A Pair of Glasses
Written by BC in 2003
Once upon a time there lived a lamb who always went to the library. But the words always appeared blurry. She didn’t know what to do about it. So she decided to tell her mother. Then when she heard news she got her some glasses. Lamb didn’t like the glasses but they were important. She didn’t want to go out in public, so she got her little brother to do it for her. She told him the names of the books and he went. When he got there he couldn’t remember the names of the books and plus, he didn’t know how to read. So, he came back with the wrong books. Lamb decided to go in public. Nobody laughed. She was glad. When she came back her mother said, “I’m proud of you. You did the right thing.”
This Aged Anecdote is brought to you in part by inspiration from my childhood stuffed animal, Lamby Love, who was—-surprisingly—-a lamb! She was in the inner circle of the stuffed animal hierarchy; I had a zoo of stuffed animals, but Lamby Love was one of my favorites. She was light gray, worn dark gray with dirty hands and grime, and her legs were loose at where they connected to her body, because she was so “well-loved.”
Our protagonist for “A Pair of Glasses” is not a Lamby Love, though, just “Lamb.” Isn’t that such a lovely name? Lamb. I’m willing to guess that it’s a family name, too. Little Lamb is unique because she frequents the library. I wonder if it’s a lamb library? Where there are only lambs—-lambs shelving books, lambs at the reference desk with reading glasses perched low on their muzzle, lambs baa-ing and other lambs shushing them. Or if it’s a human library, and Lamb strolls right up into that establishment with all the other little children, like she knows she’s different from the humans but that’s not about to stop her from checking out her favorite book.
Regardless of what kind of library it is though, we discover that Lamb has trouble seeing clearly. This puts kind of a damper on reading and most activities in general because when you can’t see properly, you can’t know properly. Lamb could see the sentence “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog’s back” and think it said “The quiet brick box lunged the oven to a crazy log’s bark,” which, while it’s funny, and kind of fun to say, really makes no sense at all and has no relation to the original sentence’s intended meaning. We can only imagine how frustrating this would be to an avid reader like Lamb, who depends on her vision.
At first, Lamb doesn’t know what to do about this. I bet it would be pretty frightening to see things blurry and not know what that meant. So, naturally, she goes to her mother. I wonder if she said something like, “Mom, my eyes aren’t working!” Or “Mom, all these books I keep reading have a really funny language that I don’t understand!” Or “Mom, aliens are hacking into my brain and jumbling up words!” Mom knows what’s up though, as moms usually do, and right away she gets her baby some glasses.
Except children never appreciate Mom properly, and Lamb doesn’t like the glasses. At least Lamb recognizes that they’re important, though; she doesn’t want to leave the house, but at least she wears them. I’m not too hip to lamb culture, but if it’s anything like American human culture, being a patron of the library is not necessarily considered “cool” when you’re a kid. It could be different for lambs, but Lamb’s schoolmates may consider her a “bookworm” or “book lamb” for this past time. Then on top of that, Lamb has glasses now, playing into the whole “book lamb” stereotype, so we can sort of empathize with Lamb and why she doesn’t want to go out in public. Children tend to say mean things because they don’t have that honed filter in their brain that stops them before they say something cruel and goes, “Actually, put that thought back where it came from and don’t you dare speak it. You’re just hungry, William, and you don’t mean it. I don’t care how much Lily looks like Garfield, she will not appreciate you likening her to a fat, lazy cat.”
Now we come to my favorite part of this story. The way the author wrote this is perfect for comedic effect. So, Lamb doesn’t want to go out in public—-not even to the library, which is pretty bad, because if she’s a “nerd lamb,” she should at least find refuge at the library, where there are likely other lambs in glasses—-so she has her little brother do her bidding, in true big sister fashion. (I can attest to this.) Lamb tells him what books she wants, and he runs off, cooperating with her demands for some reason. (Being a big sibling is often a game of “how much can I get away making my little sibling do for me?”) (I can also attest to this.)
The author writes, “When he got there he couldn’t remember the names of the books and plus, he didn’t know how to read.” The way she adds the comment about him not knowing how to read cracks me up—-as though his illiteracy isn’t a huge factor in the success rate of him retrieving books for her. The author’s like, “Oh, and by the way, he was altogether useless in this operation.” As though they hadn’t considered that as a possible issue at all when devising this plan. I imagine Lamb being like, “Hey, brother, I need you to get me some books.” And the brother’s nodding like, “Yeah, yeah!” And Lamb says, “Okay, here are the titles.” And the brother’s nodding like, “Yeah, yeah! I got this.” And Lamb’s like, “Okay, go run off to the library now and get them.” And then the brother shows up at the library like, “Huh, I have no idea what the heck I’m doing.”
So, the brother comes back with the wrong books, which, if you’ve ever been a bookworm, or a book lamb, for that matter, is incredibly disappointing. You’re at home, waiting to find out what happens to Jamie in the next installment of your book series, very much looking forward to your brother actually doing you a solid for once and saving the day, and instead, here your little brother comes back with ten collections of Garfield comics, and you’re like, “Dang it, William! You can’t do anything right! Why didn’t you tell me you couldn’t read!” Or, “Why didn’t I think that you were too young to read and my plan was ultimately short-sighted!”
This is all it takes for Lamb. After he comes back with the wrong books, she immediately changes her mind. The very next sentence, the author writes, “Lamb decided to go in public.” Lamb’s like, “You know what, I need to find out what happens to Jamie; I can’t just sit here and read Garfield comics all day, and I don’t care if the whole village laughs at me for it—-I’m going to the library!” That is the power of books, my friends.
And here’s the thing: no one laughs at her. Lamb was so afraid of what people thought of her wearing glasses that she was willing to stay home all day and deprive herself of the wonders of the library and her one greatest passion. That’s some serious self-consciousness, to stop a book lamb from going to the library! She was so worried about others laughing at her that she got stuck with ten issues of Garfield, when really, no one made a big deal about her glasses at all. I’m sure she even got a couple compliments on them at the library; “Nice glasses, Lamb! Looking wise!” I know if I saw a lamb in glasses, I’d probably love the heck out of that lamb immediately.
This is where Mom pops in at the end, saying she is proud of Lamb. I bet Mom knew what was going on the whole time; she heard Lamb and her brother “whispering” about their secret operation to send the brother to the library, and Mom was just shaking her head, knowing that this plan was not going to work, but letting them get into their harmless shenanigans nonetheless. Mom was probably like, “Well, little William can’t read at all, but I’d rather he be running to the library to do errands for Lamb than playing in the dirt or making a mess of his room.”
So Lamb lets go of her insecurity for the sake of books, Mom is proud of Lamb, and the little brother still can’t read, but at least he visited a library today. He will probably enjoy the Garfield comics for himself, and rack up a huge late fee on his sister’s library card. That’s what brothers are for. Even when they do you a favor, it ends up backfiring. I suppose that’s the lesson here—-brothers are no good.
I do adore this story, though. Because when Lamb solves her sight issue by getting glasses, she is afraid that people will be cruel to her. The glasses work, and they help her see, but it sets her apart from the others, and so she lets her anxiety fantasize of all the bad things others will do to her or say about her. But Lamb doesn’t have to worry; in fact, because of her worrying, she ended up wasting half of her day trying to get her brother to pick out her books instead of doing it herself. In the end, she realizes that her worrying is holding her back. And then she just does it. She just goes out in public. And things aren’t as bad as she expected. In fact, they’re not bad at all. And even if the others did laugh at her, it would be because they themselves had seeds of negativity in them, wrongly projecting them on little Lamb. So Lamb, in the end, had nothing to be nervous about, or self-doubtful about.
I like this story because it’s indicative of our tendency to worry unnecessarily. It reminds us that worrying is counter-productive, because no matter how much we worry, a situation is going to happen how it happens. We could worry twenty times as much and it wouldn’t change the outcome, and maybe even make it worse, and we would have suffered so much more for all the worrying. Lamb reminds us about that.
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