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Mistaking Hand Soap for Shower Gel: The World Through My Lens

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Ashoka chapter.

Edited by: Aneesha Chandra

Some people wake up in the morning squinting into the netherworld with flailing arms. If you know anyone like that, they probably wear glasses. Avoid them in the morning, unless you want a pair of unfocused, comically suspicious eyes staring you down (true story). I wear glasses too. Cue the jokes *tired sigh*. This is my favorite (read: least favorite) one: every school year, without fail, I’ve had people ask me, “Hey, can I try on your glasses?” and pick them right off my face before I can say no. They try them on, widen their eyes, and inevitably say, “O-M-G, I can’t see a thing with these. You must be really blind!” Why, yes, Nancy Drew — insert slow clap — I must say you figured that out awfully fast.

People seem to find wearing glasses hilarious. Usually, I’m all for it. The memes and jokes about foggy glasses, relentless cleaning to get rid of that evasive speck of dust, rain-speckled lenses, and reflections of computer screens on unsuspecting glasses are wildly relatable. That last one is pure entertainment though, especially when you’re in an online class and everyone can see a particularly hilarious episode of Running Man reflected on your glasses (tip: avoid the infallible consequences of this mishap by lowering your screen brightness!).

Sometimes, the jokes go too far. I’ve had friends mock my glasses, all in the name of harmless fun. Even the teachers get in on the joke at times. Once, when I was in the third grade, I had a teacher ask me to go borrow a pair of scissors from the art room. I went to the art room, found my art teacher hard at work behind a desk of countless loose papers and stationery, and gingerly asked him for a pair of scissors. He gestured vaguely at the mess and I tried to find them in vain. He gave me an annoyed look I didn’t really care for and while digging out a pair of scissors from deep below a pile of loosely stacked papers, told me, “It’s right here! You’ve got four eyes and you still can’t find them?” Sir, it’s almost like the purpose of my glasses is to salvage whatever vision I still have remaining in my barely functioning pair of eyes. Sadly, eight-year-old me was unable to hit him with that zinger and left the room on the verge of tears. 

Jokes and mockery aside, being someone who wears glasses has introduced me to a range of trust issues. A few weeks ago, I was taking a shower (without my glasses) and saw my most-prized shower gel, the one I kept hidden behind old shampoo bottles, lying above the sink a few feet away. Exasperated, I concluded that it could only have been someone in the house who found immense joy in annoying me to my wit’s end — most likely a sibling. I came up with multiple scenarios in my head on the best way to confront whoever it was that had dared to use it, without looking like a five-year-old throwing a tantrum (you don’t understand; that shower gel hits all the right notes!). After the steam had cleared and I was wearing my glasses again, I found myself tearing up with barely-restrained laughter. My shower gel, a black bottle with magenta stripes, was actually an orange-brown bottle of hand soap. The embarrassment I felt then gets to me every time. I can’t stop laughing even as I write this.

It’s amusing how easy it would be to rob me when I’m not wearing my glasses. I’d probably mistake a thief for a chair and a knife for an odd silver-colored banana. I may be exaggerating a little for comedic effect but it’s still hilarious to imagine. But it’s not just about mistaking something for something else and accidentally starting bewildered arguments or creating embarrassing situations. When I lose my glasses — which happens rarely because they have to be on my face at all times for me to see anything — every surface and every person falls under squinting scrutiny. Nothing and nobody can be trusted: are you a plate or a painting? Are you a dangerous screw sticking out of the shelf or a spoon? These flimsy things barely bigger than my palm couldn’t have gotten very far but they sure do manage to take an hour to find. Trust issues around glasses also mean that I have a backup pair of glasses. They’re pretty useless because I forget where I keep them and they’re from ages ago when my eye power was 50% better than it is currently. But it still feels good to know they’re there. 

Wearing glasses also relates to my intense anxiety around trust falls. You can’t do a trust fall wearing your glasses because that’s just a disaster waiting to happen. So, you give your glasses to someone you trust for safekeeping or keep them somewhere else and pray that they don’t get broken somehow. I gave mine to my sibling when I did my first and last trust fall. I had to climb a table and fall backward into the arms of six strangers. Without my glasses on, all those expectant arms looked terribly like brown splotches (a forewarning of my imminent future, you could say). They said it would be a great experience and it sure was. It was exhilarating once the initial panic had worn off. But I still remember that sudden, intense fear when I couldn’t see anything. There were about fifty people in that room and I couldn’t make out a single face. Part of me was aware that these were people I knew, but in that moment, they all felt distant, like strangers. It’s kind of like sitting in a room full of people, none of whom speak the same language as you, and you need directions to the bathroom real quick. It’s a moment of panic paired with an odd feeling of alienation. 

None of this can ever compare to that moment of betrayal when I realized I, along with other people who wear glasses, pay to see while the rest of the world wakes up and sees whatever they want without help. I pay to see. All that money I spent on new frames, new lenses, and optometrists’ appointments could afford me a shelf of five hundred books. Well, at least wearing glasses makes me smarter than the average individual and likelier to get a job.

That’s bound to be a victory, right?

Rhea Thomson

Ashoka '21

That one person who just made the cut. Also an aspiring psychologist.