Monday, March 14, 2011
Eyesight for Two
"Betty, when you get a chance, can you hand over the glasses?" my Dad says, as he squints his eyes and tries to scan the menu in front of him.
I glance up and watch, amused, as my mother takes the glasses off of her face and hands them over to my father. "Waitaminute, let me get this straight," I say, after he places the pair over his nose. "You two share the same glasses?"
"It's the damnedest thing," says my father. "We went to the eye doctor a while back for our eye exam, and he came back into the room and said, 'I've never actually seen this happen, but the two of you have exactly the same prescription.'"
"I guess all those years of living together have kind of rubbed off on us," laughs my mom.
"So you decided to buy only one pair of glasses because of that?"
"Hey, why spend more money?" says my dad, placing his menu down after selecting a salad. "We're always around each other, so it's not like one of us is ever going to be without them."
"I really hope both of you never need to buy false teeth," Corb says. "I'd never want to eat lunch with you and have to watch that."
I think it's kind of cute, and a sign of how strong their relationship is. I can't see Corb ever sharing a pair of eyeglasses with me. We'd get in all sorts of arguments about who was going to use them first to order, and besides that, he'd have to Purel the glasses to death every time I handed them over. Which would make them smell funny, I think.
Still, I guess when you've been together for over forty years, things such as who gets to order from the menu first and Purelling (is that an actual word?) become kind of meaningless.
I'm simultaneously envious of their longevity and filled with admiration for it. It takes a lot of trust to get the point of sharing eyewear together. Even a lot of people who have been together for over 40 years fail to get there. I think my parents number among the lucky.
Perhaps that's where I learned devotion from. In fact, I'm pretty much convinced of it. Either that, or it's just a matter of genes. My parents taught me to stick it through to the bitter end, and in both of the major relationships that I've had, that's the approach that I've taken.
Is such loyalty a good thing or a bad, I wonder? There are many cases where it doesn't make any sense at all, of course. But for my parents, it's clearly been a good thing.
For me, I haven't been nearly as successful, but even so: Corb and I are now going on eight years, an eternity in the world of gay males (although I really think that's a bit of a cliche and patently untrue, because there are so many long-term gays around.) Even more, Josie and I could have ended things a lot worse than we did, and even though we're no longer together, we still share a number of common bonds. It's never been like some divorced couples who feel the need to sever their ties completely and with a certain amount of cruel finality. That's a twenty-year connection that still exists, even if it has been redefined, several times.
I'd like to think the loyalty gene my parents passed on to their children has served me well through the years, even if others may not agree. While I may never get to the point of sharing a pair of eyeglasses with someone, I do think they've passed on to me a sense of shared vision, a way of seeing things in a way that other people don't: two people, one lifetime.
Two people, one lifetime. I have to admit, I kind of like the sound of that. At the very least, it's kept my parents seeing things the same way for over forty years now.