Melissa Carter: Vision, vanity and breaking my streak

Lately, experiences are starting to crop up that have made me realize good vision outweighs my pride. For example, on our last road trip I asked Katie to let me know when we reached our exit. Why? I couldn’t see the numbers on the overhead signs.

Recently, I attended orientation for my part-time job at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. During a session that involved audience participation, I asked a man at my table to please read to me the questions that were projected at the front of the room. I noticed someone at the table next to us watch from the corner of his eye, and felt confident he thought I was illiterate.

The final lesson came when I met my friend, Jenn Hobby, for lunch at Souper Jenny. When you enter Souper Jenny, you immediately order from a food bar, with dry erase boards behind the server that explain all the items offered. Of course, I couldn’t read a word of the menu.

Too proud to tell Jenn I needed her to read the menu to me, I simply asked her what soups she recommended. She was too busy reading the boards to respond to my inquiry.

Becoming a little warm from embarrassment and the anxious need to keep the line moving, I recognized what looked like chicken in one of the soup bins. So I pointed and simply ordered “the chicken” then let my words drift off, allowing the server to assume what kind of soup it was that I wanted.

Now it was time to choose a sandwich, but unsure of what choices I had I cleverly asked, “what is your most popular sandwich today?”

The server pointed to a tray close to me and explained the steak sandwich had been the popular item of the hour. I responded by ordering one. Relieved, I felt confident I had masked my blindness from my friend and the entire Souper Jenny staff.

Instead, they likely think I’m a meat freak who orders chicken soup and a steak sandwich — together.

I also had the sense I just became my dad, whose hearing was impaired by his military service decades before I knew him. He was too proud for a hearing aid, and used the smile-and-laugh tactic to get around a conversation he couldn’t hear.

Frustrating for my mother back in the day, I understand how Katie must now feel. Just wear your damn glasses, I can hear her scold, knowing she is right.

It isn’t female vanity that keeps me from donning my glasses. Instead, I have been trying to break some Carter record as the only family member that doesn’t wear glasses.

By giving in and putting my glasses on I break my streak. I am not quite sure why I keep hanging on to this internal competition, but what I do know is I need to learn how to give in gracefully every now and then. So, I will make sure to take my glasses with me wherever I go so I can avoid embarrassing moments like those mentioned.

Then again, if I don’t have them on all the time, my streak remains alive, right? I win.


Melissa Carter is also a writer for Huffington Post. She broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in Atlanta and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter