to sit in a stinky bar all afternoon?” she asks, “you could come in with me.”
No, I can’t. The mold in antique stores drives me out the door with minutes and besides, most of the stuff on the shelves is younger than I am. That alone drives me away.
“Then find a man-bench somewhere and read,” she says.
“Remember?” I say, “I couldn’t find my reading glasses….”
She sighs the sigh of a long suffering woman.
“Did you check under your car seat?” she asks, “You put them on the dash yesterday and they always slide off.”
And there they were – and I think she knew it the entire time.