Purple Coats and Contact Lenses
By Linda Lewis

When Ted doesn’t realise that his wife of thirty three years has started wearing contact lenses, she decides to go on a break. Alone!

I stood in front of my husband which wasn’t easy to do, seeing as he was sitting at the corner of the kitchen table.

‘Notice anything?’ I said. He glanced up from the paper. ‘About what?’ It was enough to try the patience of St Francis. ‘About me. Do you see anything different?’

I gently pushed his newspaper down so that he had no choice but to look at me. His face took on a vaguely puzzled expression. ‘Your hair. It looks nice. Have you had it done?’ ‘Yes, but that was last week. Try again.’ ‘Sorry. I give up,’ he said at last.

I counted to ten, then fifteen, then twenty. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was twenty-eight.

Two days ago, I switched to contacts and my husband of thirty three years still hasn’t even noticed. I should have been surprised but I wasn’t.

Ten years ago, I went to stay with my sister in Cork. On the way back I somehow managed to get on the wrong train. When I wasn’t at the station, Ted panicked, this was before mobile phones had been invented, and went to the police station. When they asked him for a description of what I looked like, all he could think of to say was that I was ‘average’.

Average height, average weight. He hadn’t a clue; he wasn’t even sure what colour my eyes were. Since I changed to contact lenses, everywhere I go my friends people gasp. ‘Is that really you, Laura?’ they say. ‘You look completely different.’ And they’re not just saying that, because it’s true.

Not for the first time, I start to wonder if Ted would notice if I wasn’t there. I don’t mind, or rather I’ve got used to him saying nothing when I’ve had my hair done or bought a new dress. He still hasn’t mentioned my new winter coat which, as it’s an in-your-face deep shade of purple, you might have thought he’d notice, but this business with my glasses was something else entirely.

I arrived at work feeling thoroughly miserable. ‘Why the long face?’ asked my friend Liz. ‘It’s Ted,’ I sighed. ‘He hasn’t noticed I’ve stopped wearing glasses.’ ‘Oh dear. That’s terrible.’ She tried not to giggle but didn’t succeed. ‘It’s not funny,’ I said. ‘No,’ Liz put her hand over her mouth. ‘I suppose it isn’t. What are you going to do about it?’ ‘I have absolutely no idea,’ I replied miserably. ‘All I know is that I need to do something.’

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