Monday, August 13, 2007

Four Pairs of Sunglasses

This is not a sad story. It could have been, but it is not.

But first, a memo to the gay baby boomer across the street, who is very nice and friendly, but whose "Free Palestine / End the Occupation!" t-shirt struck me dumb yesterday. I realize that your support of this cause is probably just a component of the "Liberal Activist Causes" package you picked up at REI. The Palestinians do appreciate your support, and would be happy to show their gratitude. Right after they stone you to death because you're gay.

Back to the nice story.

This is the tale of four pairs of sunglasses. It could be about many, many more pairs of sunglasses, enough to fill an entire book. A very tedious book. So I will limit to four pairs, just enough to cover the past month.

As I have related, I am not allowed to own expensive sunglasses. An exception was made for the perscription ones, which cost all the money left in our "Flexible Spending" account for 2006. I have now owned them for approximately 240 days. Their per-day cost is now below $2, making them actually cheaper to own than the three pairs I've bought in the past month.

It could have been more. When the first pair, which I bought after two cheap pairs imploded on successive days, stayed behind in Orange County instead of coming home with me, I figured, I'll see Roger A. Hunt soon. He can just bring them to me.

And he did. I went a couple of weeks wearing glasses all the time. Then the much-more-expensive-looking-than-the-$25-they-cost Fossil brand sunglasses returned to me. All was good.

A week later, however, they snapped in two, without warning. "You know," I said to a nonplussed Sandra Bullock, "maybe it's not entirely my fault. Yes, I've lost several pairs of sunglasses," including the pair that legendarily fell out of my pocket as I ran for a MUNI train, then reappeared in another guy's hands as the train doors closed, leaving me no option but to wave good-bye as the train pulled out of the station. Could have been worse. People have had to wave good-bye to far more significant things and people while pulling out of trains stations, "but maybe I'm just jinxed. I mean, come on."

She nodded, unconvinced.

One time I went downtown for an eye doctor appointment. I wore my contacts, but figured I should bring my glasses with me, just in case. It turned out that my glasses had no interest in going downtown. They wanted to go to Pittsburg/Bay Point, where the BART line ended. Good-bye, glasses.

SNAP! Went the attractive Fossil glasses.

Two days ago, the Jawa and I went downtown to see "The Simpsons Movie," which he loved. The lights went up. We were surrounded by geeks, which is something I have to say I've always suspected about "The Simpsons."

I've never heard my Yu-Gi-Oh-loving son laugh that hard at a movie. What that says about his demographic, I do not know, or will not admit.

On the way out, as the Jawa argued non-stop about doing anything that strayed from his personal agenda, we ducked into Marshall's, where I bought a butt-ugly pair of sunglasses made by Champion, who also make workout gear that is not nearly as cool as UnderArmour, Nike or Adidas stuff. I have lots of it.

So I figured the sunglasses would match. Also, they were $7.99, and I kind of got a kick out of the fact that the Jawa was pretending to show interest in the whole project, not realizing how very obvious it was that he just wanted to speed things up.

I lie. He actually did like the reflective blue lenses. Had I realized that they had reflective blue lenses, I would've put them back on the rack. But then I would have had a whole new bag of problems, namely I would have been up to my eyeballs in impatient, sardonic Jawa.

It didn't really matter, though, because that particular pair of sunglasses erupted above my left ear the next day. Their timing was magnificent. Having spent an hour chasing Shack around the beach at Crissy Field while the completely oblivious Jawa built sand castles, I was already reaching a point of unattractive frustration when I tossed by backpack (yes, that backpack; I have not been able to give it up yet)in the passenger seat. Of course, its entire contents came spilling out. In my disgust, I grabbed a bag of pretzels that I'd been hoping to eat but found difficult on the beach because this stupid dog got in my face and its owner did nothing but chuckle, "Oh, I guess he wants some of your food!"

The bag was upside down. Despite Glad's excellent zip-lock design, the bag was also open. The pretzels somehow filtered out of my hand and down to the very obnoxious space between the driver's seat and the console, where they joined about $5.80 in change that I have dropped down there.

"YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING!" I yelled, completely freaking out the Jawa, who assumed he was in trouble (again). As he braced himself for what he figured would be the inevitable pointed lecture, I jammed my hand into the space between the seat and the console. Sweating, I managed to get three or four of the pretzels. I ripped my glasses off to wipe off the sweat, leaving half of the left earpiece still attached to my ear.

This, I explained to the Jawa, who'd shown an interest in how business works, made these $7.99 sunglasses a much worse value than the $470 ones. You got it: their per-day cost was $7.99.

This morning, our first stop on the way to Raging Waters (we have season's passes) was Sports Authority, where I have bought several pairs of cheap sunglasses that have not blown up on my face. We settled on a nice $20 pair of "Boarders" and happily continued on our way to San Jose.

The second water slide we went on was unintimidating: just a small slide into a deep pool, followed by a faux-rapids float down a river. The Jawa went first. WHOOSH! Then I went, being careful to hold in my stomach but still unsatisfied with the results.

WHOOSH! Except I fell off my innertube, surfaced, and nervously tried to laugh it off. Then I realized my sunglasses were gone.

This was a new record. Two hours for $20. And I actually liked these sunglasses. What would Sandra Bullock say? Just the other day she'd warmed to the idea of me getting nice non-perscription sunglasses "after (you) get a job." Now she'd probably deny me any sunglasses, or limit my sunglass purchases to the sad circular racks at Walgreens.

I thrashed around for awhile, then stood in the water, reaching down blindly with my hands. Up the hill, the line had stopped. They were waiting for me. Embarassed, I moved on. "You can come back when the park closes," said the bored lifeguard, who'd witnessed the whole thing.

The sun is cruel. We wear sunblock to limit our exposure. When you've been wearing sunglasses for seemingly ever, suddenly spending 5 hours sunglassless is downright brutal. And every half-hour or so, I would think, "Oh, I'll find them. They're not gone." I checked back where I'd lost them. No dice. They were churning around at the bottom of that first hill, I knew it.

Funny thing is that when you're walking around shirtless and self-conscious, one of only a few middle-aged dads at the water park on an August Monday, a good pair of wraparound sunglasses can be almost as good as a shirt. Stripped of not only my shirt but also my shades, I was a pathetic figure, lacking even a cursory nod towards cool. All I had going for me was my proximity to and connection with this gorgeous child, so I made sure to never be more than 5 feet from him, which was good, because otherwise he'd talk the ear off of whomever was 5 feet from him.

Some guys can pull off fat and shirtless. There is a certain kind of guy whose heft can even look menacing. Give him the right facial hair -- AND THE RIGHT SUNGLASSES -- and you've got a guy you don't want to mess with.

That's not me. I'm more of a "boy, that guy looks uncomfortable, like his skin is too tight," kind of fat guy.

Today, as I stood in line for "White Lightning" behind a trio of negative body fat teenage guys, I vowed, for only the 5,807th time in my life, to get in shape, once and for all.

At five-thirty, I had a quandary. Though I'd enjoyed the water park immensely, I was tired of being wet. I sat on the edge of a pool (self-consciously) while the Jawa hurtled off of this short concrete slide again and again. The park was to be open for another half-hour, but I was ready to go. But if I waited for the park to close, I knew they'd find my sunglasses. I decided to take one more trip to the lost and found, and search their box of sunglasses.

And there they were.

I think. The Jawa later inserted a variable by asking, "How are you sure they're yours? You only had them for an hour. Do you remember what they looked like?"

Do you realize that you could just go up to any lost and found, look at their sunglasses and choose a pair you like? I do, now.

This pair of sunglasses is back, so it is a happy ending. Maybe this pair will be a pair for the ages. Maybe I will wear them to the Jawa's high school graduation. They will go nicely with the size 32 pants I promise you I will also be wearing.


Blogger Dave K said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:41 AM  
Blogger Dave K said...

Have you ever thought about buying sunglasses in bulk? I am sure you could get them cheaper by the dozen. From this place for example.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

never take food to the dog park.

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Blogger Lefty said...

how can you buy sunglasses without trying them on to see how cool they make you look?

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Anonymous the hammer said...

I know you'll say that it looks geeky, but have you considered using Croakies to hold on to the sunglasses? While I certainly have my issues of vanity and fashion, for the most part I prefer value. When it comes to sunglasses and various other accessories, I don't even know what cool is (witness my glasses, sun and regular).

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Blogger Syl said...

Unfortunately, you can't buy cool. It's kind of like Zen in that way.

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