Mar 24, 2021

Some Comments on the Spectacle of Cheap Eyeglasses

Atoms and antagonists abound!

By Ed Goldman

I used to compliment people on their eyeglasses. It was a throwback to my childhood when some kids were forced to wear them and, for the most part, weren’t happy about it. It was an easy way for me to make someone feel less self-conscious, no doubt in the hope they would then grow up to be wealthy, remember my kindness and send me a lovely gift, like a Jaguar XKE with wire wheels or a vacation home in Baraboo, Wisconsin (the fabled “Circus City,” owing to its being the home of the actual Ringling Brothers. No idea where Barnum and Bailey hailed from and I really don’t care). 

When I got my first pair of glasses, in the seventh grade, I received no such graciousness from my peers—possibly because I never wore them except at home and then only to watch cartoons, the watching of which had become, overnight, a religious experience. This is because my vision had become so bad that I could never discern the outline of the drawings. It bugged me because at the time, I envisioned I’d grow up to become a cartoonist, albeit the first semi-blind one. But now that I could see the drawings with crystalline clarity, nothing could stop me from growing up to be a celebrated cartoonist, except a notable lack of drawing ability.

Edgy Cartoon


The only drawback about my new super-vision was that I could no longer see atoms. My late brother Stuart, who was to  become a successful engineer and entrepreneur, had once told me what atoms were and how they were everywhere. Because of my yet-to-be-treated myopia, I always saw dots in the distance. I suppose I might have used that condition to become a pointillist like Georges Seurat—whose great painting, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” became the basis of a Stephen Sondheim musical—but, as we learned two paragraphs back, I had a notable lack of drawing ability. 

When I finally braved the foreseen brickbats and catcalls and actually put on my glasses at school—to watch a slide show on sexual intercourse taught by my gym teacher, Mr. Gillies, which seemed to focus less on men and women than flora and feisty vines—no one uttered a word about it. At first, I credited the slide show with distracting everyone from commenting on my situation (I think I secretly wished to be called “Four Eyes”). But later that afternoon, I chanced to put them on in geography class and turned to my then-crush, Carla, and asked her, “How do I look with glasses?” Carla, who didn’t share the enthusiasm for me that I had for her, then said three memorable things: 

(1) “I thought you always wore them.” 

(2) “You know, you look more like a Humphrey than an Ed.”

(3) “In fact, I think when you go to college, you should actually change your name to Humphrey.”

This incident made me realize at an early age, and long before I could get self-conscious while working out in a gym, that almost no one pays that much attention to everyone else.

I always did, however—and I continued to tell people I liked their glasses. 

Then we all switched to being far-sighted, either because of the aging process or, in my case, cataract surgery. People don’t wear prescription glasses as much anymore, at least in my ever-diminishing circle of friends (which I’d like to also blame on the aging process but I think a lot of them just wised up). These days, you can buy a half-dozen pair of “cheaters” at Rite-Aid for less than what it would set you back for a visit to an optometrist, ophthalmologist or under-indictment shaman. 

And while I still get thanked for my compliments, what the recipients really want to tell me is where they bought their decidedly non-designer specs, what it cost and what they saved. They’ve become unpaid shills for the manufacturers—as are all of us who wear apparel with the designer’s name, logo or both on display.

Here’s the biggest disappointment I’ve yet to come to terms with after all these year of wearing glasses. In my youth, a commonly used dodge to avoid getting into a fight was to say, “You can’t hit me, I have glasses on.” I tried this once on a schoolyard bully named Greg, whose response, “Sure I can,” was the last thing I heard before falling backward over a low hedge, propelled by Greg’s formidable fist. 

I was in pain but mainly embarrassed. Enough to consider changing my name to Humphrey.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).

Yes, Virginia

A Weekly Blog by Virginia Varela

President and CEO, Golden Pacific Bank

photo by Phoebe Verkouw

As I mentioned in my prior blog—and in letters to all of Golden Pacific Bank’s cherished customers, shareholders and friends—we’ve just entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Social Finance, Inc., (SoFi), a California-based digital personal finance company headquartered in San Francisco. This new partnership will enhance our ability to better serve you and offer the Sacramento community more products, more services, and above all, more convenience.

This acquisition is a result of SoFi’s goal of becoming a national bank in order to help more people get their money planning right with enhanced value and more products and services. They believe we are the right partner to both accelerate this pursuit and help expand their offerings to serve local communities.

I want to reassure you that our current staff and branches in Sacramento, Yuba City, and Live Oak will remain active and open to serve you, small businesses, and the important economic development projects we’ve supported.

Time after time, I’ve said that a community bank understands small businesses because a community bank IS a small business: we help entrepreneurs grow, we embrace diversity and encourage women to pursue their business ideas. I want to underscore to you that SoFi shares this same vision. And our partnership with SoFi’s CEO Anthony Noto and his amazing team will only help us provide you the best customer experience in banking.

sponsored content