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What’s the difference between overalls and coveralls?

Just as you might expect, it’s one of those cases where the answer appears to be ‘it depends.’ (Oh, all right. The most common distinction hereabouts is that ‘coveralls’ are more or less boilersuits and ‘overalls’ are those pant thingies with the attached bib-and-suspenders, typically worn by clownish rustics in bad comedies or murderous psychopaths in horror films. I was thinking of this because…)

I wear glasses. Well, some of the time. I’ve mentioned this before. When I was young I didn’t wear them much, preferring to put them on only when they were needed. Well, the more things change — these days I also don’t wear them much but now the reason isn’t adolescent vanity or stubborn denial.

It’s presbyopia.

(I’m one of the lucky ones: I’ve so far not needed reading glasses. It’s been enough to take my regular distance glasses off, leave them somewhere stupid and then become helpless and unable to leave the house for three days when I can’t remember where I left them. Oh well, I don’t need them to play video games. Silver lining, I guess.)

I can’t really remember how old I was when I got my first pair — my best guess is around fourteen. (Hence the ‘adolescent vanity’ reference above — at the time the ugly glasses of the 1960s were gradually being replaced by the ugly glasses of the 1970s and I was somehow convinced that all of them made me look nerdy and pathetic. Which brings me to the ‘denial’ part… I’ve grown up a little since then. A little.)

I don’t remember what I was wearing That Day — based on the era, it was probably a pair of ill-fitting polyester knit pants, possibly in houndstooth, with an equally ill-fitting shirt in a clashing colour and pattern. (Think Robert Carradine in ‘Revenge of the Nerds’. It was an ugly time.)

Everything else I remember pretty well. I crept into the mall (malls are almost as soul-destroying as airports but in those days there was a small Ottawa-area chain of opticians and that’s where their local storefront was) much like a prisoner on death row heading toward an appointment he’d really rather skip. (Fortunately, the term ‘Drama Queen‘ wasn’t really a thing in those days so I didn’t really know I was being one.) Into the storefront I went.

“I’m here to end any possibility of having a social life.”

The nice optician nodded. “Have a seat. Name?” He disappeared into the back and came back with an envelope. (Huh. It seemed too small to crush all my hopes and dreams but heck, it was the seventies; everything was miniaturized.) He took my albatrosses out of the envelope, put them on my head, frowned, adjusted, bent, fiddled, frowned again and then asked

“How do they feel? Can you see okay?”

I thought so. I looked around the room – everything seemed clear, everything seemed fine, until I looked down and to the left.

There on the carpet was…

a chimpanzee.

In overalls. That fit. And matched his shirt. And didn’t scream ‘dweeb.’

It somehow figured that a hallucination would be better dressed than I was. (Story of my life, really.) But speaking of hallucinations, I’m pretty sure they weren’t listed as a possible consequence of eyewear. That seemed unfair.

“I can see okay but I think I’m seeing things that aren’t there.”

The nice optician looked confused. “Say what?”

“Well, I see a chimpanzee in overalls.” I prepared myself for the inevitable discussion on the difference between overalls and coveralls, which one was more fashionable and which one was more appropriate for an imaginary primate to wear but the discussion never happened. Instead, the nice optician looked down and said

“Oh, hi Oscar.”

Wait, what? He saw it too? And knew its name? Not only were hallucinations not one the advertised features of glasses, but shared hallucinations? Who ever heard of such a thing? Maybe it was really there? That seemed patently ridiculous — a chimpanzee in overalls visiting an optician? Glasses-induced shared hallucinations were more likely, I felt sure.

Eventually it was explained to me that no, I wasn’t hallucinating: Oscar lived with the owners of the pet store next door and most days he’d go to work with them. From time to time he’d go for a walk and flaunt the fact that he was better dressed and better looking than most of the teenagers in the mall.

Not to mention glasses-free so he didn’t look like a dork.

I still wear glasses but I’m still less well-dressed than most chimps you’re likely to imagine see.




The Author

Rose Glace is the pseudonym of nobody important.


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