London: bi-polar moments (2006)

It starts off by buying a pair of glasses. A pair of those thick rimmed glasses your favourite grandfather might have once wore. Turtle-shell. You see some on the face of somebody and feel that they’d look good on you. You visualize it, all day. Until you decide to do something drastic about it and find a pair. They fit you fairly well. It’s what you’ve been looking for, no? it’s what you want. Isn’t it? They compliment your cheekbones and match your trousers. They’re practical…you can simply dangle them from your shirt for they are solid enough, you can grip them like your grandfather did.
And so you’ve brought them. Envisioning yourself at curtain parties wearing them, you are proud. Proud to display, surely. They put you into a form, a character, a persona…or they match one of them.
They say: ‘I am Floyd. I do not take myself too seriously. I am relaxed. I am an individual.’ That is who I am. That is what they say. This is what I need.
And meanwhile…everyone else is wearing those rectangular glasses, the fools. Everyone.
And for a while you’re seeing, focusing, forcing yourself on all the positives.
Rather like a relationship.
But shortly you find flaws and seek doubts and uncertainty has been sown. Rather like a relationship.
You do not find them entirely practical. You find them slightly heavy and clumsy and you rapidly realise how many other thousands of the Great Mass are fashioning the same style. As if you all had the exact thought at the exact time. THE FOOLS.
Are you one?
And perhaps you can even identify the very moment when your will began to weaken…when that fiend in the pub turned to you and, in a jovial way, asked if you’d got them from Harry Hill. Is that who you look like?
Only to him. A mere common man whose thumb
is off the pulse. Remember: ‘yourself at certain
parties.’ He wasn’t a part of this.
But still – Harry Hill? He might
be right. Perhaps it was ridiculous.
And soon…not just for the [________] comment but the weight themselves…the real, literal weight of these bulky glasses your grandfather may have worn…and the aesthetic weight it presents your body with. Top heavy. It hides a great portion of your face. So, rather like a relationship, the disadvantages of one become the advantages of The Other…
How about slim, light glasses that one can barely see? Hardly an accessory…but more for what glasses are supposed to be. An aid. Let them show my face. Surely that is the rational objective?
And so you follow the same footsteps and undertake the exact procedure and, once more, you have a fresh pair of spectacles.
For a while you are content. You are yourself. This is you. And not some fictional image of yourself. This is not following what you saw in a magazine, or on a stranger down Brick Lane. This is the final you. The secondary reaction.
…But one day, feeling quite confident and sure, you try on the first
pair of glasses…and suddenly you see the brighter side of you. The side who suit the fuller glasses. The appeal is re-understood. How they compliment the clothes, the style. Styles, styles, styles. You know that you must be a whore.
But why?
And these first pair which helped you get the second pair now show you the disadvantages of that latter pair.
Call it revenge.
(Rather like –)
You become horrendously confused.
You stand in front of the mirror, wasting away an entire evening…putting on one pair, then The Other, then the first again, then the second, over and over and over and over.
Utterly tormented.
The larger glasses dominate the face, but then the smaller ones squint the features and turn them too serious and shrewd.
You change some clothes. In order to match, you suppose. This goes with that. But really you haven’t a clue. Your head is filled with confusion and doubt and split choices. Everyday – these split choices.
Perhaps you ought to see someone about it.
Perhaps a mild doctor.
But won’t he only condition you and call it ‘bi-polar’ – making it worse? Aren’t we all, in the West, bi-polar? …stuck at opposites?
The Western ‘bi-polar opposites’ condition.
But I’m sure it’s hardly restricted to only the West…that is a little naïve and romantic. And how about all those women with their endless supply of necklaces, handbags and matching shoes…what of those women? Those types and their types. Controlled by plastics and fabrics we have.
It is these options we have – tons and tons and tons. If only the first pair didn’t exist in the first place we wouldn’t be here, reflecting in the evening mirror. Wasting hours on style.
It began with glasses. And now…buggered. It was all so simple.

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