The Myopia Club

Hugh of St. Cher
Hugh of St. Cher

Ever since I was a teenager, I have awakened every morning in a kindly and forgiving haze. No sharp edges, no shocking self images in the mirror, just a cozy, comfortable view of my surroundings. When necessary I would put on my glasses and take in lessons written on the chalkboard, distant landscapes and passing traffic. I don't remember ever being great at baseball or football, but I was excellent at long distance running and fair at soccer and basketball--both involving large balls and lots of running around. Mostly I remember good friends, helpful teachers and marvelous play and adventures.

People have been playing with vision aids for centuries. In 1352 they became fashionable when Italian artist Tommasa da Modena painted a series of frescoes featuring monks wearing glasses and Crivelli painted Hugh of St. Cher, featuring its subject in rather primitive, bulky spectacles. Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals and the "John Lennon" look. I had a rather nerd-like horn rimmed version complete with a wire in the middle where it had cracked. They weren't all that important at the time because I was still blissfully unaware of what was out there.

When I discovered contacts, my myopic world flashed into sharp focus. One of the first benefits was increased mobility not only in the physical realm, but the psychological one as well. I saw a lot of things I had missed in my myopic world and started to hold myself and others to a higher, more disciplined standard. Others began to return the favor and my life of comfortable haze disappeared as quickly as I could bounce up and put on my contacts. When a waiter in a sushi restaurant stepped on one of my hard contacts recently, I decided to wear traditional glasses until my eyes adjusted and I could be fitted with contacts again.

I didn't like it. With glasses my world changed. Restricted vision slows my reaction times down a bit, because I am unsure, disoriented or just plain uneasy. Now you would think that this would hamper my social life, but instead, something completely unexpected and pleasant happened.

I got nicer.

It is difficult to hold others, or yourself for that matter, to a high standard when your world is in less than sharp focus. Thinking that perhaps I had discovered something revolutionary, I decided to do a little research and see if others had stumbled upon this phenomenon as well. Little did I know that I would uncover a far-reaching and (the non-myopic among us might say) nefarious conspiracy that reaches up to the highest levels of our society. It begins like this:

The Myopia Hunt Club
The Myopia Hunt Club

The Myopia Club

Shortly after the civil war there were four Princes: Gordon, Charles, Morton and Frederick--not royalty, Prince was their last name. All four of the brothers were plagued with less than normal eyesight and found it difficult to compete with other athletes more fortunate than them. While others with this handicap might have taken up chess or debate, the four Princes started what some historians believe to be America's oldest country club, The Myopia Club, founded in the 1870s on the shores of Wedge Pond in Winchester, Massachusetts. Sure, it was mostly a boys club for athletic dweebs who just wanted to have fun and have the kind of trappings that the jocks had, but after the members' interests turned from boating and tennis to riding and foxhunting, the club moved a few times closer to Boston where the famous railroad magnate and philanthropist, John Murray Forbes and others founded the Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton, Massachusetts in 1882.

This time, bespectacled dweebs were not content to ram into things in boats and chase after fuzzy tennis balls (fuzzy in more ways than one,) they wanted to be able to ride after and hunt a creature they couldn't see. Being fabulously rich, they spared themselves the embrassment and liability of firing guns wildly at a moving and mostly invisible target and employed expert bloodhounds to do the actual hunting for them. They didn't even have to see where they were going because the dogs made such a racket they merely followed the noise, holding on for dear life and congratulating themselves that while any old 20-20 athlete could probably do what they were doing, they wouldn't have nearly as much fun.

Now I don't want you to get the wrong idea about these brave stanchions of society. Being loyal members of the fraternal brotherhood of myopia, they were a kinder, gentler breed of sportsmen.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote of Forbes: "Never was such force, good meaning, good sense, good action, combined with such domestic lovely behavior, such modesty and persistent preference for others. Wherever he moved he was the benefactor... How little this man suspects, with his sympathy for men and his respect for lettered and scientific people, that he is not likely, in any company, to meet a man superior to himself," and "I think this is a good country that can bear such a creature as he."

There--good meaning, good sense, good action...such modesty and persistent preference for others. Myopic brothers and sisters, grab a hanky and stand with me and applaud from the heart the true spirit of those who wear their hyperphacosorbitomyopicosis humbly and with pride!

Bolstered by this new information, that the grand tradition of country club gentry was founded by my fellow Myopia Club members, I got in my car and went boldly out in search of others like myself. There must be more of them than I thought because everywhere I went I found them lifting their hands in salute. They, brave souls, tried to yell encouragement to me as well and many swerved to the side as they did so.

I learned that fully a third of us develop myopia--most during the early school years, coinciding interestingly enough with an increase in sugar intake and a drop in dopamine levels. It is no surprise that the shock of boring, repititious information being force-fed into adolescents would cause the pleasure centers to shut down and require large amounts of Baby Ruths, Hershey Bars, Butterfingers and Twinkies to make up for the loss. Benevolent Nature, saddened by the state of affairs, steps in and ushers her favorites into pre-pubescent Shangri-La, the lost gardens of Myopia.

Jaded and non-believing medical practitioners say that members of the Myopia Club have swelled lenses or corneas resulting in elongated eyeballs to which one of the gifted MC'ers replied: "A man's sight should exceed it's grasp or what's a heaven for?" The truth is that those of Myopia are among those who see the really important things with perfect clarity.They are the first to recognize that respect for the limitations in all of us is what makes us truly human. I would write more of Teddy Roosevelt, John Lennon, Benjamin Franklin and other stellar members of the Myopia Club, but I realized I picked up somebody else's laptop at Starbucks again I must return it right away because the boat is blocking a fire hydrant and the fox is hungry again.

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Comments 35 comments

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India

hyperphacosorbitomyopicosis, haha! Here's to the Myopia Club - may its tribe increase :)

Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA

Better to have myopia than to be myopic....the former being nearsighted and the latter shortsighted. If only corrective lenses could compensate for both.

Emerson certainly thought highly of Mr. Forbes. We should raise our glasses to him! :{)


sunflowerbucky profile image

sunflowerbucky 6 years ago from Small Town, USA

Love it! I wish I could say I get nicer when I wear my glasses. I don't, I get mean. And I flat out can not drive at night in them. This is very disturbing to a thirty something vain chic. Contacts are my lifeline, now I am counting the years until I can afford Lasik!

Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hello dear Shalini, I did not know you were a member but I should have as you are just as Ralph Waldo described. The tribe is definitely increasing since school is just as Beuller, Beuller as ever. I hear there are 400 million in China and as soon as they can find an auto insurance company that will sponsor them they will sign up as well. That other club has a mouse but our mascot, the noble mole inspires us on. Sing with me: M-Y-O, P-I-A, M-O-L-L-E =:)

Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Chris LOL--"Raise our glasses to him!" yes, hilarious. We at MC are very careful to be sensitive to the height challenged among us when we discuss our vision. Near or "close"sighted is preferable to the stature reference and we consider staying "close" to our fellow man a profound compliment. When we talk with you, you will not find us gazing off into the distance--"nearsighted and proud of it" is our motto. =:)

Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Dear Bucky, I simply cannot imagine you as mean but I do think I can, if I may, help you celebrate your gift as we at MC have. When you realize that life is to be experienced up close and personal, formerly daunting activities like fox hunting or driving at night is a personal experience and those who swerve off to the side to encourage you with waves and shouts will keep your spirits high...and when the DMV clerk asks you which line of the chart can you read, simply stand up straight and proud and reply with conviction: "What chart?" =:)

akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

Glasses are a funny thing - having never worn them in my life, turning 40 and having to wear them, it truly just ticks me off. I don't think they make me look 'smart' as my family lies to me....I don't think they make me look 'sexy' as my hubby claims....but I do think they make me LOOK which equates out to SEEING so it can't be that bad, eh? My son has a severe eye defect in his one eye (he was born with only one) and it created a nystagmus that drives him absolutely insane. He actually needs glasses because he has to read 4 inches from his eye - but the glasses make it harder for him to see - I know....WTMI.

Great piece and loved the humor as well! Write on!

Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hey Audrey, you mean your dopamine levels have been consistently high enough to keep you out of the Myopia Club for this long? Well I can guess what you've been up to to keep them that high--wink wink. I see you are attempting an little upstagement with a VIMSWNOKOCP of your own...(Very Impressive Medically Sounding Word No One Knows Or Can Pronounce)..nystagmus hmmmm. Well just tell your son he is warmly welcomed into the Myopia Club where we keep our friends close and our reading material closer. Thanks for the nice comment and so happy you are one of us at last. =:)

Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 6 years ago from India

Who would have thought a topic like myopia could be so entertaining?!! :)

Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Ha ha, you are right FP, a waitress in a sushi bar, the death of a contact, mysterious figures and surroundings, a conspiracy in high places, a hunt for an elusive fox--yes Watson, the game is afoot! =:)

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Failing eyesight is very scaring. I soon have to get some glasses.

Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hello my friend, Hello--Yes at first it seems scary, but after awhile you realize you are in a warm and exclusive club of people who see eye to eye as only near or close sighted people can. You find you are bumping into or running into friends all the time and unless it involves heavy machinery you and they will be the closer for it. =:)

SusanAdele profile image

SusanAdele 6 years ago

Loved your piece! Being a long-time member of the Myopia Club I could totally relate!! And thank God, find the humor in it. :) I loved the Mr. Magoo clip also! Awesome!

mysterylady 89 profile image

mysterylady 89 6 years ago from Florida

Having had bad eyesight all my life, I got a kick out of this. I also enjoyed the fact that some of my friends, when they turned 40, had to use glasses when reading menus. This I do not have to do!

A fun hub! Btw, I did link your "Weeds" hub to my latest.

Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Well Susan we here at the Myopia Club have a special fondness for charter members. I was looking for an appropriate quote and didn't like them so here is a Winsomism for you:

"Many people see far and miss much. Those of us with the ability to see what is nearest to us have brought the world closer and therefore are much more likely to see its beauty."

Thank you for your gracious words. =:)

Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Greetings M'Lady, I just knew you must have been one of the gifted ones. Rather than call our gift "bad or poor eyesight" we give it the title it deserves, "propensity for closeness," because those such as yourself who possess it, display all the warmth, regard and generosity that has come to exemplify all who dwell in the paradise Myopia.

Thank you for linking "Weeds," we in MC are grateful for the gift that allows us to see the beauty that is often overlooked right at our feet. =:)

attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

Hi Winsome I always said you were a visionary, quirky hubs are the life blood of hubpages and any topic is interesting if it's written well enough. Cheers mate. Eye love it.

Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hey AH, I appreciate the tribute from a master of quirky and interesting--this was Utopia meets Myopia and who knew it was the foundation of gentrified exclusivity. Thanks for stopping by. =:)

rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 6 years ago from Tampa Bay

I love where you take these topics. who else could write about myopia, hunt clubs, Emerson and quirky adolescence and make it as entertaining as winsome? Whenever I wear my glasses, I feel smarter.. :] thanks for a great read. xo

Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

And so you should Rebekah, fetching and brilliant in your MC designer glasses. Thanks and a Myopia Club wink and a nod to you. =:)

Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

I guess I am a relatively new member, still frustrated at being 50% far sighted and 50% nearsighted. Is there a club for me?

Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hi GL, of course there is a club for you and you can tell those guys in the Hyperopia Club we saw (well, as much as we can) you first. We are the nice club, the "Up Close and Personal" Club. Although we try to stay on good terms with all clubs, we do find the Hyperopians to be a little distant. They try to keep things and others at arms length, while we Myopians like to keep our friends as close as possible. You are a rare individual, blessed with many gifts and although we don't like to toot our own horn, I don't think you will find any Hyperopians who have a pedigree extending to the very first country club in America. I have presented you to the MC board and just let me say they are pleased to extend to you a membership into the inner circle of Iota Iota Iota Iota or "4 I's" as we like to call it. =:)

gr82bme profile image

gr82bme 6 years ago from USA

Cool, well done. Very interesting

Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hey gr8, we gotta laugh at some things don't we--thanks so much for stopping by. I see by your avatar that you may be a candidate for membership and I hope to see you around the Club. We'll tally ho or something. =:)

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada

I began to read, but realized I had to read a little closer. :) For I do and I, only recently, have gone back to glasses from my contacts. Now that I'm fitted properly, I love both. I'm finally a happy camper wearing either, or or both (hey, it's fuzzy again!!!)

Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Ha ha that's the spirit. I got my contacts back as well and although I prefer going a little faster, part of me misses the grand old comfort of the nose based specs. Thanks Beth, you made me chuckle. =:)

Ana Louis profile image

Ana Louis 6 years ago from Louisiana

funny and such a clear interpretation of the spectacle life.

Let me just say that living in blur-ville is quite the adventure, and the wearing of a stylish vision enhancing apparatus can be socially elevating. However, I would gladly return to the days of my 20/20 youth.

I find that missing steps and rolling out into the yard might seem like an Indiana Jones moment, but really - just made me mad. However, I discovered that I am still quite athletic in my declining years. And the inability to read a road sign far enough ahead to be of use turns out to be very time consuming. All that turning around and going back to make the turn I missed, makes me late. But then, I get to see a little more of the world than I would have otherwise.

Thank you Mr. Franklin, and you too Mr. Winsome.

Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hello Ana, I would have acknowledged your wonderful comment sooner, but I just got back from the fox hunt. Turns out we were following a bunch of barking parrots instead of the hounds and wound up in Mexico. As to the road signs, except for the Burma Shave ones, if God had intended us to read road signs he wouldn't have invented Gps. Mine has a librarian sounding voice that nags me if I take the wrong turn. "Now Winsome, didn't I warn you three blocks back to get into the far right lane? Two wrongs don't make a right but in your case three lefts do so continue on...."

Good to know you can do those tuck and roll exercises, we at MC are drilled in those as well as ducking and weaving. Indiana is a regular member and he told us that his adventures would be quite boring without a little myopia thrown in. Glad you enjoyed the promo and send in your application, we are thinking of opening up a sister club in New Orleans. When our members die, we like the idea of being able to follow the sound of jazz in the procession. =:)

Ana Louis profile image

Ana Louis 6 years ago from Louisiana

I appreciate the invitation, and I will try to get my application in the mail soon. New Orleans is a perfect place for a sister club. No need for vision enhancement there, it seems (according to the locals) that it is a place most visitors prefer to experience close up and distorted..."following the sound of jazz..." I like that. Gps huh? :) Maybe I should look at one of those.

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago

Well done hub on a topic that is so common among us. Thanks for the entertaining article. I like your writing style.

Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

I'm glad you enjoyed it TK, I don't think I've ever seen a topic that doesn't have some humor in it. I've poked fun at myopia, weeds, frogs, ABC's, diets, memory and even hubs themselves (Ten Way-Cool Hubs.) Thanks for reading and I like your style too. =:)

kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago

This is the first time I heard someone else express what I have experienced - that my visual acuity directly affects my mental acuity; the more clearly I see, the more clearly I see. It's so re-assuring to know that there is someone with whom I can see eye to eye. Thanks Winsome!

Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

You are so welcome Kim, I am delighted to know you are a blue-blooded Myopian and one of the only ones who truly see "eye to eye." You know all the great poets who spoke of gazing into their love's eyes were all card-carrying myopians--except of course "far-sighted" Poe who had to gaze at an eye from a doorway with a thin ray of light.

The rest of them--"drink to me only with thine eyes" and

"She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that's best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes"

were charter members of our cherished group.

Thank you for visiting and may your eyes always see with your heart. =:)

Sun-Girl profile image

Sun-Girl 5 years ago from Nigeria

Funny but very useful information you actually shared in here though it sounds funny.

Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Thank you Sun-Girl, I always try to give readers more than they expected--if I can give you a laugh too, then all the better. These days all you have to do is read the news. I read that a 22 year old student found some planetary material out in space that was misplaced for many years by the scientists who discovered it. Can't you just hear them: "Amelie (that was her name) have you seen my glasses? Oh and while you're at it can you find that planet we misplaced?" =:)

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