The last time I owned a pair of expensive sunglasses, I’m pretty sure there were two Germanies.
I was in high school, and I saved up around $100 to buy a pair of really nice sunglasses. They were Bollé brand, and anyone who just Googled that brand for his column can tell you that “Bollé is a world leader in the manufacture and sale of technical glasses, goggles and helmets for everyday life and specialised sports.”
These were nice cat-eye models, with a sleek black frame that gently hugged your head and rested ever so gently on your face, all the while pleasantly toning down the light, creating a day in the sun like no other. Wearing these sunglasses was the eyewear equivalent of getting a great big bear hug. I loved these glasses and was as proud of these glasses as most people are of their children.
And I subsequently lost them about a week later. I have no clue where they went. I could have left them somewhere. Someone could have taken them. For all I know they could have been sucked into a sunglasses netherworld vortex.
All I know is they were gone. Like that. And for a high school student whose income was solely based on wages as a part-time drug store clerk, this was a major blow. This was like getting your car stolen, except my 1981 Mazda at the time was probably not worth that much.
But the point is, from that point forward, I went completely to the opposite end of the sunglass spectrum. Cheaper the better. I had three basic criteria: (1) Cost under $20 (2) the plastic did not cut into my flesh and (3) the lenses did not touch my eyelashes, which is possibly one of the greater subtle tortures of the modern world. And when the glasses broke or disappeared, I just replaced them with new cheap sunglasses. If I wore them for a few days and realized, “Hey, waddya know? These DO cut into my temples when I wear them” I could just get new ones. No emotional attachment, no worries about what happened. Just new expendable glasses when I needed them.
Some 25 years after my beloved Bollé glasses left my services, I have had a week in which dependence on cheap sunglasses have pushed me to the brink.
It started last week when I made the huge mistake of having the audacity of trying to put on my sunglasses. As I raised them to my face with my right hand, I felt the glasses start to fall. When they came to rest in my lap, I realized I had half of the right temple stem in my hand. With my apparent brute strength, I had snapped the plastic in half, creating a pair of glasses that I could still wear, assuming I didn’t mind them (a) being crooked and (b) kinda cutting into my head on the right side where the plastic broke, which if you all remember, was a bit in violation of my basic rules for sunglasses.
So I had to get a new pair of sunglasses, as I have done so many times before. This time, however, the need was a little more pressing, as I was heading to a Bama football game, where sunlight is usually in abundance. I was going to be spending a lot of time outside, and I am one of those people who, without sunglasses, squints and grimaces in sunlight, kinda looking like Tim Robbins when he comes out of solitary confinement in “Shawshank Redemption.”
I bought a pair at a gas station on our way into town. They fit all three criteria. Mission accomplished. As I was walking into the stadium, I went to adjust my glasses. Cue the brute strength again. The glasses were suddenly in three pieces, which, as even the most basic sunglass technician can tell you, is not how they are supposed to be.
I tried to piece them back together best I could, just for the duration of the game. After about 43 times of picking up the sunglass puzzle and trying to make them stick back together, I gave up. Cue the squinting.
Eventually, my wife had enough of my (a) squinting and (b) complaining about squinting, so I found a place outside of the stadium to buy some lovely $10 glasses that would, at the very least, stop my complaining.
I’m hoping these glasses will be the be-all, end-all answer to my problems. But I know the reality – they’re cheap glasses, and they will probably break any day now, just like all the others. I’ve done the math, and I have probably spent more on cheap sunglasses over the last past two decades than a truckload of Bollés. But I continue to stick to by guns on my sunglasses criteria. Maybe one day I’ll get another decent pair of sunglasses. That is, of course, assuming I find those Bollés.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.