I once had this mate who only loved his gal when she was wearing her glasses. Yeah! Or at least he was only attracted to her when she had them on — and try loving a bird you’re not attracted to! It’s funny, he really did love her though. I mean it! I saw them together a bunch of times. He was gaga about her, big-eyed, at her beck and call — except for the couple of times I saw them together when she weren’t wearing her glasses. You might not of noticed the difference to begin with, or if you weren’t really paying attention — but yeah, he was just going through the motions, when he even remembered to. He just weren’t interested, you know. Not really. More interested in the game on the box, or his phone, or the friend he had over. She noticed the difference, of course. Was very hurt by it. But she couldn’t for the life of her work out that it was the glasses that were making the difference. She thought she looked better without them. Madness, this friend of mine thought!

He confided in me towards the end, as the relationship was starting to go downhill fast. It was fine at the start, you see. They met at work. She had her glasses on all the time in the office. And yeah, she like needed them for seeing, so she had them on when they started meeting up outside of work too.

He was so shocked when he first saw her without them. They were at his parents’, actually. For a party. She’d just been in the bathroom, freshening up. A whole different person, he said. Like, who is this?! She just looked so… common, cheap even, and like… trivial and dull — his words, not mine! Whereas with them on… They were simple enough glasses, big, black-framed, quite old-fashioned maybe, but somehow they transformed her — gave her this mystique and charm, this… character. He said he pretended to have been thinking about his gran’s recent cancer diagnosis when she asked what had come over him. That first time. 

Then the problem really became a thing when they started regularly doing the deed, of course. Whether because she wanted to look better, or just because she was getting into bed, or maybe to put them out of harm’s way, she was always taking her glasses off at the start! He couldn’t exactly tell her to put them back on again, could he? He’d often just trail off then, suddenly decide he didn’t feel like it, even though he’d been all for it moments before. Or he’d just, you know… not perform. She took it to heart, didn’t she. Thought it were her fault.  Still, she had her glasses on most of the time. They moved in together — kinda needed to, in fact, because he was a temp, and so, pretty soon, they weren’t working together no more, weren’t seeing each other nearly so much in the day. It got worse then. They’d be lounging around at the weekend or whatever — she’d have her glasses off. And often they’d argue. He found his temper was so short when she didn’t have them glasses on.

He needed to tell her, you’re thinking. He couldn’t tell her! How do you tell your gal you’re only interested in her when she has her glasses on!

He tried psychological games. He told her he felt anxious when she took her glasses off, because he knew her vision weren’t great and so he felt she didn’t want to really see him at those times. Clever tactic, right? Wrong! She was so confused, and then upset when he wouldn’t believe her assurances. She insisted her vision wasn’t that bad, anyway. She said she just felt more comfortable and actually better-looking with them off, suggested she could get contacts. He almost had a fit at that! He said he didn’t trust contacts! He’d had friends who’d had them and said they just didn’t work, not reliably. Some bullshit like that. He even started guilt-tripping her when she had the glasses off, attacking her for her need to feel like she was looking great, no matter how much anxiety and self-doubt it cost him. And yeah, this stuff all of course shed light on what was happening in the bedroom, and in other situations.

And then one day she just demanded, straight-out, What the hell is it with these glasses?!! And he did tell her then. Okay, okay, maybe if he’d told her nearer the start, there would’ve been a way forward, with therapy or whatever… I dunno. But now, at this point, it had just gone too far, hadn’t it. He told her, trying to phrase it delicately. She didn’t have the glasses on at the time. If she had, it would have helped, no doubt. She’d just taken them off and put them down on the side, and she’d like stared at them, and then suddenly said that thing, “What the hell is it with these glasses?”

He told her. She listened. And then she said, “Right, that’s it, I’m leaving.” And she went to pack her things. He just stayed there, sat on the sofa, staring into thin air. He couldn’t be arsed to intervene — she seemed so trivial, in that state.

At some point, he heard the door slam shut. Now this bit’s crazy! She hadn’t come back for the glasses. He looked over at them, where she’d left them. He stayed looking at them for quite a while. And then he got up, picked them up, turned them over in his hands.

And then he went and tried them on in front the mirror.

A few days later I saw him wearing them — he wouldn’t take them off, in fact. It’s fucking weird, innit? She’s kind of right there, buried in his face, buried on his nose. I gotta say though, he looks pretty damn good in them. 

Benjamin George Coles has previously published short stories in The London Magazine and Erotic Review, and essays in Film International and Bright Lights Film Journal. He won the 2022 Crème Fraîche screenwriting competition at the Luxembourg City Film Festival – as a result of which his short film A Place to Be was made. He’s also a member of the pan-European artist collective Antropical and a regular contributor to their blog.

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