By ice rivers
Redemption is a refocusing, a relief and a release.
Once we got glasses as kids, the BIGGEST fear of them all was losing those glasses. The remedy for this childhood fear was simple....DO NOT TAKE THEM OFF until you go to bed and when you go to bed put them next to your bed so you can PUT THEM ON as soon as you wake up.
I had glasses before any of my friends. Al was the youngest kid in our gang. He was already a Parsells Avenue legend because one day after the milkman delivered a dozen eggs to his house, we talked Al into dropping an egg off his concrete front steps onto the asphalt driveway that was his sideyard. The egg splattered to the delight of everyone most particularly Albert who was thoroughly enjoying the attention of us older kids. I'm thinking Al was maybe four years old. The oldest kids were eight. I was six.
After the first egg shattered, all the kids started yelling "Drop another one, Al."
Al dropped another one to the cheering of the gang. Al kept getting more cheers and kept smashing more eggs until the entire dozen was yolking and frying on the summer asphalt. We all knew it was funny but we all sensed it was wrong. Al's Dad, a WW 2 Marine who made his living driving a Coke truck and who drove a Buick when not driving the truck would be home soon. We all took off after the last egg was smashed and before the Coke truck appeared. Al was alone on his steps, kinda proud but kinda worried.
There are a lot of rumors about what happened when his Dad got home. All I know for sure is we didn't see Al again for a couple of weeks. Meanwhile we played baseball in my backyard. The lilac bush was first base. The cherry tree was second base. The bench was third and the bottom of the hill was home plate. Anything hit over the barbed wire adjoining the lilac bush was the end of the game until somebody gathered the gumption to ask Mrs. Goode our next door neoghbor if we could please get the ball from her yards. She never refused but she watched any interloper with an eagle eye.
Eventually, Al joined us and to the surprise of everybody, he had a talent for baseball. Kid could hit and run.
Summers passed and by the time he was eight, Al was a full fledged member of the gang. He was good at everything...Baseball...football...king of the hill...Cowboys and Indians.... Hide and Seek....Tag....Green Arrow.....Soldiers. He became my best pal as the other kids abandoned the Avenue for the suburbs or California.
Then one December day, Al showed up with glasses. I explained the rule DO NOT TAKE THEM OFF. Al said that his Dad had already made that rule VERY clear.
The next day was my birthday. My father took five of us downtown to the movies. We went to see Hondo starring John Wayne. I don't think that Al had been to a lot of movies in his life but as an expert Cowboys and Indians player, he was blown away by Hondo. So were we all. It's still one of my favorite movies because of that day. The cinematography was full of blue sky and white cloud and they really popped. Today, as a photographer I am a confirmed cloudman always looking to pop. That's part of the reason we moved South, for the sake of the poppin clouds and blue, blue sky.
After the movie, we started to drive home when somebody noticed that Al's glasses were not on his face. Everybody panicked. We headed back to the theater which had refilled. We looked for the glasses but couldn't find them.
My Dad felt terrible worse than anybody but Al. He went across the street with Al when Al had to report the loss. The hope of course was that they would turn up at "lost and found." Al's Mom took the news in fake stride knowing that the shit would hit the fan when the Coke truck pulled up. We all knew that Al was gonna get it.
Apparently he got it because once again we didn't see him for a couple of weeks.
He didn't have glasses when he showed up.
He didn't get another pair for about a year and he heard about the lost pair every day of that year along with an extra emphatic WE TOLD YOU NOT TO TAKE THEM OFF OF YOUR GODDAMNED FACE every time he heard about the loss.
When he finally got this new pair, he followed the rules and kept them on his face. By this time, I was only wearing my glasses part time.
Still Al carried, for the next fifty years,a shade of insecurity and paranoia that comes with losing something valuable as a young kid. Plus he couldn't figure out why in hell he had taken the goddamned glasses off in the first place. Why had he disobeyed such an essential commandment? He definitely knew better. We often wondered about that over the next couple decades as we encountered the mysteries of rules and obedience.
It always bothered him.
Why had he done it?
One day a couple of years ago, Hondo came on Turner Classic Movies. I watched it again for the first time since the day of the lost glasses. I still loved it. At the conclusion of the movie, the TCM host provided a few tidbits about the movie. He explained that Hondo was one of the first 3D movies.
I called Al. We hadn't spoke in years. I told him I had figured out how and why he had lost his glasses.
"Al, Hondo was in 3D!. You took your glasses OFF to put the 3D glasses ON. You forgot to put your glasses back ON after you took the 3d glasses OFF. You had only been wearing your real glasses for a day or two so it's perfectly understandable that you didn't realize that you weren't wearing them until we were almost home."
"Holy shit, you're right", Al responded. "That's exactly what happened. Thank God Almighty. I'm not as big an asshole as I thought I was." We talked for another couple of hours, comparing notes on trips dwontown and Red Wing games.
The next call I made was to Vin.
He knew exactly what I was talking about. He remembered the day well. He too felt relieved.
When we take our glasses off in exchange for artificial viewers to get a better vision of a temporarily manifested illusion, we've got to remember to put them back on when the illusion fades into reality
Never too late for redemption, no matter the dimension.