Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Ballad of Four-Eyes VanDoesn'tGetIt

When I was in third grade, I started wearing glasses. I pretty much haven't taken them off since.

As I remember it, the problem of my absolute bat-blindedness was discovered when my teacher seated our class alphabetically. As my last name began with V, I was seated near the back. When called on, I would just complain about how I couldn't answer her because I couldn't see, duh.

Which led to a visit to an eye doctor and me discovering that trees are supposed to have visibly different leaves even when you're more than twenty feet away from them. That blew my fragile little mind.

So, glasses. Glasses forever.

A year or two after I gained this new, but permanent part of my face, I was walking in the hallway towards the bathrooms. I was trying to both read my book and move in a straight line at the same time when one of the nastier boys in my class stopped me.

He was one of those kids that had been given the short stick in life and had chosen to hit everyone around him with it. In my class, which was just absolutely filled with small children who were endlessly discovering new ways to be mean to one another, I happened to be one of the easier targets.

"Hey, four eyes," he said, with a sneering smile on his face.

I blinked at him, stumbling to a stop. I was still swimming up out of whatever I was reading. Knowing me, I was probably just re-reading Black Beauty or My Friend Flicka for the seven-killionth time.


"I said, hey Four-Eyes."

Another, long blink. "I have two eyes, Timmy**."

"Yeah, but you wear glasses." His grin stretched even wider. I remember him looking like I imagined evil kids in the Goosebumps books looked.

There was a moment of silence, while I tried to figure out what he was doing.

I wasn't sure what reaction he had been looking to get, but it was pretty clear that my blank stare wasn't it. I was running over things in my head, trying to figure out why he looked so mad all of a sudden. Timmy mad was never a good proposition. "I do, I guess. What did you want?"

Timmy was trying to help, but he wasn't giving me anything except his eyebrows rapidly drawing together in rage. All I had gleaned was that he was angry and growing angrier at me, and that he smelled really really bad.

Had he smelled like that before lunch?

I found that I really didn't want to know what he had done during recess.

"I'm calling you a name," He replied, but at this point he sounded pretty helpless, like even he couldn't remember whether he actually had or not.

"Like, making fun of me?"

"Yes!" The relief in his voice was audible. Finally, I was on the same page as he was.

I shifted my weight from one foot to the other, then shrugged. "Oh, okay." Then I  stuck the book back in front of my face, walked into the bathroom, and by the time I came back out he was gone.

He was sullen in class for the rest of the afternoon (although he was always sullen, so I suppose I should say that he was exceptionally sullen that day), and it occurred to me, albeit only quite a bit later, that I had beaten him. That we had waged some sort of strange child-war, and I had won without even knowing I was supposed to pick up a spear.

My odd victory came entirely by virtue of having so little common sense that by the time I had figured out he was making fun of me, the moment for him to actually get any sort of triumph or good feeling out of insulting me had passed, and he had been left only with himself and his own thoughts as I walked away.

That, and the look that Andy, another kid from our class, had been giving him while he stared at us from his spot at the water fountain.

The moral of this story is that some battles are won not because of cunning, strength, or intrigue, but through absolute obliviousness.

** Names have been changed to protect someone whose life may be very different now.


  1. Fun blog! I found you on the Noisy Plume. She always has great people reading her blog. So I followed you here. Look forward to reading more.

    1. She really does have awesome readers. I tend to click on any link I find in her comment section to someone's site or blog, and I am rarely disappointed :)

      Thanks for coming by!

  2. Bwahahahahaha! Love this story. Especially as a fellow wearer of glasses. I also research librarian portrayals in film, and one of the earliest was this 1930's film called 'Forbidden' in which the young librarian wears glasses and gets taunted by little boys who yell out, "Old lady four-eyes!" If only she had played it as cool in the movie as you did in real life! ;)

    1. I have always had trouble responding to insults that basically amount to "Let me state a fact about your appearance!" Like, yes, I realize I wear glasses/am a bigger lady/wear a color explosion every day. Pffft on you for thinking any part of that bothers me enough to let someone else being awful get to me!

      Also, I love that you research old librarian portrayals. Just for fun, or is there an exciting dissertation in your future, or...?

    2. There already was one! It has also formed the basis of my Reel Librarians site/blog hybrid, :D

  3. Hell yes. This is an excellent story.

    I have no explanation for why, but in 3rd grade, when kids started telling me I was "weird," I somehow intuitively knew that the best response was a blasé "Thank you."

    "Ignoring" bullies really is kind of bullshit advice, but showing bullies you don't give a shit (which I assume is the spirit of the "ignore them" advice) really works. Even if you do it totally unintentionally. ;)

    1. The worst thing an adult can ever say to a bullied kid is "just ignore them". It's well-meaning advice, but in the end it's basically just another way to say "I don't want to expend the energy to help you with this problem, so please stop talking about it." There isn't a bullied kid on the planet who doesn't know, keenly, just how much 'ignore it' doesn't work. Giving a kid that advice will just lead to that kid filing away that you cannot be trusted, you know?


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