“Well, look at you in your high-heeled wedges and your sunglasses! You got out of your car and I thought ‘she looks like a model!’ ” He stretches out his arms, “Oh, I’m sweaty, you don’t want to hug me,” he says as he hugs me to him.
I smile, “Hi. How are you?”
“I’m great, I’m great. Hadn’t seen you in a while, and I was wondering if you had the kids doing soccer this fall! Alicia’s out there, ” he says, pointing to a group of girls running drills through cones on the soccer field beside us. “She wasn’t sure she wanted to play again, but….” He still has one hand on my arm, a big smile on his face. He’s really delighted to see me.
I have no idea who this man is. Thinking back through years of soccer practices and school functions, I try to place his face amongst those of the teachers and parents and coaches I’ve spoken with over the years. I come up with nothing, but that’s not unusual. I don’t wear my glasses, and my inability to recognize people because of this is a great source of amusement to my family. They’re also endlessly amused by my defense of not wearing my glasses: seeing everything clearly sort of freaks me out. It’s too much, it overstimulates me, and that’s the last thing anyone wants to have happen.
But I swear, I do not know this man. I think.
He tells me how he’s started running again, and I listen as he catches me up on Alicia. She was nervous about moving up to her new middle school, but she’s really enjoying sixth grade. Luckily she has classes with her friends. I’m happy for Alicia, who I don’t even know; middle school is a big change. I smile and nod, “Good, good, I’m glad she’s liking it.”
While my vision might be terrible, my memory is not, and none of this is familiar. It occurs to me that I am not who he thinks I am, and I’m afraid to take off my sunglasses because this could get really embarrassing for both of us.
He catches sight of something over my shoulder, and tells me Kathy has just pulled into the parking lot, and she’ll be happy to see me, too. Sweet mother of Pearl, will this never end? I quickly develop an urgent need to speak to the boys’ coaches who are several fields down, say my goodbyes and tell him I’ll have to catch up with Kathy later.
I spend the next hour watching the boys practice and nervously looking over my shoulder, hoping Alicia’s practice ends early and she and her parents go home. They don’t. The boys finish first, and we quickly powwow. “Guys. See the man over there in the green shirt–DON’T LOOK, don’t look!”
“How can we see him if we can’t look?” Matt asks.
“Ok, look. But casually. Do we know him?”
“Do you even know where your glasses are?” Asks Riley.
“Ri! Her glasses freak her out,” defends Matt.
“Yeeeeah Ri! So shuddupyou!” I say. “But do we know him?”
No, we do not know him, we do not know Alicia, we do not know Kathy.
I tell them the exit plan, and as we walk by the man and his wife the boys start asking me questions, requiring my attention. How can I stop and chat when I’m in the midst of intense parenting and we need to get home? I can’t! Without breaking stride, I wave to the couple and quickly usher the boys into the car. Kathy and I will have to chat some other time.
“Mom,” says Riley with authority as he buckles up, “we don’t know them.”
“Yeah, but where are your glasses?” Asks Matt.
“Dude. We do not know them!” I say. “It’s not my eyes!”
“But if you wore your glasses you’d recognize people better. It’s a shame they freak you out.”
It’s true, it is. But, it’s also true that the responsibility for this man’s mistake will land on me because I don’t wear my glasses. Does that seem right?