I took mine off. Then he took his off. And it was magic.
I hadn’t seen him for while. We had decided to meet at an outside café. It was a spectacularly sunny day; the food and wine were perfect. So why was I not having as much fun as I thought I would? Why were we not really connecting? Suddenly I realized the problem: my super-polarized prescription sunglasses were making the world (and him) look great, but I was, in essence, hidden behind them. I switched to my regular glasses and he followed suit. “That’s better,” we agreed, laughing at how much it changed everything.
It’s true we had to squint a little in the sun, but out conversation immediately became more animated, more intimate, and began to flow more naturally. I looked around at the other patrons. Most were wearing sunglasses. I wondered how many of them were with their spouses or best friends. If you know someone well, you can easily interpret nuances of expression with only the lower part of the face visible (you may even prefer to take a break from that person’s expressions--nuances included.) But if you are with anyone other than but a good friend or loved one, you will definitely enjoy more rewarding communication without the shades. Face to face (or eye-to-eye) interaction may be a rapidly disappearing practice, but while it still exists, we should at least get the most out of it.
Obviously it would not be good for your eyes to be without protection from the summer sun too often. But when socializing with someone you do not see every day (and unless you are covering a bruise, or swollen or red eyes,) naked eyes provide much more information than covered ones. Conversing while wearing dark glasses is a bit like eating food with a bad cold. Sure, you’re still eating, but you miss a lot of the flavor.
I have decided that my next pair of glasses are going to be ones that come with either clips-ons or flip-ups, in order to facilitate access to the most powerful social interaction tool I have: my eyes. Why should I relinquish all nonverbal “vocabulary,” just because it’s sunny out? For example:
Eyes widening: “Wow!”
Eyes narrowing: “I suspect what you are saying is not true.”
One brow raised: “Oh really?”
Two brows raised: “Yikes!”
Eye roll: “Jesus!” or “Of course, that would happen!”
Prolonged gazing: “I’m really attracted to you” or “I’m not listening to you at all, but if I look intently at you, you will think I am.”
Both eyes shut: “Oh no. Please don’t tell me that.”
Eyes tearing: “I feel your pain” or “I feel my pain” or “I feel the pain of the person you are talking about” or “Please don’t let me pick up the check.”
So listen up, all you cool people, shy people, people with designer sunglasses they are really proud of, and people who are worried that squinting will give them wrinkles: Unless you are in the Witness Protection Program or have just had eye surgery, Miss Mingle says: Take ‘em off, baby, and let it all hang out.