Recently – and quite unwillingly, I hasten to add – I found myself making my first real, true, honest-to-goodness genuine concession to the unfortunate reality that is the aging process.

I got bifocals.

To be honest, it kind of surprised me that I took this development as hard as I did. After all, I’ve been wearing eyeglasses since the third grade, so it’s not like there was any kind of period of adjustment like I'm sure my father went through when he had to start wearing reading glasses a few years back.

And I got the “no-line” style, which means it isn’t readily noticeable to the causal observer that I am wearing bifocals. Unlike, say, my wife Melissa, who had to get bifocals herself not quite a year ago and has been heard to say several times in recent weeks that’s she’s going to go back and get some no-lines herself as soon as time and family finances allow.

Even so, even as a bespectacled third grader, bifocals were something I equated with old people. Like my grandparents. Or my cranky old third grade teacher Mrs. Miedema. Or that mean old buzzard who lived up the street from us and spent all his time sitting on his front porch, cussing at the neighborhood kids whenever any of us made the mistake of riding by his house on our bicycles. 

Truth to tell, none of us ever got close enough to Mr. Buzzard to tell if he wore bifocals or not. But I always suspected that he did. I also suspected that, on nights when the moon was full, he turned into a bloodthirsty werewolf and terrorized poor defenseless children from one end of Kankakee County to the other. But that’s a story for another time...

Actually the bifocals themselves haven't been all that difficult for me to get used to. In fact, speaking strictly from the point of view of one whose work depends a great deal on the condition of his eyesight, I'm kind of glad I got them. It’s nice to be able to read without difficulty again. There for a while I was having to lift my old glasses up and pull the page up to my nose any time I tried to read something printed in anything smaller than 14-point type.

That was embarrassing enough. What made it worse was the constant ribbing I was getting about it from my two sons. To be fair, I'd had it coming; I'd kidded their mother for having to do the same thing during that period just before she'd gotten her bifocals. I just didn't quite anticipate that Joshua and William would have set about the task of giving me a taste of my own medicine with such enthusiasm. And don't think I won't remind my wife of that fact the next time we're having a disagreement about what to have for dinner or some other minor matter, and she complains that the boys always take my side...

What HAS been a bit hard for me, in terms of getting used to my new glasses, is the way they look. It's not a matter of vanity, but rather of familiarity. I'd been wearing basically the same style of eyewear since high school. I was used to it. It was comfortable. Like a favorite old shirt or pair of shoes. It was, to put it as simply as I know how, like an old friend. And I always knew it was me when I looked in the mirror.

But the nice lady at the optometrist's office said they didn’t offer bifocals in that style. “They used to,” I protested. “I've known people that wear them.”

“Styles change,” she answered.

“Well, tell them to stop,” I complained as she started sliding different sets of frames onto my face to get my wife’s opinion. Apparently Melissa had more say in the matter than I did. It was just like when we got married and everybody was telling me what color tuxedo I had to wear. I responded now as I did then. I kept my big mouth shut to keep the peace. Love will do that to a guy.

Finally we hit upon a pair of frames that Melissa really liked and I hated less than the others, and that was that. A week or so later I went back to pick up my new glasses, listened as the nice lady and my wife reassured me again that they looked just fine, and, well, here I am.

Actually it’s not that they look bad. They just look different. And I'm getting to a point in life where me and different don't always get along so good. (Admitting that is my second concession to getting old, I suppose.) Everyone else seems to think they look fine. At least that's what they keep telling me. One of our county commissioners even said the other day that they make me look a little like Buddy Holly. I laughed and responded that this is what Buddy Holly would have looked like if he had lived to become Fat Elvis. (I’ve always liked self-deprecating humor; why wait for others to put me down when I can do it myself just as well?)

After several weeks I think I'm starting to get used to the look of the new glasses. Heck, I think I’m even starting to like the way they look. It may be that I’m just so happy to not be running into things the way I was there for awhile that I don’t care how they look. But I’d rather believe that I’m man enough to admit that I was wrong.

Now if I can just learn to play the guitar...