I’ve always had a vivid imagination. I was the only girl out of four boys so I had to learn how to entertain myself. I had friends, usually a best friend that I would spend all my time with, get sick of, find a replacement for, then repeat. This cycle typically rotated between just a few girls.
My bestfriend for this story was Deborah, she went by Debbie. (I’m guessing after the Debbie Gibson era, she has gone back to Deborah). She was also from a Czech family. Her mom was an angry woman, with short gray tight curly hair and a permanent scowl. Debbie’s father, Clem was super nice. Looking back I think he was so nice and laid back because he was typically drinking. Either way, very nice. She had one older sister that wasn’t around much. I remember thinking she was so cool because she had “rock band” posters all over her room. That “rock band” was Prince. In fact, she looked like she could have been in the band. She had mullet like permed hair and wore shiney clothes. I wished I could be just like her.
In fact, I was borderline obsessed with these older women (older=teenager). My oldest brother Jason had started bringing his girlfriend around. She was in this “older women” genre. I remember Mindy, short for Melinda, to always wear black, her bangs in her face, and always had a look of “whatever” on her face. I know this look now, she was a stoner. But at the time, I really thought she was just the coolest person I had ever met. I even tried to mimic her. I started using hair spray, had the most awesome waterfall hair, and wore my only black T-shirt over and over again. I even tried to have my own nick name by using my middle name Leigh, and insisting everyone call me by that (never stuck.)
She never actually talked to me, but in a life surrounded by spitting, farting and cursing, Mindy was a welcome site. Jason would bring Mindy over to our house and hide in his bedroom for hours. I remember my mother sending each brother to “check on them” one at a time. As part of my obsession, I listened to what they talked about. I would lean up against Jason’s bumper-sticker covered bedroom door and try to hear what they were saying. They were usually fighting or talking about stupid stuff way over my head. Then I heard it. The most amazing thing I’ve ever heard in my life.
Mindy had a glass eye.
I honestly can’t even remember what they were talking about or why it came up. I just remember that I couldn’t wait to check it out. I burst in the room.
“Mom wanted me to check on you,” I said all excitedly. I was staring directly at Mindy waiting to see some sort of clue that she did, in fact, have a glass eye.
As Jason kicked me, and began shoving me out of the door, Mindy started laughing. Maybe because she wasn’t concentrating, her left eye began rolling around as the right eye was completely out of sync. This was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I had to have one.
I practiced my glass eye routine for hours in front of the mirror. To this day I can still look at you with one eye and make the other roll around. I needed to show someone my new found skill. Now.
My mom took me to Debbie’s house. I set down my cabbage patch cornsilk doll, and looked really, really, sad. Debbie was only slightly concerned (I was always having some sort of drama, made-up or real).
“I have something to tell you,” I said to Debbie. “You have to promise to keep it a secret.” This meant in Rachel terms, be sure to tell ever one you know so I look really cool and become the most popular kid in the fourth grade.
“I’ve tried to keep it a secret as long as I could. I have a glass eye.” Honestly, I would have cried, but I wasn’t sure if a glass eye could produce tears or not, I figure I should stick to the helpless puppy dog look.
Debbie was amazed. Just as I thought, she thought this was perhaps the coolest thing ever. She tried to share some sort of heart murmur story with me but I wasn’t having it. This was my day to shine. I was the one with the real handicap here.
All day long, I remember talking to her and doing my new eye-wondering trick. I told her how nice it was to not have to try and fake it in front of my best friend, and it was nice to just let my eye go wherever it wanted. She was in awe. I know she was.
She tried to get me to take it out, but I told her my mother would be mad at me and I wasn’t allowed to. I wasn’t a rule breaker after all. What kind of girl did she think I was?
I had to go home early that day. My glass eye was giving me an incredible headache.