Since the age of four I’ve had to wear glasses. Big, thick, Coke bottle glasses. I remember being the only kid in first grade who had to wear them. In a misguided attempt to lessen some of the alienation I felt, my parents decided to have a “make your own spectacles party” for my birthday. My mom asked the local eyeglass store if we could have the party there. The owner thought it was a weird request but didn’t see any harm so he gave it the OK. Perhaps he thought it would be good publicity, I don’t know.
The kids arrived and their parents dropped them off and we played some games, did some usual birthday party stuff and then it was time for the main event. All the kids picked out some frames and we decorated them with glitter and glue, sparkles and elbow macaroni. We made some crazy designs and everyone had a great time. We had some cake and I’m sure that my mom surveyed the scene and felt rather proud of herself. She had accomplished her goal: I was no longer the only child wearing glasses. Not only that, the kids all seemed to enjoy their new glasses and I had become somewhat admired for being a trendsetter.
The problem was that nobody had really worked out the logistics of the “make your own spectacles” theme. When the parents came to pick up their kids, they thought they looked cute in their ridiculous, Elton John-style creations… until Mr. Carlitos, the store owner, demanded that they each pay him $200 for the frames that he felt he was owed. Naturally, the parents were shocked. I think many of them believed that my mother should have covered the cost. As we snuck out the back of the store while everyone was arguing, she told me that she just assumed Mr. Carlitos would have used old, broken frames or something. To be honest, she was pretty high most of the time and though she would get really inspired about her ideas, she hadn’t really followed through or thought anything out too well.