One of the benefits of being seemingly unable to write anything much more than 1,000—and having a tendency, most of the time, to write things that clock in much beyond 500—is that I can write about small things. If I were to try to write a lengthy essay on cleaning my reading glasses with spit, I probably wouldn’t fail. Fortunately, with the microscopic size of most of the things that I write, a meditation on using saliva as a vision becomes a viable topic for an essay.
So…yes, I clean my reading glasses with spit. If they are regular reading glasses, I will lick the front and back, and then wipe them with a cloth. If they are my Clik reading glasses, in which a magnet holds the bridge together and pulls apart when I need it to, I wet my lips, put the entire left or right eyepiece component in my mouth, and pull it out, and yes, once again, I do at this point wipe off the spit that’s now on my glasses.
It is only now occurring to me as I write this that many times, when people have asked to borrow my reading glasses, I have basically lent them eyewear that I have drooled on. It is quite possible that one or two of the people who’ve borrowed my reading glasses are reading this right now. I’m really, really sorry.
I got the idea for doing this from my grandmother, back before I had correction surgery, when I was nearsighted. Before I saw her do this, I would do the standard thing of exhaling on them to fog them up. It never quite worked as well as I wanted it to, but at least it cleared up my glasses well enough to use them.
Then I saw my grandmother do this, and, after my eyes widened slightly, I figured “hey, what the heck, give it a try…grandma’s proved herself to be a wise woman.”
It turns out that spit is a truly awesome agent for cleaning eyeglasses. When I wipe down my glasses after salivating all over them, they are so clear that it doesn’t feel as if I’m looking through anything.
Yes, I know that there are certain solvents I can spray on my lenses to clean them, but they’re far less convenient to carry around than spit, which I carry around in my mouth all the time.
As I think of the readers who’ve borrowed my reading glasses over the year who are no doubt emotionally traumatized at this moment, my thoughts turn to our hyper sanitized society. Okay, look, to be honest, if I needed to read, I wouldn’t really care where you’re glasses had been, so long as you had the decency to wipe off whatever was on them before you lent them to me. I’m one of those folks who think that hand sanitizer is turning us all into sterile, fragile beings, highly vulnerable to mortal peril from germs that, a generation ago, would have caused a slight cough and a stuffed up nose.
I often think that the only people who will remain alive after germ warfare will be people like me, who have no problem borrowing drooled on glasses, and people who have no problem borrowing them. When it is only us left on earth, I shall be here, writing my daily essays, stopping occasionally to clean my glasses. And when I do, I shall enjoy the aspect of this task that gives me more than just a clear set of lenses: it allows me, many times a day, to think of grandmother, who was, without a doubt, one of the finest women who ever lived.
I can live in fear of germs, or I can have clear lenses, and great memories of my grandmother. I choose the latter.